When I lived with my maternal grandmother for part of my freshman year of college, each morning we walked a few blocks together before I went one way to catch the El to school and she went the other to church. She attended daily Mass as much as possible. I thought it was strange that people needed that much Mass time. Instead, I went with her only on Sundays.
But I have come to appreciate daily Mass. To me, it’s no different than having a support group for suicide loss survivors available to you daily rather than once or twice a month. Some days we need a little extra support.
For me, it’s about taking thirty minutes of my time (early enough in the morning to not keep me from starting work late) to reflect on either something I need or something I grateful for. I try not to let the needy days run over the grateful days; the more grateful we are, the more abundance we will find (and the happier we will be).
I love the silence of the church during daily Mass. There are no crying children and, because there are so few people, you don’t hear the shuffling of feet. Mostly you just hear an occasional cough, or the creaking of the wood floors when someone shifts his or her body. The sound of the floors always will be synonymous with this church to me since it’s the church I grew up attending.
As I continue to work on learning to let go of what I can’t control, my goal is to take the time in church to think about whatever it is that I’m struggling with on that particular day and then leave it at the church when I exit the doors. It’s not an easy task for me. Some days I find I lose my focus because I get caught up in rumination about something. My hope is that by going to church, I can keep this from happening.
I haven’t mastered it yet nor do I feel any huge change. It's possible that it will take weeks (or even months) of work before I feel a change. Like last spring when I set out to lose a few pounds as my body inched toward forty. I changed my eating habits and added an evening walk to my exercise routine. I honestly forgot all about trying to lose weight, and then one day looked down and saw that my stomach had shrunk.
If we take the time to be better people and grow as human beings, no matter how old we are, the rewards will be huge. We’ll see where my daily meditation leads me.
Michelle Linn-Gust, Ph.D., is an international author and speaker about finding hope after loss and change. She is the author of several books including Rocky Roads: The Journeys of Families through Suicide Grief and Ginger's Gift: Hope and Healing Through Dog Companionship. Her first book, based on the suicide of her younger sister Denise, Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Si..., inspired siblings around the world in their survival after a loved one’s suicide. She is the President of the American Association of Suicidology and lives in Albuquerque, N.M. Read more about Michelle at www.michellelinngust.com.