Grief is the price we pay for love

thought-for-sundayFrom the desk of Fr. Ignatius Waters, cp

Sunday, 12th November 2017




Jack Dominian was a psychiatrist and Catholic theologian and founder of One Plus One, an organisation dedicated to understanding relationship breakdown. His wife of fifty years died in July 2005 and he himself died in August 2014. When she died, he wrote about the terrible pain and sickness of grief. He says that, of course, there are no shortcuts in this process, but these are some of the things that helped him.  This is a summary of his words, in 8 quick points.


  1. From early in life we develop the ability to carry inside us the memory/presence of the loved one, even when they are absent, usually starting with our mother. This is true, and I find the memory of my wife, supported by pictures of her, very comforting.
  2. Of course, these memories, while comforting, also fill me with the awful sense of loss. And kind people asking, “How do you feel?” brings all the pain back to the surface.
  3. At the heart of spiritual grief is the fact that none of us knows what constitutes the reality of the souls of the dead. This is a very painful mystery because being human, we want to see and touch.
  4. I believe she goes on, she lives on in some way and I greet her at all times of the day without one iota of doubt that we are connected. Of course, atheists will say this is sheer imagination or wishful thinking.
  5. But, even without the support of my faith, on pure human grounds, I feel the person I knew and experienced for fifty years cannot simply disappear. There is a form of human certainty in survival, which sustains me.
  6. Christianity teaches, and I believe in, the final resurrection of all of us. I believe this but, to be honest, for us human beings with our need for immediacy, this belief is of little comfort.
  7. Of even greater comfort to me is the mass. At the elevation of the consecrated host, I acknowledge every time the presence of the living Christ and my wife by his side. As a psychiatrist, I do not indulge in hallucinations, I do not pretend to see her, but my faith confirms without a shadow of a doubt that at the moment of the elevation, I am especially close to her.
  8. But grief is grief and everyone’s grief is different but for me there is the mixture of certainty and mystery accompanied by terrible loss. But I wait with the certain expectation of the surprise that faith has in store for me, indeed for all of us.


These are some of the things that helped Jack Dominian but, since everyone’s grief is different, they may or may not help you