Another intimate sharing in the face of bereavement that cannot fail to touch us as we recall times of personal mourning.

Do not think, my dear friend, that it is through forgetfulness that I do not write to you. I tell myself every day it is a long time since I have done so; I need to converse with you, I feel it, I would not let you out of my sight a moment if you were near me; but on entering my study, I have as much repugnance for anything requiring attention as someone with hydrophobia has for water. Such is the state in which this bereavement has left me and which I feel as much now as I did on the first day.
I do not think I am lacking resignation; I do not refuse the consolations which the holy death of this too dear child procures for a Christian father; but the still bleeding wound cannot be healed, even by this supernatural balm.
I always have my child before my eyes, just as grace fashioned him in his last illness; I review in my mind all the circumstances of his life; I recall to mind all the sentiments which he never tired of expressing to me. The happiness that I experienced after certain clouds were dissipated and after he tried to ease my heart over the sorrows which grieved him so to have given me; the hopes that I had formed for the future, either for my personal peace or for the good of the Society, come back so keenly, so profoundly, so continually that it is remarkable that I hold up.
My firm constitution must however reassure you as to my physical condition; but as to my morale, I am affected, I am truly ill; I am no longer able to concentrate; my spirit goes by itself towards the object of my love and of my eternal regret. I think of him; I speak of him, I dwell on him ceaselessly; I am in no state to write a letter.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 19 February 1829, EO VII n 325

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.”    Washington Irving

This entry was posted in WRITINGS. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I sat here this morning in the midst of a very nice and ‘easy’ reflection, allowing my mind to repeat platitudes and reasons for both hiding our grief and for sharing it with others.

    Then for some reason I moved to Jesus on the Cross and looked through his eyes at Mary and those around who watched. Did Mary cry I asked myself? Of course she did and I imagine that she did not always look so serene as she stood there at the foot of the cross. She must have grieved for days and weeks after he died – even though he rose. And then when he ascended into heaven (whatever that did or did not look like) she had to let go once again. More tears and sorrow with that loss, evening knowing that he had risen from the dead?

    These are not nice comfortable holy thoughts – they touch me in a way that opens me, makes me want to hide my own experience of that. I think now of my son who died 43 years ago. Because of where I was in life it took me many years to be able to face his death and grieve it, to not hide it away so that I did not have to experience the unspeakable pain that the loss of him brought to my heart. I still grieve when I think of him, and even now tears fill my eyes. The tears and the sorrow have softened over the years. The piece or place of my heart which I gave so freely is still missing in a way. A small hole that will be filled only when I die and am reunited in a fuller and better way with those I have loved and lost.

    When I first began this morning I tried to hide from the depth of Eugene’s love and sorrow, every bit as much as from the depth of my own experience of loss of one who I loved. Oddly my thoughts of Jesus and Mary did not lessen that loss and pain but they did comfort me for I am not alone.

  2. Peg Hanafin says:

    Tears of sorrow the hardest of all
    to heal. God come to our aid. .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *