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If you dare to love,
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placeholder May 18, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 10   •   Oakland, CA
If you dare to love, be prepared to grieve

Rev. Padraig Greene

In his famous book "The Prophet," Kahlil Gibran writes: "Some of you say that love and joy are greater than sorrow, and others say, 'Nay, sorrow is greater.' But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with your table, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed."

The shell must break before the chicken walks free; the seeds must die before we celebrate harvest. The composer Elgar once said of a student, "She is an excellent singer. But she will not be great until she suffers more." There is no other way. As Easter people, we believe our suffering becomes our friend; our pain opens our hearts to compassion.

We only grieve over those we love. The depth of the pain of grief is determined by the security and safety of the attachment to the person who has died.

Each loss is as unique as the individual relationship we had with the person who has died. First of all, the relationships themselves are different. The loss of a spouse is different from the loss of a friend, child, parent or sibling. It's not necessarily easier or harder to resolve, just different depending on the quality of the attachment with the person who has died.

One of the great writers in the whole area of grief studies is Rabbi Earl Grollman. He once said that when we lose a parent, we lose our past. When we lose a spouse, we lose our present. And when we lose a child, we lose a future. Each loss is different.

But each loss needs to be grieved. Unless I grieve I will never take the person back into my heart as he/she is. Unresolved losses take a toll on our hearts. We shut down from life, from one another, from ourselves. The grief remains buried deep within us.

Such buried grief affects our relationships and compromises our ability to be fully alive. Unresolved grief can show up in such symptoms as chronic physical ailments, fearfulness, depression, overworking, addiction, social isolation and compulsive behavior.

I was appointed parish relationship director with Catholic Funeral & Cemetery Services last March. Over the past year, we have been developing grief ministries at many of CFCS's Funeral Centers as well as facilitating the growth of parish grief ministries. These are safe places for hurting people to come and grieve with like-minded people.

Pope Francis has said many times that parishes are for healing wounds and warming hearts. The ministers are people who have gone through the process of grief and are now training with on-going supervision to become wounded healers for others.

Check the CFCS website — www.cfcsoakland.org and click on "events" for the nearest Grief Ministry program to you.

Joy and sorrow are inseparable in life's journey.

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