On a cold, rainy day, I quietly reflected on the sadness of losing a dear family friend during the Advent Season. Our family friend Maria, a vibrant, holy and very healthy woman of 76, had mysteriously suffered a serious stroke. She was immediately hospitalized with family flying out and her assessment proved even more serious, as she had advanced liver cancer. In addition, this holy woman whose voice was a joy to hear, could no longer speak due to the stroke. Her stay in the hospital was for weeks with friends and family visiting. With little time left, she was allowed to return to her home with family attending her.
Being that is was the Season of Advent, it was very busy for me and my family. I visited when I could, but not as often as I had wanted. I was actually hoping and praying for a recovery and for Maria to have more time left. I treasured our friendship. Sadly, on December 22nd before the start of Mass, the priest gave me the news that she had passed away surrounded by family and friends at her home. It was almost Christmas, a time she so loved with family and friends. The most beautiful and joyful time of the year, and she was gone. My grief was great!
Now once again with this new Season of Advent, I reflect on the difficulty many must face remembering those friends, family and loved ones they lost with the season. Once someone has lost someone during Advent, it is not quite the same for that person. All the festivities, church events, gatherings, bring to mind the one they lost. In many ways, their grief may return and the beauty and joy of the season is tainted. One thinks, how difficult it is to feel the same kind of joy for Advent and Christmas since it now partially for them a reflection of a great loss.
In remembering friends, family and loved ones who have passed during this season, maybe we can incorporate their memory in a holy special way to bring back the peace, joy and relieve the pain. One may host a small Advent party with friends to honor their memory and reflect on the special times shared. Maybe, a small area to pray quietly for the soul of that loved one with a photo and lighted candle. A paid mass intention for that person. Creatively handmade Christmas ornament on the tree that reflects what they loved in life. Time spent praying in the Adoration Chapel to heal and reflect would bring greater peace with the loss.
It is also a good time to reflect upon the “Communion of Saints” during the Season of Advent. In Lisa Hendey’s book, A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms, in Chapter 20 – “Seeking Kinship with the Communion of Saints”, the author has what I find a very comforting simple prayer: “God, I pray for the Communion of Saints. For those known to the world, and for the quiet saints who have shaped my own life, may their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in you.” This beautiful prayer personally says so much to me since I personally believe that my family friend Maria has taken her place among the “quite saints”. To pray this prayer, might bring comfort in praying for your lost one with the Saints. Those truly special departed that you might personally believe are among the “quite saints” in heaven.
One more point, most who have lost someone during his holy Season of Advent, should never feel that they are alone in any grief they may be experiencing. This is a time to reach out to friends or relatives that also knew the person to reflect. shared memories and maybe a few tears. Seeing your parish priest might also be a consideration to reflect on that grief. It is a time not to stand alone, but to reach out in a holy way and maybe also provide comfort to someone who is dealing with the same type of loss.
If you have lost a friend, family member, or loved, one during the Season of Advent, my heart truly goes out to you, I know what you are going through. Know that you are not alone. Let’s pray for those lost during the Advent season, in communion with the holy Saints, as we work towards the celebration of the Birth of Jesus.
Leslie Lenko is part of Team Adoration for a 24 Hour Perpetual Adoration Chapel. She is also an avid fundraiser/event consultant for parish and Catholic organizations. Leslie has been a Vocations Promoter for six-years coordinating between the L.A. Vocations Office and her local parish. She has in the past participated and coordinated the “Adopt A Seminarian Program” through her parish. She resides in Southern California with her family.
Copyright 2012 Leslie Lenko