Domestic Church: Finding the Divine Plan in Grief


by Katie Sciba

I lost my dad in the fall of 2013. After dodging more adventurous deaths in his youth, he met his match in cancer. He fought for two-and-a-half years before passing away the day our oldest started preschool. He was 60, much too young to die.

My dad’s illness, decline and passing of course took a toll on my mom. She wore herself to the bone wearing hats of caregiver, wife and mom to three adult children, not to mention her career in parish ministry. In the time after losing her husband, her voice seemed lifeless and her heart was heavy. My mom, who was typically quick-witted and up for anything, was bereaved and weary.

My world and faith came crashing down. I was furious with God for allowing my personal Superman to be defeated and for my mom to be left alone. I was 27 when my dad died, and I felt too young to lose a parent. I wanted him to be around to know my kids personally and be part of my adult life. I still ached for his approval and pride.

This wasn’t supposed to happen, according to me at least, and there was no sense to it that I could perceive. I couldn’t imagine how so much pain could be part of the divine plan, much less divine mercy.

Then my mom met someone – a good, true, holy man who in time vowed to love, honor and cherish her unto death. The spark returned to my mom’s voice; and, in the light of their new life together, any confusion that surrounded my dad’s death was lifted. I realized that just as it was the Lord’s will for my parents to marry, it was also His will for my step-dad’s life that he would marry my mom. It’s my step-dad who will be present in my adult life and who will be grandfather to my kids. The life my family gained through the addition of my dear stepfather brought meaning to the sorrow we experienced before; and not just that, but it opened my eyes to a much bigger picture.

In the middle of suffering any kind of loss, there’s little that makes sense. Grief brings on anger, confusion and sorrow strong enough to blind us to hope. It’s in new life, in change and in seeing a bigger plan, that our joy is made new.

Here we are, the beginning of May, and it is still the Easter season. Jesus’ intense suffering and crucifixion at the time seemed only unfair in the eyes of his followers, and rightly so. How could death be part of the divine plan? But it was from his death that Jesus rose, achieving a more glorious life for not only himself, but also making that same glory available to every soul.

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