My Son's Funeral
10 months & 19 days since you passed into eternal life on October 15, 2015.
I have learned that it is God's desire to gather together all of the suffering from grieving hearts and use it as a force for good. Here is a way that God has taught me to allow Him to use these "Grief Attacks" for a higher purpose and to make our loved one who has passed away happy that something good can come from our suffering.
From a previous post:
To me a wave of grief can wash over me like a tidal wave and it can literally feel like I am drowning in the Dead Sea if I don't know what to do with it. When I offer each wave of grief, as it comes, to the Lord as a sacrifice, He pulls me out of the Dead Sea and changes the wave of grief into Living Water because he takes each wave I give him, unites it with his sacrifice and uses it as a channel of grace for others. In that moment, He uses the offering of my shattered heart to increase the flow of His grace in the world. He allows us to see some of what he uses it for here and now but most of what he does with our offering will be seen in heaven.
It can be helpful to make a prayer list and as each wave comes, take out your list and pray "I offer this suffering for...."
This is what we are doing at Mass - If you think about the words of the "Morning Offering" that we prayed as children. We are at Mass to offer ourselves with Jesus to the Father for the salvation of the world and because we are members of His Body on earth (Cf. 1 Cor 12:12-31; Col 1:18; 2:18-20; Eph. 1:22-23; 3:19; 4:13) and he lives in us
(Galatians 2:20), our offering has merit - eternal value. What a high calling we have! If all bereaved people knew this, what a difference it could make in finding meaning and a mission in their suffering!
Practically speaking, how do we do this? This is how the Lord has taught me to offer the sufferings of my heart:
I read a post about “Grief Attacks” yesterday: “When grieving we can be going along and everything seems to be okay. Then, out of nowhere, grief hits full force. These are not setbacks, they are part of the grieving experience.”
I experience these grief attacks many times each day. Today, I was catching up on the Office of Readings that I had missed this week and I was reading from August 29: The Beheading of John the Baptist, Martyr. As soon as I read the follow words: “Though in the sight of men he suffered torments, his hope is full of immortality” (Wisdom 3:4) – I was immediately brought back to my son’s funeral. That scripture passage was part of the first reading at his funeral Mass. So many mixed emotions: At the same time that I am SO grateful to be Catholic and to have had the comfort of a Catholic Funeral Mass for my son, it still takes my breath away to think about and type those words “funeral Mass.”
It is still so surreal to me that he is physically gone and his precious body is lying in a casket four feet under the ground. Even after almost 11 months the reality of this is still so hard to process. I go back in my memory to his funeral Mass and I am overcome by a mixture of emotions. I was partially numb that day, I am sure because I was still in shock, and so I felt like I was more of an observer than the mother of the deceased.
I prayed one hundred times that day and every day since with every wave of grief that I could feel:
DEAR LORD, I OFFER THIS SUFFERING TO YOU - THIS SACRIFICE OF MY BROKEN HEART, MY MORTAL ANGUISH, MY DARKNESS, MY CONFUSION, ALL MY QUESTIONS - AND I UNITE IT WITH YOUR PERFECT SACRIFICE MADE PRESENT ON EVERY ALTAR AT EVERY CATHOLIC MASS. I OFFER IT FOR THE RELIEF OF THE HOLY SOULS IN PURGATORY; THE SALVATION OF THE DYING AND THE CONVERSION OF SINNERS EVERYWHERE.
The funeral was at 11:00 AM and we, along with my family and my husband’s family had the privilege of going to the funeral home at 9:00 AM to spend the last couple of hours paying our last respects to my son’s precious body before the casket was shut and sealed FOREVER! It was sheer anguish to look at him, to touch his skin, rub his head and kiss him for the LAST TIME IN THIS LIFE! He was so cute, so handsome and so full of life and love; to look at his lifeless body was more than I could process. We sobbed and sobbed as a family for this unbelievable loss!
DEAR LORD, I OFFER THIS SUFFERING TO YOU...
As the funeral home director shut the casket I felt like I left my body. From that point on I followed instructions but, for the most part, it was as if I was not really there but merely observing it from outside my body. We followed the hearse across the street, to the Church for the funeral Mass. As we were pulling in I could see that there were so many people arriving for his funeral; so many young adults there to pay their last respects to my son and so many people there to support our family. The church was full to overflowing. That was an unbelievable consolation for us, We are so grateful for the love and support that was shown to us during the darkest period of our lives. These people were truly messengers of God's loving care for us. They were like angels!
THANK YOU, GOD, FOR THESE PEOPLE THAT WERE TRULY YOUR HANDS, FEET, HEART AND VOICE! THANK YOU FOR THESE PEOPLE THAT WERE MESSENGERS OF YOUR LOVING CARE FOR US!
We parked our car right behind the hearse in front of the Church and waited for the funeral procession to form. As we were sitting in our car, people were walking in and some of them noticed that we were there and stopped by to offer their condolences. I will never forget the tears they shed for us. One young man in particular really touched my heart. He was sobbing and his mom told me that he was having a very hard time with this. I felt so out of my body throughout this whole experience - the visitation the night before, the funeral Mass and the reception - that I was able to see other people's pain more than my own in those moments and was able to console them.
I was so touched by the 24 young men that were chosen from among his friends and family to be his Pall Bearers. They were dressed so nicely and were so respectful. They felt so honored to be able to show their love for my son this way. They were lined up in two lines like soldiers as his body was taken out of the hearse and rolled down the middle of them as the funeral procession began.
SHEER ANGUISH - DEAR LORD, I OFFER YOU MY SUFFERING...
That is a memory I will cherish. I wish I would have thought to have pictures taken but, unfortunately, I did not.
As we waited in the Narthex, the funeral directors handed us the Pall and asked the four of us - my husband, me and my two daughters - to place the Pall on his casket. We did this but it did not feel real to me. Once again I felt as if I was observing someone else doing this. From this point on I did not notice my son’s casket for the rest of the Mass. I was in total shock I guess. I did notice the love behind me from the congregation. I could hear the sobs (people were crying the tears I could not cry in that moment) and I felt the love and prayers washing over us. It was something I will never forget!
Thinking back now of his precious body in the casket at the front of the Church by the baptismal candle takes my breath away!
THANK YOU, LORD, THAT HE WAS BAPTIZED AND WAS RESTORED TO YOUR GRACE BEFORE HIS DEATH!
Even though I could not be there emotionally the day of his funeral, I return there in my memory to look at it frequently and EACH TIME, as the wave of grief washes over me, I try to pray:
DEAR LORD, I OFFER THIS UNBELIEVABLE SUFFERING TO YOU...
God's Grace kicks in at that moment and the edge is taken off of the anguish and my burden is literally made lighter (Matt. 11:30). You can’t always consciously detect the grace lifting you up; you can see more clearly from hindsight that it was present and strengthening you. Somehow you are making it through a situation that you never in a million years thought you could have. It helps so much to know that God is taking this offering and using it for an eternal purpose.
Not only that, It eases my pain to know that my son is so grateful that this suffering that we, his precious family, are enduring and offering to God because of his death is bringing forth abundant fruit for others and not the destruction of our lives. He sees the fruit of this way more clearly than I do right now and I feel his continual encouragement and gratitude in my spirit.