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May 24, 2024 344 Mary Therese Emmons, USA
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Beyond the Grave

My husband was given a death sentence; I did not want to live on without him, but his firm convictions surprised me.

Five years ago, my world came crashing down when my husband was diagnosed with a terminal disease. The life and the future I envisioned were forever changed in an instant. It was terrifying and confusing; the most hopeless and helpless I’ve ever felt. It was as though I had been plunged into an abyss of constant fear and despair. I had only my faith to cling onto as I faced the darkest days I’ve ever known. Days of caring for my dying husband and days of preparing to face a life completely different than what I had planned.

Chris and I had been together since we were teenagers. We were best friends and nearly inseparable. We had been married for over twenty years and were happily raising our four children in what seemed like an idyllic life. Now he was given a death sentence, and I didn’t know how I could live without him. In truth, part of me didn’t want to. One day, in a moment of brokenness, I confided in him that I thought I might die of a broken heart if I had to live without him. His reaction was not as desperate. He sternly but empathetically told me that I had to keep living until God called me home; that I couldn’t wish or waste my life away because his was coming to an end. He confidently assured me that he would be watching over me and our children from the other side of the veil.

The Other Side of Grief

Chris had an unshakeable faith in God’s love and mercy. Convinced that we wouldn’t be separated forever, he would often recite the phrase: “It’s just for a little while.” This was our constant reminder that no heartache lasts forever—and these words gave me boundless hope. Hope that God will guide us through this, and hope that I will be reunited with Chris in the next life. During these dark days, we clung to Our Lady in the Rosary—a devotion we were already familiar with. The Sorrowful Mysteries were recited more often than not because contemplating the suffering and death of Our Lord brought us closer to Him in our own suffering. The Divine Mercy Chaplet was a new devotion that we added to our daily routine. Like the Rosary, this was a humbling reminder of what Jesus willingly endured for our salvation, and somehow it made the cross we had been given seem less heavy.

We began to more clearly see the beauty in suffering and sacrifice. I would mentally repeat the small prayer: “Oh, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in You” every hour of the day. It would bring a wave of calm over me whenever I felt a rush of uncertainty or fear. During this time, our prayer life deepened tremendously and gave us hope that Our Lord would be merciful to Chris and our family as we endured this painful journey. Today, it gives me hope that Chris is at peace, watching over and interceding for us from the other side—just as he promised.

In these uncertain days of my new life, it’s hope that keeps me going and gives me strength. It has given me immeasurable gratitude for God’s endless love and tender mercy. Hope is a tremendous gift; an inextinguishable interior glow to focus on when we feel broken. Hope calms, hope strengthens, and hope heals. Hope takes courage to hold onto.

As Saint John Paul II said: “I plead with you! Never, ever give up on hope. Never doubt, never tire and never become discouraged. Be not afraid.”

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Mary Therese Emmons

Mary Therese Emmons is a busy mother of four teenagers. She has spent more than 25 years as a catechist at her local parish, teaching the Catholic faith to young children. She lives with her family in Montana, USA.

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