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EPISODE #294
EMPOWERED BY THE SPIRIT: OVERCOMING GRIEF DURING THE HOLIDAYS

It’s no secret that the holiday season can be a difficult time for many, for a variety of reasons. On today’s Empowered by the Spirit broadcast, Deacon Steve welcomes two friends to the studio who have a lot of experience to share in this area. Their names are Joe Fitzgerald and Becky Lomaka, and they come to us from O’Connor Mortuary in Laguna Hills, CA.

You are sure to gain some nuggets of wisdom from this timely conversation!

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 12/19/21

EPISODE#54
CATHEDRAL SQUARE: GUEST IS LINDA JI – DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF FAMILY LIFE IN THE DIOCESE OF ORANGE

On this episode, host Fr. Christopher Smith welcomes a guest who is making a real impact on the lives of many families throughout our diocese. Her name is Linda Ji; and, her title is Director of the Office of Family Life in the Diocese of Orange.

With a job title like that, one can only imagine all the hats that Linda wears each day.

Listen in.. and, be sure to share this podcast with a friend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Original broadcast on 4/10/21

EPISODE#221
OC CATHOLIC RADIO: GUEST IS JENNIFER DAGARAG, RN

Host Rick Howick interviews guests on a variety of topics.

Our guest today is someone who has been on the frontlines in helping people during these times of the coronavirus pandemic. Her name is Jennifer Dagarag. She is a registered nurse serving the diocese at her parish in Cypress, St.

Irenaeus. Jennifer is seeing firsthand how parishioners’ mental health is being affected by the pandemic.

She shares stories of both heartbreak and triumph. Join us for this important discussion!

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 2/13/21

GRIEF AT THE HOLIDAYS

The coronavirus pandemic makes 2020’s holiday season fraught with uncertainty. If you’re also suffering the loss of a loved one, this time of year is downright painful. 

As I prepare to celebrate Halloween, one of our family’s favorite holidays, and begin penciling out our Thanksgiving feast, I feel pangs of grief for the loss of those who won’t join our celebrations. 

Grief can hit hardest at ‘the most wonderful time of the year,’ when we are expected to be ever joyful. For the sandwich generation – those of us caring for children and aging parents at the same time – the extra burdens of parties, preparations, gift-giving, and travel can overwhelm us. If you’re grieving, the holidays seem insurmountable. 

It’s important for Catholic families to turn to God at times of grief and pain. “The beauty of our Catholic faith is that we possess the understanding of the theology and gift of redemptive suffering,” notes writer Jeanie Ewing in a December 2018 story from Today’s Catholic. 

“Even more, we know that death is not the punctuation at the end of our lives. Rather, we carry the hope that resurrection awaits each of us, especially those who are faithful to God and try their best to live virtuous lives.” 

I’ve found it healing to discuss memories of my late father at family gatherings. Reminiscing about the time he stole my son’s plate of holiday fudge seems to bring him to life again. Every time I make fudge I smile at that memory. 

Take the time to be sad, angry, quiet, or talkative about the lost loved one, recommends Elena LaVictoire at CatholicMom.com. “I really think we ‘do’ grief badly in this country,” LaVictoire writes. “It’s almost as if the day after the funeral, life should be back to normal, but for someone who has lost a dear friend or a loved one, that ‘normal’ life is over and it takes time to find out what the new normal is. 

“The same will be true for families after a divorce, or a serious illness, or for family with loved ones not able to be with them for the holidays.” 

Lighting a candle at home or in church and saying a prayer memorializes a loved one. Talking to God about our grief is not only comforting but provides us the opportunity to grow closer to Him in prayer. 

Catholic Health Services offers these useful suggestions for those grieving at the holidays. 

 

  • Do be gentle with yourself and protect yourself.
  • Don’t do more than you want, and don’t do anything that does not serve your soul and your loss.
  • Do allow time for feelings.
  • Don’t keep feelings bottled up. If you have 500 tears to cry don’t stop at 250.
  • Do allow others to help. We all need help at certain times in our lives.
  • Don’t ask if you can help or should help a friend in grief. Just help. Find ways; invite them to group events or just out for coffee.
  • Do, in grief, pay extra attention to the children. Children are too often the forgotten grievers.

 

Catholic Hospice care extends to the family of the patient with bereavement and counseling services. Call 800-533-3933 to request information or learn more at  catholichospice.org 

EPISODE #254
EMPOWERED BY THE SPIRIT: GRIEF TO GRACE – THE SERAPHIM PROJECT

Host Deacon Steve Greco interviews guests on a variety of topics. On today’s show, he welcomes a very talented singer-songwriter to the studio. Her name is Lauren Lindstrom, and today she’s going to share the story of her journey; and, about something called “The Seraphim Project.”

She’s also going to delight us with her gift of music and song.

Tune in, and share with a friend! 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 8/16/20

TALKING ABOUT GOD AND GRIEF WITH CHILDREN

February is a tough month for our family, bringing the anniversaries of our twins’ deaths. Each year I find myself answering hard questions from our sons about their sisters. Why did they die? Where are they now? Will I get to see them again? 

As a parent who is theologically trained (and personally affected), I find it fascinating to reflect on children’s perspectives on grief and loss. Kids ask the same questions as adults, crystallized to their purest form. They are unashamed to express intense emotion — if given safe space. 

In past generations, well-meaning professionals counseled parents to protect children from life’s losses. Research now affirms that both adults and children benefit from talking openly about death and learning to cope with loss in healthy ways. 

A child old enough to love is old enough to grieve. Studies have shown that even the youngest children can be affected by the disruptions that grief brings to a family. 

Here are three questions I often hear children (and adults) ask while grieving. While I’m not a clinical counselor or a medical professional, I can speak to the theological realities behind these questions — and encourage you to draw from your own faith when children in your family are touched by grief. 

 

Why did God let this happen? 

The problem of suffering surfaces as quickly for children as for adults. Did God want this to happen? Why did God answer other prayers but not ours? How can we trust that God is still good? 

Scripture speaks of God weeping with us (Jn 11:35), promising to destroy grief (Rv 21:4) and desiring life, not death (Ez 18:32). Sharing these stories with children can open up new ways of understanding God after loss. 

Older kids and teenagers can tackle thornier discussions: the doctrine of free will, the nature of sin and the reality of evil. But for all who mourn, remembering that God remains with us in sadness and suffering is what we need to hear first and foremost when someone we love has died. 

 

Will I die, too? 

Children are quick to worry once faced with mortality. Will my mom and dad die now? If I get sick, am I going to die? 

While we can assure kids that modern medicine is powerful, it’s equally true that healing is a mystery. Some people recover, some die and none of us will be here on earth forever. Faith means embracing mystery and trusting in what we cannot fully understand. 

Reminding children of God’s particular love for them can bring comfort. God created them and knows them (Is 43:1). God counts each of their hairs (Mt 10:30). God calls them by name (Jn 10:3). 

 

Are they in heaven? 

Young children are often preoccupied with physicality. Where did my friend go? Why can’t I see Grandpa anymore? 

When we mourn at any age, it helps to remember what the church teaches about salvation and resurrection. We pray that our beloved dead are in the hands of God. We hope to see them again in heaven. We stay connected through the communion of saints, asking them to pray for us and believing they remain united with us in love beyond what we can see. 

Grieving children (and adults) need reassurance and reminders of God’s love through life’s hard times. We don’t have to hide the truth or offer easy answers in order to share God’s comfort. 

Sitting with kids’ questions, making space for their emotions and surrounding them with love reflects our faith in the God who welcomed children and wept with mourners — the God who knows grief.