In an article published by Angelus News, TCA’s Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie writes of mourning a loss in her article titled “The calamity of death and the necessity of mourning”. She writes:

The Book of Ecclesiastes tells us that to everything in life there is a season, and an appointed time for every human experience. Our ancestors understood this — they lived the rhythms of life and respected them, their livelihoods tied to the harvests or the tides. They lived patiently attuned to the muffled cadences of their hearts, both the glad tempos and the dirges.

Today it is harder for us to accept the true fullness of human experience, the wide breadth of the seasons of life. We live in rigidly controlled environments, our thermostats set to 73 degrees in summer and winter, our pantries full of the same food the year round. We think we can do the same to our hearts, living narrowly only the experiences we crave, like love’s embrace or at the very least the steady hum of a cheerful, active life. The gloomy seasons we reject as unhealthy or morbid, and we seek the therapist’s couch when a swamping tide of loss or grief doesn’t recede at once.

The experience we fear the most is that of death, with its awful finality and hideous separation. And yet death is embedded in life, here to stay. With all our scientific progress we have not been able to extend our lifespan at all, let alone begin to see a way to achieve the pipedreams of billionaires who have poured their capital into “solving” death.

What we have been able to do is to mute death — compartmentalize it, box it in, marginalize it, remove it from our sight — as we’ve done with many of our cemeteries and funeral homes. Our old people die in hospices, with trained assistants to sedate them on their way, and are rushed to the crematorium when their souls have barely fled. Ashes are scattered in bodies of water, while wakes and funeral rites have been replaced by “celebrations of life.” We are encouraged to celebrate immediately, because grief hurts and what hurts has no business interrupting the cheerful tempo of our modern lives.

My dear father died a month ago. He was 86 and had been diagnosed with the terrible, terminal illness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) more than two years ago. And yet, I was completely unprepared for his going away from us.

His death had all the hallmarks of a good death: he died in a state of grace, his soul and mind well prepared, nobly accepting the slow crucifixion that God chose for him as his purifying end. He died at home, with my mother, his wife of 56 years, yearning tenderly over him until his last wracked breath. Children and grandchildren surrounded him on his deathbed, suffering but unwilling to miss a last glance from his eyes. It was “normal,” it was “natural,” it was “to be expected,” and it was “a welcome relief.”

Clearly there is nothing for me to complain about. But I am still grieving, and it’s made me reflect on the wisdom of Ecclesiastes: There is, in fact, “a time to mourn,” and I’ve learned there is a blessedness in that time that we do wrong to reject.

It has been more than a month since I watched my father draw his last breath. That day I fed him his last meal, spoon by spoon, and I thank God for that gift. He signed to my mother to comb his bit of hair. To the end he was an elegant, old-world Cuban of a type which is almost extinct. He smiled on all of us — reassuringly, bravely, lovingly — and then he left us.

I don’t doubt that God pitied us in the sorrow of that moment. Perhaps, I wonder, he even wept again.

To read more of Dr. Christie’s article, go here.