When you’ve lost a loved one, memories can cause joy and pain in equal measure. During the holiday season, this can be especially true as we think back upon happy celebrations together while feeling the void the absence of someone dear leaves at this special time of year.
I understand this grief first-hand. Several years ago, my wife and I lost our 13-year-old son unexpectedly two days after Christmas. What was supposed to be a season of cheer and togetherness became a time of pain and sorrow for our family.
“Keeping the memory of your loved ones alive in your heart can provide true solace.”
In fact, it’s this profound loss that led me to Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes. In the months and years following the death of my son, I found myself trying to figure out what to do with my life. I had worked in public service in Arizona for 26 years, first as a paramedic and then as a police officer. Now, though, my path eluded me. My wife and I moved to Georgia to be near her family, and I continued to pray about my future.
In her wisdom, my wife suggested I attend mortuary school so I could help families like ours find their way through loss and grief. I have taken that difficult journey myself, and now I am blessed to be the one who holds the hands of others at Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery and Funeral Home as they make their way through their own journey of healing.
With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming soon, it’s natural for those of us who are coming to terms with a loss to feel a wave of grief return. It can be tempting to busy yourself in an effort to avoid these painful feelings, but that would be false comfort. Instead, keeping the memory of your loved ones alive in your heart can provide true solace.
At Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes, we hold an Annual Memorial Mass in December at several of our locations so we can honor the loved ones we have lost and join together as a community of faith in prayer. In doing so, we share our grief with others to lighten the load, and we take comfort in knowing we are not alone in our pain.
We also are reminded of the hope of eternal life Jesus gave us. When we experience a tragedy, it’s like an airplane breaking through the clouds on a rainy day. No matter how dark things look, the sun is always there, waiting above the clouds, as God is always there for us.
Many blessings to you and your loved ones this holiday season.
Chad Viliborghi is Manager of Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery & Funeral Home in Mesa.