Experts offer advice, support groups for the bereaved
By ROSE YBARRA The Valley Catholic
The holidays, particularly the first ones after the death of a loved one, are especially difficult for a person who is grieving. Facing that first Thanksgiving and Christmas with an empty place at the table evokes excruciating sadness and many other emotions, said Fina Suarez, whose son, Eddie, died in 2001 at the age of 20.
“I remember the first Thanksgiving without our son,” said Suarez, who serves as director of pastoral care at San Juan Nursing Home, which operates under the guidance of the diocese. “We were sad because we don’t have what we had before – our son is missing. That day, my husband said, ‘how can I tell God, thank you for taking my son? How can I say, thank you, Lord, when my son is not with us anymore?’”
Suarez continued, “But at the same time, we were truly grateful. That day, we also said thank you to the Lord for those wonderful 20 years that He gave us with our son. I’m still very grateful that He gave me this gift, a very precious gift that I enjoyed to the fullest for those 20 years. Instead of focusing on our son’s death, we’d rather focus on the memories, and the joy, and happiness that he brought into our lives.”
Talking about her son at Thanksgiving, as it turned out, was good for everyone, Suarez said, adding that it is vital to give people permission to talk about the deceased friend or family member.
“And that really helped, not just me, but my other family members, to open the conversation and talk about him,” she said. “Many times, when the grieving people are not talking about it, your friends and other family members don’t want to mention anything, because they think they are hurting you by saying something.”
Talking about your loved one is an important part of grieving, especially at holiday gatherings, said Joseph F. Perez, vice president of pastoral service with Valley Baptist Health System in Harlingen.
Perez said some grieving families even choose to share stories about their loved one.
“Of course it’s going to be sad,” he said. “Some of the stories about that loved one will be sad and make people cry. Other stories will be happy and make people laugh, but at least everyone will be honest about it and that’s when healing can take place.”
And being honest about the situation is healthy for those who are grieving, Perez said.
“When you lose a loved one, nothing can ever be like it used to be, because that person is no longer in your life, physically,” he said. “The process of grief is to learn to carry their memory in your heart, but during the holidays, one has to prepare. This loss will affect your holidays and it is normal for it to affect your holidays. It’s ok.”
Suarez, who assists individuals and families with grief on a regular basis through her ministry at the nursing home, said that she and her family have Masses celebrated in her son’s memory. The family also honors him by collecting toys for needy children at Christmas, a cause that was dear to her son.
“Losing my son will always be sad,” said Suarez, who has served at San Juan Nursing Home for more than 20 years. “There is no way to not remember but you can arrive at a place of hope.”
The grieving process is full of ups and downs, highs and lows, Perez said. One moment, the grieving person may be at peace, the next moment, they may be distraught, especially during the first year.
“Grief comes and goes like waves,” he said. “I think of it like you’re on the beach and you have your back to the waves. You feel the constant push, but every once in a while, you get a real big one and it can knock you down. You just don’t know when those strong emotions might come. It could be at the grocery store when you see a certain food, it could be in the car when you hear a song on the radio, just something that hits and touches that tender spot in your heart.”
When it comes to grief, many people say, “this too shall pass,” or “it will heal with time,” but Perez said the notion that time heals all wounds is a myth.
“Time is not the healing agent,” he said. “The healing agent is attention to the wound, over time, heals. Attention to the wound, over time, brings about healing.”
The best way to tend to grief is to face it rather than ignore it, Perez said. Having support, from family, friends or a bereavement support group, is key.
Both San Juan Nursing Home and Valley Baptist Health Systems offer free support groups for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
For more information on support groups at San Juan Nursing Home, call (956) 787-1771. For support groups at Valley Baptist Health System, call (956) 389-1194.
