Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross in Green Bay, WI

Paschal Mystery can help us deal with the messiness of grief

by Associate Carla Schommer
Spring 2019 newsletter

Deacon George Schraufnagel’s presentation at the March 9 Associate Gathering centered on “Messages on Suffering & Grief -- How to Deal with Cancer, Death of a Loved One, and End of Life”. It deeply touched his personal story as well as the personal stories of suffering, loss and grief, of all in attendance.

Losses in our lives come in many forms throughout life -- jobs, relationships, abilities -- each involving a grieving process. Deacon George helped us understand that grieving is part of our human condition. Yet, we respond to grief by wanting to push it aside. Why? Grief hurts! Grief is messy!

Deacon George described grief as putting your thoughts and feelings all out on the table, then shuffling them around time and again. Eventually, you gather them up, put them in a bag (“man-bag” for him), and carry it around. Eventually you will set down the heavy bag, open it up, and begin to deal with it. Each grief we face is unique and individual as the loss that occurred.

Deacon George shared that the cross, death and resurrection provide us with a way to move through the grief process that always ends with Jesus in the “Garden of Paradise.” Deacon George also shared ways to help someone who is grieving. The best help we can offer is to listen, offer a shoulder to lean on, and hugs. There are no right words, or easy words, to offer to one who is grieving. If we do offer words, he encouraged us to use the words of the person sharing their grief.

LIVING GARDEN, LIVING MEMORIES: Deacon George Schraufnagel dubbed his bouquet “Garden of Paradise.” It features two figurines originally given in a floral arrangement in remembrance of his two grandchildren who died after 21 weeks gestation. There’s also a cross from a floral spray for late his wife, Linda. Deacon George adds funeral cards to the bouquet as people pass on from his parish, St. John Nepomucene in Little Chute. “It reminds me to offer prayers for my lost loved ones and helps me to pray for our parishioners and their families as they move through the grieving process.” (Renae Bauer photo)

Stay in touch -- This story originally appeared in the Sisters' newsletter. Subscribe to our FREE printed newsletter (issued five times a year) and our FREE e-spiritual reflections (weekly). We enjoy hearing from you so visit our “Send a Greeting to Sister” page and say hello. Thank you and God bless!

Please Share Me On