September 5, 1995. My father died.

On this date in 1995 my father died.

He and I weren’t very close, (“fathers and sons …”) generational and attitudinal differences separated us.

As a result, I didn’t really grieve over his death. I mean, I was saddened and did feel the loss, but I wasn’t ripped apart by his death like I was over my Mom’s 10 years later.

This relative lack of impact was aided by the fact that I was 2,500 miles away and hadn’t seen him in 4 years.

I went home for his funeral, and reconnected with the family, but when I returned home to California I continued life as usual. I had started drinking heavily to cope with life’s problems a year before (failed romance) and my drinking picked up a little more upon my return, so that may have softened the need to grieve in a sober manner.

The point of this is that although I wasn’t too close to Dad during his life, I am much closer to him now. That would seem strange to non-Catholics, but for believers with a knowledge of the Communion of Saints, that shouldn’t seem strange at all.

Death doesn’t end a life. Death is just a passage from this life to another. This life is temporary, everything “is”, and then passes away to dust and a dim memory. The life after is eternal. Whether that life is spent in Heaven or Hell depends on what you do in your Earthly life.

There is a connection between those of us still here on Earth and those deceased. It is called, as I referenced in a previous paragraph, the Communion of Saints . (Via New Advent.) This is comprised of the “Church Militant” (those still on Earth), the “Church Suffering” (those in Purgatory) and the “Church Triumphant” (those in Heaven). Only the souls that have damned themselves to Hell are excluded.

“Communion” implies a community, wherein the members still can relate to one another. This relation is conducted by the means of prayer. We pray to the Church Triumphant and the Church Suffering for their intercessory power with God. We can somehow sense their presence (although admittedly that “sensing” may be wishful thinking).

They are there to help, comfort and console us. We are separated from them by the chasm of death, but that chasm can be crossed eventually by our own deathly passage.

I said earlier in this post that I am much closer to Dad now than while he was alive. I have grown to be much like him, at least with regard to the practice of my Catholic Faith. (I still haven’t taken up woodworking as a hobby, nor returned to fishing as a pastime, but may in time. I do enjoy yardwork, like he did, and love baseball, too.) I understand him better as the years progress and as I grow older.

To anyone who has lost a parent (or anyone beloved) to death, fear not. They are not gone from you permanently. Consider them as just having moved far away, and the distance you need to travel to meet with them again will take the rest of your life.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"


  1. I had a very numb experience w/death of my father. We were estranged and yet bonded in a weird way with this disease of alcoholism. Either my faith is all wrong, or my dad went to hell. I know "we" say that one never knows, but my father was a Catholic who renounced his faith and never went back. He left his family for another woman- never made amends, never offered apologies. I know I can't even know what's in another's heart, but when one never resolves his mortal sin, what else is there but hell. So (hopefully for me) there will be no future life. There is no communion of anything residing here- am I wrong?

  2. Mindy: There is hope. Despite what you said and all the actions your father had taken, there is still hope. God lives in Eternity, and the deceased enter into Eternity upon death. Death, then Judgement before God, then either Heaven or Hell. Pray for your father's soul. Since upon death he entered Eternity, it doesn't matter how long after he died that we pray for him. Our prayers for his soul can still work, and through some means known only to God at the moment of death God can reach out to him and touch him. If your father responds in a manner in keeping with some of his life decisions, he may be saved. He couldn't have been totally evil, I mean. If there was charity working in him at times it might be enough to work in his favor and enable him to reach out to God at his death.All this is one huge reason I am happy the Church developed the doctrine of Purgatory from Scripture. Perhaps you can start a devotion to the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Your father might be there.

Comments are closed.