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The Weekly Word: We all deal with loss

By Fr. Tom Heathershaw, Pastor, Immaculate Conception Parish, Charles City; St. Michael, Nashua

We all experience the death of a loved one in our life, whether that of a family member or friend. But we deal with death at different points in our life.

For me, I first dealt with the death of a loved one at the age of 31 when my grandmother, Betty Heathershaw, passed away in January of 2021.

The Weekly Word: We all deal with loss
Fr. Tom Heathershaw

It was the first time in my life I experienced a deep sense of grief, sadness and loss. My body was overcome with emotion that I felt like I could not control: crying uncontrollably and loud wailing.

I experienced the death of my other grandmother, Mary Beth Koch, this past month. I was very close to her throughout my entire life. She lived in Waterloo and was always present in my life, whether for the major milestones or just stopping by at her house for a visit.

My grandmother was a devout Catholic her entire life, loved Jesus, and had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. She supported my vocation to the priesthood through prayer, love, encouragement, and the many friendships she had with priests throughout her entire life.

Grandma Koch had a particular devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. Our Lady of Fatima brought a message of conversion: turn away from sin through prayer and following Jesus.

In May of 2017, my grandmother organized a special prayer service for the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Fatima. As part of this, I remember her handing out, literally, hundreds of rosaries honoring the event to help others pray the rosary. She was so excited to honor our Blessed Mother.

Grandma Koch’s health started to decline rather quickly in the beginning of May. I went home on Mother’s Day to see her and I found her to be unresponsive in bed.

It was shocking to see her this way, someone who was always so full of life and energy. We had expected her to pass away in the next day or two, but you truly never do know.

I had gone home and back to Charles City several times the following week to see her. On Friday, I was present when my grandmother took her last breath at about 12:40 p.m. on May 13, which is the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima.

I shed some tears and was sad, but found great comfort in knowing that she was in heaven with Jesus. Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of my grandmother and the gift of your Catholic Church.

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