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Catherine Madera on How Her Faith Helps Her Cope with Grief

Catherine Madera lost her beloved younger sister to cancer, but she has been able to deal with the hurt and sadness that loss has brought her because of her faith in God.

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Hi Guideposts. I’m Catherine Madera, and it’s an honor to share a little bit more about my story with you today. I’m one of four kids. I have a younger sister, I had a younger sister. She was 45 years old and she died of cancer. I was very close to my sister. Really, she was my best friend. My sister was a beautiful person. She lived a very, very full life. She was kind of larger than life. She was probably the most determined person I’ve ever met, so she was a great inspiration for me that way. And this was her second about with cancer in five years. And it’s kind of interesting, I’m definitely not any sort of expert on grief. I’m not, I haven’t really lost anyone in my life up until she passed away. I still have a lot of emotion when I think of her. I don’t feel stuck, though, anymore. And I think that really what I would want to share with someone is definitely not a blueprint for grieving. I think everyone’s unique, but I do think that there are ways of not getting stuck in that place, if that makes sense. I can honestly say that even though I’m still sad, obviously, I think I’ve gotten to that place where I feel more blessed that I had the relationship I had with her. I mean, my faith was a big comfort to me, but I felt a lot of comfort unexpectedly. I had so much kindness from unexpected places that, I don’t know, like connected me to other people in a way that was really meaningful. So I feel really grateful for that. I feel like God wants to lead you to those connections, which is Him on earth kind of ministering to you. And I think when you have an expectation, sometimes we jump ahead, like, okay, what’s fair is, like, we all get 90 years and we all do this and we all do that. And you have to be willing, I think, to embrace some mystery in that I don’t get to know even for people who I love very deeply. And I do choose to believe at some point, like, God is good. I have a history with God. They had a history with God and I’m going to choose to trust. And so that was something too that helped me move beyond sort of a stuck place. I really feel like the story of Lazarus ministered to me. You can feel like God is not there. And Martha, like, the first thing she says to Jesus is, if you were here, my brother wouldn’t have died. And I think that’s something that you really struggle with as a person of faith is, if God was here. I don’t feel that He’s here. You know, Martha, Mary, they knew Jesus. They walked with Jesus and yet they felt like, this didn’t help me, my greatest hour of need. And He knew He was going to raise him from the dead. And yet when He saw them weeping, He cried. I mean, that’s the shortest verse in the Bible is, Jesus wept. And that really ministered to me. Because I was like, you know, you don’t always feel it. You don’t always feel comforted in the moment. But when I read that story and I read my sister’s journals and I could go over my own life with the Lord–I journal as well–so I could go back and remember these are the places God is there for me. I think people fear their own feelings. I think it’s just healing. It’s healing to cry. It’s also healing sometimes to be, like, I don’t need to cry. I’m going to go out and do something that ministers to me, whether it’s I play golf or I go take a nature walk and I’m happy. And have joy and know that your loved one would want you to be happy. And I think too that can be kind of a stuck place and feeling like if I’m not depressed all the time, I’m forgetting them or I’m not honoring them, or I should, you know, whatever. And in grieving it wasn’t, I’m not going to be sad, but I knew that she always would have wanted me to live my life and not just survive, grieving her, if that makes sense. I think something else that really took me by surprise is that you can feel intensely sad and peace at the same time. And that was weird to me because I thought, you know, I’m going to be despairing that my sister’s gone or I’m going to be at peace. When actually I could be grieving her and be at peace. So that was something that has been a new sort of line to walk for me. That’s been a blessing because it’s just part of life. I mean, you’re always going to have loss of some kind. I think hope’s a big thing because hope connects you to the future. And God is the God of all hope. So if I’m connected to God, I’m connected to the future, and I’m expectant of good, you know. Doesn’t mean I’m not going to be sad too, but I’m just expecting that there’s good.

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