On behalf of Gesu Parish, I extend our prayers and heartfelt sympathy to you, Susann, Patricia and Nancy at the death of your mother, Anna Mae. Your children grieve, too. I noted that you requested gifts be made to the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Hospice of the Western Reserve. Your mom required that kind of care, and your dad did in a more prolonged way. I know what that’s like because my sister informed me while I was living in Asia that Alzheimer’s began to manifest itself in our mom. When I returned in eight months I was able to help my sister, who had been doing the lion’s share of being with our mom and getting her good care.
Although my mom is still alive and profits from full care—not yet hospice-care—I grieve often as she lives her long good bye, as Alzheimer’s is aptly called. I pray that you be more courageous than your grief is sharp. Your confidence in our risen Messiah will help you grieve well and come to experience your mom’s presence in real and new ways.
Today the Catholic church bids farewell to one of hers. I offer a few words to console and strengthen you in your grief; to help you appreciate God’s astounding compassion by noticing Jesus’ victorious dying and rising were present in Anna Mae./1/
I did not have the privilege to meet Anna Mae or Arthur because she had moved and Arthur had died before I came to Gesu Parish over three years ago. I would like to reflect with you on the challenge to let go of our loved ones.
All of us can name challenging times in our lives when people accompanied us through a challenge. All of us can recall how important their presence was, although they could not change our circumstances. Parents and grandparents accompany us in most significant ways. We accompany Anna Mea to church for the last time.
The Book of Wisdom reminded us that Anna Mae’s hope [was] full of immortality. I hope your prayers for your mother and grandmother will also deepen your hope to continue to share God’s life now and completely one day. That’s what immortality is, God’s life.
Christian love is not an emotion, it’s an action with many aspects as St. Paul reminded us. Perhaps now is the time to remember that Christian love bears all things; believes all things; hopes all things; endures all things.
“Now” because grieving is heavy yet we can move through it as you already have with your dad and your maternal aunt. Moving through grief not only challenges our belief and hope, it shapes them.
Without knowing your mom or your dad, your grandmother or your grandfather, I’ve learned their prayerful desire and their prayerful desire for each of you was to live authentic Christian lives. Active Christian loving allows God and others into our lives. Allowing others is active; it doesn’t seem so because we are not in control.
Until we enjoy God’s life in an unveiled way and see our God as [God is],/4/ graced companionship in its many forms, especially as human accompaniment, is that still more excellent way, which is our surest guide to live authentically the Christian life your parents and your grandparents, in their own ways, have bequeathed to you. Their legacy puts you in contact with the Source of all life, whose Holy Spirit renews your life and is your power to accompany others as your parents and grandparents accompanied you with their lives.
1. Cf. Order of Christian Funerals, 27.
2. Preface for Christian Death I, Roman Missal.
3. Penitential Rite (C,ii), Roman Missal.
4. Eucharistic Prayer III, Roman Missal.