In this short Life that only lasts an hour

How much – how little – is within our power

Emily Dickenson

Psychology Today article “Grieving the Death of an Adult Child” struck a familiar chord in me. I am mourning the death of my oldest son who died at age 50. My son was estranged from us for many years but never absent from my loving prayers. My family tried in many ways to find him but never succeeded. We received notification of his death from our local police department on a fateful Wednesday night. Learning from the officers that he was found unresponsive in his apartment was a shock. Everything about that night is etched sharply in my mind.

It is now nearly 2 months after his death. Most paper-work related to his death is completed, we received his papers, remains and the death certificates. The Remembrance service was last week. Creating the service program for our family, was a labor of love. Family from out of state came to offer us support. Having my son’s step brothers here with us filled me with a sense of gratitude. A week later, I find myself at a loss. Nothing left to do, no more preparations. My work is done but the sadness is ever-present. I never got to say, “Good by”, and “I love you” to my son. It is difficult to share about my son’s death. As a hospice chaplain, I have been at the bedside of many dear patients during their last hours in this physical existence. I officiated at funerals for the very old and for younger people and counseled families during their bereavement, yet in no way have these experiences lessened my own grief. I am not surprised by the shock I felt receiving the medical examiner’s report that my son died in a diabetic coma. Like many people whose loved one died in unusual circumstances I am embarrassed, an unexplainable shame comes over me, and I feel edgy talking about my son’s death. Most of the time I avoid talking about my son’s death. Although these are typical responses to the unexpected and unusual circumstances of the death of a loved one; now I recognize them in myself.

Several years ago, I became a widow back then and now, my younger son, daughter and her husband are my immediate sources of solace and comfort; together we have been initiated into the great mystery of birth and death. That someone we loved is now gone but lives in in our hearts. The greatest gifts in life are loving and being loved in return. I recommend to all who are coping with the death of a loved one, Love Knows No Death, a powerful and innovative Grief Transformation Self- help Workbook and Visual Program developed by Dr. Piero Calvi-developed by Dr. Piero Calvi-Parisetti.

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Gabriella was born in Budapest Hungary. Some of her family still resides in Hungary. After escaping the Communist regime in the aftermath of the 1956 Revolution, Gabriella's family settled in Cleveland OH. She graduated from Cleveland Heights High School and attended college but did not earn a degree. She met her husband in Devon PA, and soon they were married and began family life in PA. Only a few years married, John and Gabriella moved to FL to be with Gabriella's aging parents. Two o their three children were born Florida. After the children began school, Gabriella volunteered in schools and libraries. Her love for swimming drew her into the world of aquatics. Part time coaching jobs evolved into career aquatic management. Her children out of the home, Gabriella worked full time as an aquatic manger, coach and swim instructor. In 2001, John and Gabriella's plans to ease into retirement in Tucson changed drastically when John suffered a heart attack in 2002. John’s amazing recovery after bypass surgery allowed Gabriella to seek a new career. It was a life changing experience for both of them. Gabriella returned to school at the University of AZ and John took over household responsibilities. A shift occurred in their lives. Gabriella felt called to become a spiritual care provider. Preparing for seminary, she chose interdisciplinary program, combining Psychology, Family and Religious Studies. She graduated with honors in 2006. Gabriella and John moved to Berkeley for her to begin seminary at the Pacific School of Religion. Gabriella was accepted on the ordination track in the Swedenborgian Church of North America. Her goal was to becoming a chaplain. John's health crisis necessitated a move from Berkeley back to Tucson in 2008. Gabriella transferred to Earlham School of Religion to complete the Master’s program. In her senior year, working in required Supervised Ministry, Gabriella created a dual ministry; Circle Community, a sharing, praying and studying support group and worked as a crisis advocate in Tucson area hospitals. Most of her family was present in Cincinnati OH when Gabriella was ordained in July 2012. In July of 2011 she was ordained in the Swedeborgian Church and accepted a call to be the pastor of the New Church of Southwest FL. Soon after her ordination Gabriella accepted a call to become the pastor to the New Church of Southwest FL in 2011. John, a VA patient needed comprehensive medical care unavailable in Fort Myers. For Gabriella ministry begins at home. Once again new a health crisis changed their life. They moved back to Tucson AZ. Back in Tucson, Gabriella found ministry opportunities with Circle Community, did workshops and conducted weekly Prayer Meditations at Rincon U.C.C. She completed a course in Spiritual Direction at the Hesychia School for Spiritual Direction. In mid October 2012, Gabriella began to work as a Chaplain for Harmony Hospice. The job all she had expected. She found great satisfaction working with patients and their families. Gabriella left the per diem position with Harmony for a full time job with Valor HospiceCare. Here too, she worked with grieving families, conducted grief support groups and lead Community Memorial services during the same time that her husband's health was spiraling downwards. Gabriella resigned her job to care for John in the last months of his life. John died in April 2014. Life became chaotic. An intense search a chaplain position in Tucson and other parts of the country was unsuccessful. Peers suggested Gabriella look into open churches with the Swedenborgian Church. She candidated in Kansas with two churches. She was called to pastor the Pretty Prairie and Pawnee Rock churches in July 2014. A new life began with the move to rural Kansas. In August 2014, Gabriella began to serve as the Pastor of the two churches.

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