"For I Shall See You Again": Comforting Those Who Mourn
John 16:22 - So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.
The loss of a spouse through death is one of life's most stressful events. According to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, a scale used by medical professionals to measure a patient's stress level in order to predict its effect on physical health, the death of a spouse ranks highest in terms of its life-changing effect. It opens the door to bereavement, a state of intense deprivation. "When your spouse dies, your world changes. You are in mourning — feeling grief and sorrow at the loss. You may feel numb, shocked, and fearful... In addition to dealing with feelings of loss, you also may need to put your own life back together. This can be hard work."1
Under the guidance of Pastoral Minister Sr. Maxine Shonk and parishioners Valerie Bryan and Mary Pisaniello, St. Pius X has recently developed a new support and healing ministry for widows and widowers. Called For I Shall See You Again (John 16:22), the ministry offers a regular opportunity for widows and widowers to gather in a safe and loving environment in order to share their grief journey through discussion and prayer.
Valerie explained that For I Shall See You Again is growing, but is still in the early development phase. "We currently have 23 participants and are slowly discerning the needs and wants of each member. Our discussions from our first few meetings have addressed grief, dealing with loneliness, and how others are dealing with us through our grief. We have learned that having a safe place to share with others who have experienced a similar loss is very beneficial, and our members are starting to rely more on each other and form a community."
Anyone who has lost a spouse may attend a monthly meeting. For I Shall See You Again announces its meetings through our parish bulletin. It meets on the third Tuesday of every month from 6:30-8:00 PM in the Bride's Room of the church. Meetings typically consist of opening prayer, introductions, discussion and closing prayer. No prior registration or RSVP is required to attend; simply show up.
The first few meetings have yielded rich fruit for participants and facilitators. "As I have met with the widowed community I have been both inspired and humbled by their journey. The experience of losing one's life partner is like no other," shared Sr. Maxine. "One can imagine the loneliness and the lost-ness but unless you have had the experience, you cannot fully identify with it. It is after the funeral and the goodbyes and condolences and flowers that the real hurting begins, and it takes many forms ... from anger to sadness to loneliness to inadequacy, etc. That's why this gathering of the parish's widows and widowers sharing their journeys among themselves is so essential. It is in hearing one another's story that healing begins. It's having your pain heard and understood without the need to fix it or to make it feel better because there is no fix for such a loss. There is only the love, support, and wisdom of those who have been there. They keep each other faithful to the journey of going forward, of living a New Life with their life partner. These men and women of faith have taught me a great deal. If you have lost a partner, please, come and join us."
A parish webpage for this ministry is in development. For more information, please contact Sister Maxine Shonk (614-861-1575), Mary Pisaniello (614-367-9467), or Valerie Bryan (614-738-5386).
1 - Mourning the Death of a Spouse. (2017, June 22). Retrieved August 25, 2017, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/mourning-death-spouse.
2 - Shonk, M., O.P. (2012). Silver Linings: Blessings for Shadow Times. Columbus, Ohio: The Spirituality Network.