This November my family will mark the fifth anniversary of Dad's death--and the fifth wedding anniversary for my sister Jane and her heaven-sent Jim. If you haven't been following me quite that long, it's a great story. Anyway, at Dad's wake (the morning of the wedding rehearsal), I noticed my seven-year-old niece sitting on the funeral parlor sofa, engrossed in a Harry Potter book. I felt frustrated that at a time when it is so fitting to speak of life after death, the meaning of life, the Body of Christ...there wasn't anything age appropriate for Claudia (who had lost her other grandfather a few months before).
A few months later, I was taking a 1 credit course to complete the requirements for the Certificate in Spiritual Formation at CTU. It was one of those situations where I would have taken anything they offered just to get that one last credit. As it turned out, the course was on bereavement ministry. And we had to do a project.
I turned in a sample "activity book" for a grieving child; something that would help a child process the experience of grief in the light of the Catholic faith. The professor liked the idea, so I submitted it to our publishing house. There my humble project took on dimensions far beyond what my 1-credit course equipped me for, so the editors entrusted its development to Kimberly Schuler, a school counselor, and to our own Sr. Mary Joseph Peterson (for the artwork). The result is a keepsake volume for children in primary or middle school; a kind of hybrid puzzle book, one-year journal and catechism.
So it looks as though my experience of loss has borne fruit for others in their time of loss. Isn't that how God tends to do things?