Tips for coping during the holidays without your loved one1. Normalize your feelings. Know that the sadness, the anger, the helplessness, or whatever you are feeling is normal. Give yourself permission to grieve. When people ask you, “How are you doing?” you have the right to answer them honestly if you choose to do so.2. Ask yourself, “What do I want to do this year?” You may find it helpful to try to keep things as “normal” as possible for the sake of continuity. What are your traditions around the special seasons? Or, if it this is too great a burden this year, give yourself permission to do something different or start a new tradition.3. If at all possible, surround yourself with family and people who care. Probably, the hardest thing to do is to be alone.4. Get plenty of rest and eat appropriately. Grief can be tiring work, especially during the holidays. Exercising can also help.5. Seek out the professional support from a pastor / priest or other counselor if necessary.
Source: Valley Baptist Health System
“VERBUM MITTITUR SPIRANS AMOREM”
Join Us for TVC Live Every Tuesday at NoonOur communications team is bringing you the latest news from around the diocese during TVC Live, a 15-minute program featured on the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville Facebook page every Tuesday at noon. The show features stories, interviews and highlights. We also invite you to send us your photos for use in a Photos of the Week segment. They may be sent to email@example.com.
Latest priests’ appointments:
Effective July 15, 2016
Rev. Eusebio Martinez, assigned in residence at Saint Joseph Parish in Brownsville, Texas
Rev. Feliciano Lopez-Ortiz, OMI, transferred by his community to Santa Rosa Parish in San Fernando, California
Rev. Donald Dietz, OMI, transferred by his community to the Shrine of the Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois
Effective July 26, 2016
Rev. Msgr. Gustavo Barrera, reappointed member of RGV Educational Broadcasting Inc. Board
Effective August 1, 2016
Rev. Jorge A. Gomez, appointed member of the College of Consultors
Rev. Juan Pablo Davalos, EV, appointed member of the College of Consultors and of the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine Board
Rev. Luis Fernando Sanchez, EV, appointed member of the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine Board
Rev. Joel R. Flores, appointed Chaplain of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle Catholic Medical Guild
Effective August 22, 2016
Rev. Jesus Edgardo Paredes, appointed Chaplain of the Catholic Student Center for The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College
Spanish Conference Offered for Married CouplesThe Diocese of Brownsville’s Deacon Formation Program in collaboration with Evangelización Activa USA, a new apostolate in the diocese, is sponsoring three Spanish workshops, “El Amor Conyugal,” for married couples in Brownsville, McAllen and Roma. The sessions are scheduled as follows: • August 31, McAllen Convention Center $25, (956) 800-5464 or www.ticketmaster.com• Sept. 1, Performing Arts Center, Roma High School $15, (956) 867-9983 or (956) 263-0161• Sept. 2, Jacob Brown Auditorium, Brownsville, $20
Conferencia: El Amor ConyugalEl Programa del Diaconado en la Diócesis de Brownsville junto con Evangelización Activa USA está preparando en una serie de conferencias en Brownsville, McAllen y Roma. El Tema “El Amor Conyugal” está basado del libro de Génesis 2, 24 y será impartido por el Padre Ernesto María Caro los días 31 de Agosto, 1 y 2 de Septiembre. Para más información llame (956) 263-0161.
Mass for Lay Ecclesial Movements, Apostolates and Associations set for Sept. 10Bishop Daniel E. Flores will celebrate a special Mass for all members of lay ecclesial movements, apostolates and associations at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10 at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine.
Some of the movements and apostolates in the diocese include Knights of Columbus, Catholic Daughters of the Americas, Cursillos de Cristiandad, ACTS, Movimiento Familiar Cristiano, Marriage Encounter, Encuentro Matrimonial, Couples for Christ, Regnum Christi, Comunidad Catolica AMA, Renovacion Carismatica (Charismatic Renewal), Talleres de Oracion, Ministerio de Sanacion Interior, Apostolado de la Cruz, Apostoles de la Palabra, Evangelizacion Activa USA, Apostolado Nueva Evangelizacion, Asociacion de Mujeres Catolicas de Brownsville, Movimiento de la Llama de Amor del Inmaculado Corazon de Maria, Legion of Mary, Schoenstatt Movement, Real Men Pray the Rosary, RGV Catholic Men’s Fellowship, Marian Conference, Fountain of Mercy, Divine Mercy, Pro-Life Apostolate, Consecration to Mary, Catholics United for the Faith, Benedictine Oblates, Third Order Franciscans, Encuentro Catolico Musical, Altar & Rosary Society, Young Adult Ambassadors, Hospital Chaplains, Jail Ministry Chaplains, and Serra Clubs of the Rio Grande Valley.
Attendees are asked to bring banners and stands and wear their respective shirts. For more information, email Deacon Luis Zuniga at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (956) 784-5059.
KAUSSA Catholic Young ProfessionalsKAUSSA Catholic Young Professionals invites young adults ages 21-39 to join for an evening of fellowship, networking, and personal growth based on a common Catholic identity. For more information about KAUSSA Catholic Young Professionals, please contact Raul Cabrera at (956) 784-5045 or email email@example.com. The next gatherings include:
Sept. 6Featured Speakers: Mr. & Mrs. Jesus Saenz, Saenz Pharmacy6:30 – 8:30 p.m.Our Lady of Sorrows Conference Room1108 W. Hackberry Ave., McAllen Oct. 4Theology on Tap7 – 9 p.m.TBA Harlingen Nov. 8Election Night Party Mixer6:30 – 8:30 p.m.BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse 3200 W. Expressway 83, McAllen Dec. 10Service: Hospice VisitAll dayComfort House 617 Dallas Ave., McAllen Young Adult Ambassadors NeededAre you passionate about young adult ministry? The office of Campus & Young Adult Ministry encourages you to apply for Bishop’s Young Adult Ambassadors. Applicants must either live, work, study, and/or worship in the boundaries of the Diocese of Brownsville and be between the ages of 18 and 39. They must also demonstrate an ability to speak and advocate on behalf of their peers, work collaboratively with other young adults, and be open to using their spiritual gifts, talents, and leadership abilities in the service of the Catholic Church. The deadline to apply is Aug. 12. All applicants will be contacted with the final decision the third week of August. Download the application at www.cyam.net. For more information about Bishop’s Young Adult Ambassadors, please contact Raul Cabrera at (956) 784-5045 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local Catholic Daughters Court Honored for Best Newsletter Catholic Daughters of the Americas, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Living Rosary Court #2540 Newsletter Committee from Holy Spirit Catholic Church in McAllen, received first place in Category I Division I of the National Newsletter Contest. This national honor was presented to Court #2540 at the 58th Biennial National Convention held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 24.
In order to qualify for the National Newsletter Contest, Court #2540 newsletters had to first win the Texas State Competition, which they did on May 1. The Texas 1st Place Newsletter Award was presented to the newsletter committee by Rosie Stockwell, First Vice State Regent on May 8, 2016.
The purpose of court newsletters are to inform, celebrate court projects and successes and to recruit new members. Newsletters are judged on the following criteria: layout, headlines, local, state and national coverage, journalistic styling and special features. Winning this national award was due to the diligent and hard work of the newsletter committee members, the support of Court #2540 officers and the contributions submitted by all committee chairpersons. This labor of love is reflective of the CDA Motto: “Unity and Charity.”
More information about Catholic Daughters may be found at www.texascda.org or www.catholicdaughters.org. For information about joining CDA Court #2540 contact Sonia Mejia, Regent or Terry Ramirez, Vice Regent at (956) 631-5295
Grief Recovery Support GroupFountain of Mercy Ministries is hosting a support group for adults titled, “Real Help for Deep Hurt,” for those grieving the death of a loved one. The group will meet Tuesday, Sept. 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Divine Mercy Center located at 3701 S. Westgate Dr. in Weslaco. There is no fee for attendance but a pre-registration is required for attendance. For additional information and registration contact Yolanda at (956) 454-2103.
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Catholic Diocese of Brownsville1910 University Boulevard • Brownsville, Texas 78520 • (956) 542-2501 • (956) 542-6751 Fax 700 North Virgen de San Juan Blvd • San Juan, Texas 78589 • (956) 781-5323 • (956) 784-5081 Fax Contact Us Copyright © 2014 Diocese of Brownsville. All Rights Reserved.