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WHAT A PRIEST KNOWS ABOUT GRIEF

There’s a well-known saying in showbiz that you are only as good as your last performance.

It applies well beyond show business. It’s the same for me as a celebrant of the most important moments in people’s lives – the birth of their children, their marriages and the celebration of that terminal event, death.

I’ve done hundreds of funerals and no one is like any other. We don’t need to go into detail on that, because The Hoopla editors have asked me to say what it’s like being inside the celebration of a life that’s ended and that’s what I’ll try to ...

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15 Comments

  • Reply August 25, 2011

    Shazza

    Really? You removed the original article on the topic of grief by Wendy? And replaced it with this? And this is supposed to be a site for thinking women? You removed the comments on the prior post? And now, I wonder why this one has no comments……? Pfftt! (except for this one of course).

  • Reply August 25, 2011

    Wendy Harmer

    Dear Shazza, Fr. Michael has officiated at hundreds of funerals and I have not. Not even one.I defer to his greater experience on the matter and I’d like to think the Hoopla is, literally, a broad church. I know Fr. Michael has brought great comfort to so many people. He has sat with them in their darkest hours and I admire his tenacity find his insights fascinating. Right now a friend who lost her son says she is his rock. Good enough for me. WXX

  • Reply August 26, 2011

    gardnerm

    Way to go Wendy.

  • Reply August 26, 2011

    donna

    Shazza, the other article is still there. There’s a link to it at the bottom of this story.

  • Reply August 26, 2011

    Shazza

    Wendy as I pointed out after your article, grief is not only about death. It is a far broader experience. Your article was more encompassing in it’s scope, and I think therefore more thoughtful.

    Personally I don’t think officiating at funerals makes anyone an expert on grief but that’s just me. I have no doubt he has bought comfort to many, but thats not the topic is it? Or have I missed something?

    gardnerm “Way to go?” Are we at a footy match? Is this a competition?

    donna, thanks for that info.

  • Reply August 26, 2011

    Shazza

    @gardnerm, just re read my comment to you and wanted to apologise. It came out much snarkier than intended. I should know better that to comment on the run.

  • Reply August 26, 2011

    Boy's view

    Interesting. So in this case the article is all about grief in death related matters. So I will not talk about grief relating to other matters such as failed marriage (sometimes a crippling experience – just ask any employer). In my limited experience of death related grief, I have 2 things to say. Firstly, that I wouldn’t want anyone from the Catholic Church within a bull’s roar of the occasion. An organisation whose stack and trade is lies and obfuscation is not one I ever want to deal with. Obviously not every Catholic is shambolic nor a paedophile, but many are; as has been shown through investigations throughout the world. Secondly, in my experience, some funerals are joyful occasions where the departed has had welcome and timely release from pain, suffering and sometimes depression. Those lives were celebrated for their rich bounty. My mother for instance was a woman of infinite love who truly never said a spiteful work against anyone – not even the priests who raped her sons, nor the Church she loved who squandered absolutely MILLIONS on trying to deprive victims, witnesses and families of their right to justice and retribution for the sins of their brothers, priests and bishops. She joined with other like-minded and loving women (why is it mainly the women?) in ecumenical movements outside mainstream churches or sects to provide love, care and support to other families and individuals. We family members were laughing and recalling her wit as we carried her in her coffin to her grave where she was buried with her beloved husband (who conveniently was also dead) and her cherished son. So it is sad that in the hundreds of funerals that your Jesuit presided over, that he found every one of them to be “terrible”. In the 3 funerals that touched me personally, none were terrible. One was far too premature, and one was a welcome release, however all three were celebrations accompanied with much humour and laughter.

  • Reply August 26, 2011

    Shazza

    Boy’s view, you raise another example of grief. One that, as a social worker who specialised in trauma, I saw often. The grief and sense of loss that can last a life time as a result of childhood abuse. That as a vulnerable young person you could not rely on those entrusted with your care to protect you, and that others happily exploited that fact. A grief that often resurfaces once the former victim has children of their own.

    I too have had my fair share of losses at deaths hand. In one year I lost three very close people. That took some getting over. But never have I seen grief that lasts the entire life span like that carried by a traumatised child.

  • Reply September 15, 2011

    THE BROTHER I LOST

    [...] Are you okay? [...]

  • Reply December 2, 2011

    GoldGirl

    Grief & how long is too long? It’s always too long while you’re in it.

    Having ‘made it through’ a few deaths over the past 20 years & having just passed the 3 year+ mark with my gorgeous mum, I can only agree with your expert .
    He does know his stuff… And I don’t believe in ANY god at all
    Losing your mother is one of the big ones & 3 years+ feels a whole lot better today than this time last year.
    They say ‘time is the only healer for the loss of a mother’ (…or ‘another.’ ) And it is absolutely true.
    You never think you can put a time to these things but you can when it actually happens.

    You’ll always miss them & you’ll think about them every day but the edges have been worn down just a little bit more…
    Relief in increments is such a relief… xxx

  • Reply June 9, 2012

    Jenny

    This subject hits me at a time when I should be feeling grief at the death of a sister. But, because she was deeply mentally disturbed, and because her life was a misery, I don’t feel anything. Sure, that could be shock, early stages. I just feel it completely unfair that she should so rarely have experienced happiness, so often lived in turmoil, at war with everyone who tried to help her. And so many did, Health p;rofessionals, family members, friends. Trying to help and not succeeding caused many people sorrow. But now it’s all over and there’s nothing, not even an empty space.. We are to have a very quiet farewell service, just her siblings, conducted by a priest who seems to understand that ‘to celebrate her life’ would be totally inappropriate. And yet we cannot celebrate her death. Maybe I have already grieved for her… every day of her unhappy life.

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