Thursday, May 23, 2024

Battling a Pandemic of Grief

Some time ago, when my last parent was called home to heaven, I found myself grieving not only the loss of my mom but also the loss of what “normal” had become.
You see, when a Sister goes on “vacation,” it usually means visiting family. “Home” in the “nun world” usually means the place of refreshment where you can catch up on some much needed rest. Because of my mom’s death, homelessness bit into my grief horribly. I felt lost, unattached to anyone. Loneliness wreaked havoc on my heart.
I tell you this not only because we are in the midst of a pandemic, but also because of one of its side effects: grief. With terms like social distancing, hot zones, lockdowns, quarantines and isolations, we have all been bitten by this horrid heartache. You might be thinking, “But grief?”
Ponder this: Think of something you care about, an individual you love, or an activity that defines who you are. Has anything associated with that changed since this journey began? Do you find yourself thinking, “How long is this going to continue? Is there an end in sight? What if ….?”  If any of these questions have crossed your mind, then you are grieving. Maybe you find yourself crying without knowing the reason, or you’re angry all time.
Very recently, I received an article that describes it this way: As human beings, whenever our attachments are threatened, harmed, or severed, we naturally grieve. Grief is everything we think and feel inside of us when this happens.1
We are being barraged with procedures and processes on how to stay healthy physically. But we are not just a body or a bundle of feelings. We have a soul as well. Our soul often cries out at moments like this. What should you do? For the health of our bodies, we can wash our hands. But for our souls?
Reach out by phone, e-mail, Skype, FaceTime, etc., to the ones you love. Express how you feel to this friend or family member, no matter what it may be.
As I was writing this article, I received a phone call from our florist. Since they are closed with no re-opening date, our convent’s order for flowers for Easter was cancelled. When I shared that with another Sister, she said, “We have more than enough silk flowers! Nothing will match but it will be beautiful! A true Garden for Christ!”  She was so right!
Make a point to take some quiet time to talk to Jesus and/or Mary about what is on your heart. You might want to view Mass online. You might want to say a Rosary. There are plenty of streams on parish websites and Facebook pages, as well as videos on YouTube.
Not long ago, a gentleman called my office at the Diocesan Center and challenged me to write about the Liturgy of the Hours. I said to him, “Ok, when the time is right!” Well, now is the time!
At a very high level, the Liturgy of the Hours are a series of Psalm readings, readings from Scripture and prayers that are either recited or chanted. Each “hour” calls the faithful to stop and look toward heaven. There are many free apps for the Liturgy of the Hours that you can download if you have a smart phone. I personally like The Divine Office app. Besides giving you the text, you can download the audio file as well. In addition, it indicates how many people are using the app throughout the world, with a globe full of tiny white dots. Each dot is my Brother or Sister in Christ. We present a global community praying to a Creator, who truly does hear our prayers!
Please take care of your physical needs. Be prudent with your contacts! But above all, our world is undergoing a moment of retreat. Make this time holy and spend it not only with the ones you love (albeit at least six feet apart) but also with the One who loves YOU!
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness

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