Q. For six years, I was the sole caregiver of my mom and my aunt. They died eight weeks apart. I miss them so much; they were my best friends, and we did everything together. I still grieve their deaths, especially during the holidays. I cry often, but I offer all my loneliness, sadness, and Masses for the holy souls in purgatory. When will my pain and loneliness ease? I am very active in my local parish.
A. You obviously loved them very much. I wish that I could give you a date when your pain and loneliness will ease. Grief, however, does not respect calendars. Do you remember how your mother and aunt dealt with the deaths of their parents or other relatives? Did their grief cripple them emotionally? Did it gradually become less evident?
If either your mom or your aunt could speak to you now about your grief, what do you think they would say? Would they encourage your present way of dealing with this loss? Might they suggest another way? There is a great deal of pain and suffering in the world. Grieving people sometimes practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy with a new dedication. This will not bring back your mom and aunt, but this option may honor them more than your current expressions of grief do.
When they were in good health, was there some type of community service in which they were especially involved? Could you continue their work or address a more recent or more urgent community need?
Does your parish have a bereavement committee? If so, perhaps you could offer short-term support and longer-term help to others who have lost loved ones. The current Holy Year of Mercy may be the perfect time to help bury the dead and console the sorrowing.
Mary and Jesus grieved the death of St. Joseph, but in life-giving ways. May they guide you in your grief and in your service to others.