How to Process Grief as a Catholic
When a loved one dies, it is natural to grieve. Grief is universal, even among people of faith. Catholics, however, as all Christians, can look to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, and not grieve “as those who have no hope.” The Catholic faith can help people work through grief, although some of the following principles apply to all people.
If you’ve lost a loved one:
- Look for God’s presence in your life, despite your grief. Even in times of grief, we are not abandoned by God, because as it says in Hebrews 13:5, “God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” He is there in our grief offering comfort and support and giving us the strength to face the days ahead.
- Use your suffering to help you pray for others, especially souls in purgatory. Prayer is powerful, and when you pray for others, it’s beneficial for you too. It says in Job 42:10, “After Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes.” Part of the power of praying for another is that it helps you look outside of your own pain. Praying for souls in purgatory is an ancient practice, and it’s a spiritual work of mercy.
- In addition to praying for others, reach out to help others. When we use our pain to help others who are suffering, we alleviate our own suffering. We can reach out to others in many ways, whether it’s volunteering, helping a neighbor, or working with rescued animals. By finding ways to help others thrive, you help yourself to heal. And as Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
- Whatever you do, do not allow your grief to isolate you. Rather, use your experience to help you develop compassion and empathy. Allow others to help you, and find someone to talk to, whether it’s a friend, family member, counselor or members of a support group. We are strongest when we work together, for as it says in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two are better than one… if either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”
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