The way I see it


(The following article by Wayne Kneeskern, a member of Ss. Joseph & Cabrini Parish in Richland-East Pleasant Plain, has been excerpted from his column in Neighbors Magazine, with his permission.)

By Wayne Kneeskern
For The Catholic Messenger

My reading continues to give me great quotes from famous people to contemplate and absorb into my thoughts. One that fits into my life at this time of year is from Henry Wads­worth Longfellow.

“Proof of Life”
Life is real!
Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.


As I see it, the above quote, along with the one below from a greeting card by Hallmark, says it better than I ever could. Hallmark gives us words to convey meaningful thoughts and feelings to those needing them.


“The heart remembers most what it has loved best. Thinking of you today and hoping you find comfort knowing that others are remembering, too.”

Five years ago on Nov. 19, my wife, Gert, died at the age of 70. A day doesn’t go by that she is not in my thoughts and actions as I move forward with my life — however slowly. This time of year is hard for me.

I have gone back over some of the books, cards and other materials that people shared to help me through a difficult time. Just like a good book, I need to go back and reread some of those things when I feel down and need some uplifting and comfort.

As I see it, I try to pass on to you what others have written and how it helped me. For anyone going through similar and equally difficult times, I hope you might find meaning and comfort in them as well.

When someone we love dies, our lives are changed forever. The pain and loneliness in grief is unimaginable, as those of us who have lost someone close know. The biggest question is, “When do we get over it?” The answer seems to be “I don’t know.”

As an avid sports fan I tend to compare things in my life to things in sports. Grieving the loss of a loved one and learning to live without them is “a whole new ballgame.” Some of the things I have experienced are sad, some are fun, some are bad, some are good, some are frustrating, some are educational; and all have tested my ability to not let loneliness get the best of me. For me, this has been possible by keeping the faith.

How we grieve will vary with each of us. There is no correct way to grieve and no time limit. There is no right way or right time to cry and mourn. There is consolation in knowing that we are not the first, nor the last, to experience some of what we feel.

As the days, weeks, months and years pass, it is a constant challenge within me to live without my “better half.” People tell me I need to put the past behind me and move on with my life. But getting over the past is too much to ask. I never know when something will trigger my memories and take over my emotions. The past is part of us and we can’t change what is done.

We Americans love the quick fix — solving problems at the push of a button. But the human condition, especially the experience of grief, takes time and needs gentle attention.

The sudden loss of a loved one is mind-boggling, especially during those first days. We experience our pain and, over time, accept the reality of our loss. We relearn how to live in a world that has been changed forever by our loss. What was once “normal” is now different. We need to remember that it is okay to laugh and be happy. It is okay to weep. It is okay to miss a loved one for the rest of our lives.

The holidays are still hard, but we’ve developed a new way of celebrating. She is still there with us in spirit. When I hear that someone’s loved one has died, I react differently now. I understand more of what they are going through.

I would like to close with a quote from Father Joe Kempf’s book “No One Cries the Wrong Way:”

“The promise of life after death helps us to know that, even now, we are connected with our loved ones who have died. Just because they died does not mean that our relationship with them has ended. Nothing can keep love from being communicated, not even death.”

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