After the death of my son, my first questions were “Where is he now?” “Is he OK?” After talking with my priest and spiritual director, I realized that Eric was perfect now – his best self. I began to ponder the ideas of an afterlife, eternal life, and Heaven.
I was curious about death and what it must be like to be in an entirely different realm than the one we have here on earth. It’s not that I planned or even really wanted to leave this life, but I was so weary of the pain and sorrow of my grief. . . and heaven sounded pretty appealing.
I was desperate to find healing, I learned that I needed to find my spiritual footing – my spirit needed healing. I found the Emmaus Ministry for Grieving Parents, so I attended a 3-day retreat in the dreary cold winter November in Boston. This retreat changed my life because I found hope that our loved ones are alive and well, and that we will be reunited with them when it is our time to cross over.
In his article, “The Spiritual Path to Healing: An Introduction”, Dr. Alan Wolfelt says this . . .
Among these needs is to nurture yourself in five important areas: physically, emotionally, cognitively, socially, and spiritually.
When someone we love dies, it is like a deep hole implodes inside of us. It’s as if the hole penetrates us and leaves us gasping for air. I have always said we mourn life losses from the inside out. In my experience, it is only when we are spiritually nurtured (inside and outside) that we discover the courage to mourn openly and honestly.
To integrate spiritual practices into your life demands a reminder that:
- Spirituality invites you to slow down and turn inward.
- Spirituality invites you to feel deeply and to believe passionately.
- Spirituality invites you to get to know your authentic self.
- Spirituality invites you to celebrate diversity.
- Spirituality invites you to be open to the mystery.
For many bereaved parents, Spirituality is their first touchstone on the path to healing. Even if your initial response to your loss was anger at God or doubt (how could a loving God have allowed this horrific thing?), we often find that reigniting that kernel of spirituality (‘My child still is, and is OK!’) opens the possibility of healing and, ultimately, the path to new meaning and purpose in our lives.
If you are interested in (re)finding your spiritual footing, consider attending the upcoming 3-day retreat for grieving parents on December 10th until the 12th. The EMMAUS Ministry for Grieving Parents is a unique ministry that serves the spiritual needs of grieving parents whose children of any age have died by any cause, no matter how long ago. We focus on the promise of eternal life and the rich teachings of our faith to help parents face the most devastating experience of their lives – the loss of their child.
We ask questions such as:
Where is God in my pain?
Where is my child right now?
Why do I feel abandoned by God?
How could God let this happen?
The retreat is offered by grieving parents who have lost children of their own. We provide an opportunity for parents to gather in a sacred, warm, and compassionate space with others who know their pain. Many parents find their first threads of peace and comfort after their loss. We don’t judge or psychoanalyze, we listen, share our stories, and explore our spirituality in the wake of life-changing loss. For more information click here, https://www.ericshouse.org/event/emmaus-retreat-for-grieving-parents-2/
This retreat is based on the rich traditions of the Catholic faith, but is designed for people of all faiths. For additional information contact Eric’s Mom, Marianne Gouveia, at 602.549.8932 or Greg Eckerman, Eric’s stepfather, at 480-734-3423.