The last couple days have been very busy with different friends popping in for tea, Catherine having friends over to play every day (as it is spring break), and doing a lot of reading about grief and how to work through it and move forward. It all seemed to be going well, almost too well until today. If there is one thing I’m learning it is that there are no warnings on this road called grief, no detour signs that say, ‘cliff ahead’ and to be honest, it really sucks. Detour signs would be most helpful. But I guess that’s what happens when someone has become so much apart of your life, there really is no where to turn where you are not reminded of them, whether it is physical, mental, or spiritual. I guess that’s why there are no detour signs, because then that’s all you’d see and for every detour there would be another detour and another until you go crazy going in circles.
Today Marc was telling me he’s worried about Catherine and he wants to take her to Vancouver to explore the beach, go to a few museums, and do some visiting. At first it was just the two of them and I could handle that – almost. When we started talking about making the twosome into a five-some that’s where I needed the giant detour sign. The thought of taking Catherine to the beach brought on such feeling of guilt and sadness that we never managed to take Bernadette to the beach back in October. When we went to Vancouver the girls brought rubber boots, buckets, and shovels, hoping to get to the beach even for an afternoon. But with how weak Bernadette got, and all the turmoil surrounding the trip, we never fulfilled that promise. Those thoughts then turned to other thoughts of unfulfilled promises and plans and next thing I knew I was over the cliff and crashing at the bottom. To quote one of Joseph’s favorite lines “it sucks to be you” which in this case ‘you’ being ‘me’.
This week the book “Grieving with the Help of Your Catholic Faith” came in the mail. At first I was disappointed that it was such a thin book, almost a big booklet, but then I realized it was good because it meant I was able to read it in less than a day. It was written in a question/answer style and one of the questions was “How could a loving God allow this to happen?” The author’s response was: When you turn to your Catholic faith, you see that God allows bad things to happen so that something good can come from it. God did not stop the crucifixion of His own Son – but two days later, God triumphed over death when Jesus rose on Easter Sunday. Grief is the cross that you are being asked to carry. Jesus did not choose His cross. In the same way, you did not want the death of your loved one. But Jesus bore His cross because He knew the Father would make everything right. The cross you carry is painful, but it will eventually lead to resurrection and new life.’
When I first read this answer I was extremely disappointed. I don’t know what I was hoping for and I still don’t, all I do know is that it wasn’t that answer. After more thought, I found the answer made me angry. The biggest reason is that equating bad things happening so that good can come from it to losing a loved one is saying: God allowed this death so that something good could come from it. Well couldn’t a lot MORE good come from having that person alive? (Especially children who still have so much potential for a life time of good.) Aren’t we suppose to cherish life? Aren’t we ‘pro-LIFE’? Life is Good is it not? To say that God allows death so that good can come of it is suggesting that God needs death to bring about good and that sounds awfully close to the ‘culture of death’. Surely God is bigger than that. No?
I remember reading in a Catechism course I took a long time ago that God doesn’t allow anything bad to happen unless He can bring about a greater good. It sounds similar but to me there is a subtle yet big difference. The first one suggests God needs the bad to bring about good and the second suggests that God only allows the bad because He can triumph over it, turning it against the enemy by bringing about an even greater good. Personally I prefer the second. It suggests that God didn’t want Bernadette to suffer and die but He allowed the tragedy only because He could/would bring about a greater good so that He gets the last word and that last word is victory over evil.
In a way it’s like saying that Bernadette was a casualty in this raging war of good vs. evil but what Satan planned for evil God will turn to good. Sometimes we never really see the good that comes from the pain and suffering in our life. I just hope and pray that in Bernadette’s case that we do.
Patti I share your concern about the view expressed in the booklet. It seems to me it is something someone has made up because they don’t have an answer to the question. there may not be an answer. But what we do know that when we pass on that God has a place for us and is ready to receive us. For Bernadette it has just come at an age that is so much before you, your family, any of us would have liked. We may never understand why, no, – probably better to say we WILL never understand why. But we can live with the knowledge that while we live on she is safe and happy with the Lord. Be strong, be brave. She was so much of both – as you know. God bless.
I have difficulty too with the idea that god “allowed” Bernadette to die in order to bring something good from it. My belief is that because we are human terrible things happen like the tragic death of a child. I believe that Our Father is a God of love and he is grieving your loss right beside you. It is time for you to let him put his arms around you and comfort you while you grieve, just as you do for Catherine. You as a loving parent understand when your children get angry when something happens that they don’t like, and you love them through their anger. Anger at the loss of your daughter is a normal reaction and God wants to love you through it for as long as it takes if you let him.
Sometimes a change of scenery can be a good thing! Have you thought that maybe Catherine needs more help, just wonder if some grief counseling would be a good thing for her? I can’t imagine how hard this must be for you all, I’m still praying for you all. God Bless.
I am taking the girls to Vancouver from the 25th – 29th. If you go maybe we can meet up?