Welcome to our Blessed Chats series! Each month, we will dedicate an entire week of blog posts to a topic that affects many of us. These conversations often come up in our Facebook groups and in our real life friendships. We want to share a variety of perspectives on the topic at hand, so we’ve asked women to share their stories and how the teachings of the Church have guided and comforted them. In this series, we’re talking more about grief. We’d love for you to join the conversation!
When my sweet Momma passed away, I only wanted one thing from her apartment. It was a statue of a young girl praying in front of a crucifix. It was made in Hungary, the place of the first twenty-one years of her life.
This little statue embodies my Mom. She was humble, trusting, and devoted to the Lord. Though her tiny frame had become hunched, her legs swollen, and her hair snow-white, her green eyes sparkled with kindness and her smile conveyed God’s love. She spent her days spreading joy to all in her path, which was many because she lived in an assisted living facility.
When I used to visit, we bumped into many folks and they always stopped us so they could tell me how my Momma never said anything bad about anyone, how she was an inspiration walking bent over and dragging her swollen legs, how she was always on her way to spread cheer or bring a card/gift to someone in need. Her entire life was dedicated to serving the Lord by lovingly taking care of her family, friends, and all in need.
My Mom, My Best Friend
Growing up with all brothers, my Momma became my sister, best girlfriend, and Mom rolled into one. We spoke on the phone every day since I left for college. Due to COVID-19, I was not able to be with my Momma for five months. The closest I got to her was a few twenty-minute visits through the window, which was a step-up from waving to her from the third-floor balcony.
My dear Mom would ask when I would be able to visit her again, attend church together, and enjoy Sunday brunch. I tried to give encouragement, but the months were dragging on. There are no words to describe the agonizing pain of being separated from a loved one. I know there are many sisters who understand this torture. It was especially difficult because she was isolated and hardly had a chance to walk or leave her apartment.
Finally Together Again
The first time I could be with her was when the nurse called to tell me that my Mom was doing poorly in the hospital and I should come right away. She had been admitted at the beginning of August. My husband drove me to the hospital because I could not see through the veil of tears. I walked into the room to find her unresponsive with a large oxygen mask on her face. Uncontrollable sobs left my body and the nurse hugged me. After five long months, I could only tell her close to her ear how much I love her and how much Jesus loves her. The nurse allowed me to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet before they took her to the ICU for more intensive treatment.
Unfortunately, she did not respond to the aggressive treatment and she was placed on palliative care. My family and I did not know how long she would be with us and we did not think she would be conscious, but the Lord gave us a miraculous gift. She was able to speak to us a little, though it was difficult. She never opened her eyes except once when she smiled at me. It filled me with joy and I asked my Momma if she saw me.
She said, “no.”
That was hard to hear, but I was still grateful we could communicate.
I asked her what she saw and she said, “Light and flowers.” We were able to express our great love for each other and prayed together before she passed.
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Consoled by the Comforter
As I experienced excruciating grief, I thought and prayed about what she said. I felt the Holy Spirit guide me to John 8:12:
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
Then He steered me to a quote from Saint Gaspar del Bufalo that I had never seen:
“In the garden of the Church, Mary gathers three flowers and places them into your hands: the white lily, the red rose, the violet.
The lily is the symbol of purity of conscience of life.
The rose represents that burning love which purifies, perfects, and elevates the heart to God. This love is then seen in great charity to one’s neighbor.
The violet is the emblem of true humility and self-sacrifice.
The picture of the lily draws you away from the world. The image of the rose unites you with the heart of Jesus. Finally, the violet makes you partakers of the fruits of the Cross of Jesus.
May the most holy Virgin who presents you with these flowers, find them still in your hands in your last agony as a pledge for entrance into the home to which only the pure lovers of Jesus Crucified are admitted.”
After reading this verse and this quote, I am filled with joy, awe, and peace in the Lord. I believe that my Mom had a bouquet of lilies, roses, and violets in her little hands to offer Him.
He Always Gives Us What We Need
My pastor told us that the Lord does not always grant a “yes” to all our petitions, but He will always grant us spiritual gifts if we ask for them with a humble and contrite heart. Dear sisters, this may cause some pain and discomfort as we are molded in His image; but like childbirth, it is so incredibly worth it. The more we become like Him, the more we are filled with His indescribable joy, peace, and love which will overflow to all in our path.
Some ways that have helped me to live each day with purity, love, and devotion to Our Lord and neighbor, humility, and self-sacrifice are:
- Every morning, I imagine the Blessed Mother handing me a lily, rose, and violet and I pray to the Lord and ask for Our Lady’s intercession to help me embody these virtues so that I can give all three flowers to Him when the day is done.
- Call upon our friends, the Saints. Pray to them for their intercession and post their quotes in your line of vision.
What the Saints Say about Virtue in the Face of Sorrow
- Purity // Saint Peter Julian Eymard said, “We must be pure. I do not speak merely of the purity of the senses. We must observe great purity in our will, in our intentions, in all our actions.”
- Love of God and Neighbor // Saint Vincent de Paul said, “We must love our neighbor as being made in the image of God and as an object of His love.” St. Vincent de Paul
- Humility // Saint Teresa of Calcutta said, “Humility is the mother of all virtues; purity, charity, and obedience. It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted, and ardent. If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.”
- Self-Sacrifice // Pope Saint John Paul II said, “There is no place for selfishness—and no place for fear! Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands. Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice.”
If you want more help with finding your own story, our popular Write + Pray course offers 9 topics, nearly an hour of guided video, and almost 50 Scripture verses and questions for you featuring Managing Editor Nell O’Leary. Find your story today.
Bonnie Kate is married to her Saint Joseph, momma to two amazing people, a nurse by trade, and passionate about the Catholic Faith. She co-leads a Parish Bible Study and is a Eucharistic Minister for the homebound. Bonnie loves her sisters in Christ (she grew up with a lot of brothers), getting lost in nature, spreading encouragement, creating with words, Saint quotes, feeding people (she is Hungarian), and Holy Spirit moments. You can find out more about her here.