By Father Stephan Bauer, OSC
Bereavement Counselor, Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes

This time of year, we retell one of the most important stories about our Catholic faith: the story of the birth of Jesus. As we read each year in the scripture, Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem to register for the census. Upon their arrival, Mary went into labor. In the throes of childbirth with nowhere to go, she and Joseph found themselves in a cold stable with the animals during one of the most vulnerable times of their lives.

If you or a loved one need support this holiday season, Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes offers grief counseling. Call (602) 267-3960 to make an appointment.

The first Christmas didn’t go exactly as planned. After all, Mary would have wanted the comfort of family and friends during this time, as well as a warm, clean place to welcome Jesus. But God was by her side through it all, and the discomfort of the situation was tempered by the joy of Christ’s birth.

Like Mary, those grieving the loss of a loved one during the holidays may find the blessings of the season to be overshadowed by pain and distress. After all, many of us have high expectations during the holidays as we remember celebrations of the past. We don’t know how we are supposed to celebrate when we are weighed down with sorrow, but we don’t want to disappoint eager loved ones who want to include us in the festivities.

As a grief counselor at Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes, I meet many Catholics who are facing this challenge. I remind them that there isn’t just one way to grieve. They need to do it at their own pace and in their own time. And while many shy away from talking about their deceased love one to spare those around them discomfort, I encourage it. That’s because sharing the story of a loved one’s life with others is a beautiful way to grieve. As the story of the first Christmas teaches us, joy and pain can—and do—exist side by side. By allowing ourselves to feel both emotions at once, we open ourselves to the fullness of the human experience and to God’s unending grace.

I wish you and your loved ones many blessings this holiday season as you share your stories of love—and loss—with one other.

Merry Christmas!

If you would like to learn more, please contact your parish or Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes directly at (602) 267-3962.