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Is a “Celebration of Life” Enough?

st joseph shawnee

Not long ago, I attended a celebration of life. It was a very nice event with an opportunity to extend condolences to the family and listen to loved ones share the joy that the deceased’s life had given. It was nice to celebrate a life well lived, and yet it left me feeling a little bit empty. In addition to celebrating, there was cause for mourning. Certainly, life is something to be celebrated, but how do we mourn the loss of someone from our lives? In the Catholic faith, it is more than a nice custom to have a funeral mass, burial service, even a rosary at the visitation. It is a blessing and a responsibility as people of faith.

Increasingly in our culture, we turn our eye away from the sacredness and the sorrow of death, being led to feel like the appropriate response is to focus on the positive. Accentuate the good things, find peace that someone is now in a “better place.” But we must also process the sorrow, the inevitable sadness, grief that can’t be extinguished, the spectrum of feelings that are a part of our humanity. We share the divinity and grace of our Lord who gives us peace through prayer, compassion, sharing. We take time to not only reflect on a loved one’s life well lived, but also to console each other and experience together the sacredness in death as well as life, impacting us not only bodily but spiritually. In light of your faith, is a celebration of the highlights enough?

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