We had a memorial Mass and rosary for a 3rd grade child that died this morning (he was a student at my school and in the same grade as my son). He had been struggling with cancer for several years now. When my dad died several years ago I found a book with quotes about death and dying. I collected my favorites and now share them with people when they experience a loss. Here they are:
It’s OK to scream at God. He can take it.
Cancer is not God’s will.
The death of a child is not God’s will.
Deaths from automobile accidents are not God’s will.
The only God worth believing in does not cause tragedies
but lovingly comes into the anguish with us.
For I know the plans I have for you;
plans to comfort you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.
-God (Jeremiah 29:11)
The conventional explanation,
that God sends us the burden
because he knows that we are strong enough to handle it,
has it all wrong.
Fate, not God, sends us the anguish.
When we try to deal with it, we find out that we are not strong.
We are weak; we get tired, we get angry, we get overwhelmed.
We begin to wonder how we will ever make it through all the years.
But when we reach the limits of our own strength and courage,
something unexpected happens.
We find reinforcement coming from a source outside of ourselves.
And in the knowledge that we are not alone,
that God is on our side, we manage to go on.
– Harold S. Kushner, When Bad Things Happen to Good People
Then what has been the reason for all of this?” Freddie continued to question. “Why were we here at all if we only have to fall and die?”
Daniel answered in his matter-of-fact way, “It’s been about the sun and the moon. It’s been about happy times together. It’s been about the shade and the old people and the children. It’s been about colors in Fall. It’s been about seasons. Isn’t that enough?”
That afternoon, in the golden sunlight of dusk, Daniel let go. He fell effortlessly. He seemed to smile peacefully as he fell. “Good-bye for now Freddie,” he said.
-Leo Buscaglia, The Fall of Freddie the Leaf
I have seen death too often to believe in death.
It is not an ending—but a withdrawal,
as one who finishes a long journey,
stills the motor, turns off the lights, steps from his car
and walks up the path to the home that awaits him.
Death is nothing at all—
I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I, and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other, that we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way you always used.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Life means all that it ever meant.
There is absolutely unbroken continuity . . .
Why should I be out mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you—for an interval—somewhere near,
Just around the corner. All is well.
-Henry Scott Holland
But when God sent you to me
He never said that you were mine,
That I could keep you always—
Only borrowed for a time.
Now he’s called you home,
I’m sad and I shed tears.
Yet I’m glad he loaned you to me
And we had these many years.
-Edna T. Burch, Missing You
God is closest to those with broken hearts.
“You will not always hurt like this.”
These words are true.
If they do not reach your heart today,
Do not reject them:
Keep them in your mind.
One morning, not tomorrow perhaps,
But the day after tomorrow,
Or the month after next month . . .
One morning the dawn will wake you
With the inconceivable surprise:
Your grief will have lost one small moment of its force.
Be ready for the time when you can feel for yourself
That these words are true:
“You will not always hurt like this.”
-Sascha, “True Words”
If you can’t pray as you want to, Pray as you can.
God knows what you mean.
Lean on Me, child, and cry—I know your heart is broken. I called your loved one home today, he is with Me. Look to Me, child, and trust. I am acquainted with grief. Hold on to Me, child. I know the searing of your soul, and I will ease your pain. Keep your eyes on Me, child. I will not abandon you. Be comforted, My child. Your loved one is rejoicing in My presence. Someday, My child, you will be with Me, and see your loved one again, where you will know no tears, death or loneliness. I love you, dear child, and know your hurt . . . So lean on me and cry.
-Donna Leonard, “Compassionate Christ”
I am the Resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies, he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
-Jesus (John 11:26)
I pray for the child who died, and for is family – please remember them in your prayers.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace.
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God,
rest in peace.
Blessings & Peace,