If you’re grieving the loss of a loved one and you know that no one can take that person’s place, there are few words that can truly console you. Nevertheless, through God’s grace, the support of those who love you, and the passage of time, you will get through this period of sorrow. In the meantime, it may be of some consolation to know that many of the saints grieved like you. These saints, who knew God’s love in a wondrous way and who believed in eternal life with all their hearts, nevertheless had to struggle with their own human feelings of grief.
The Grief of Two Saintly Elisabeth’s
Consider our Lady. Mary suffered widowhood; we don’t know exactly when St. Joseph died, but, because of the perfect love they shared and because she knew the gates of Heaven weren’t yet open, it must have been a heart-wrenching experience for her. Some time after this, her Son left home to begin His public ministry.
Although no grief could compare with Mary’s, many other saints drank deeply from the cup of sorrow. For instance, the first American-born saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton, was very happily married for eleven years, but then her husband’s business failed, and he contracted tuberculosis and soon died; moreover, because Elizabeth converted to Catholicism (she had been raised an Episcopalian), her family and many of her friends rejected her. The saint was able to persevere by relying on the Lord’s strength and by trusting in Scripture’s promise: “God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength.”
Another saint who experienced intense grief as a young widow of twenty was St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a princess whose husband died while taking part in a Crusade; it’s said that on being informed of her husband’s death, the saint cried, “The world is dead to me, and all that was pleasant in it,” and then ran through the castle shrieking hysterically. Like her American counterpart, Elizabeth Ann Seton, the Hungarian princess found no support from her relatives; her husband’s family resented her spending money on the poor, and — according to legend — her brother-in-law forced her and her children to leave the castle in the dead of winter. She, too, found the strength to bear her cross in the love of Christ, although it was very difficult at first.
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