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If you could write a letter and heal a man two continents away, would you write the letter? If you could describe how a Priest stood by you as your child fought for their lives and offered you The Peace of Christ, with words, would you share them, in hopes of healing others? If you could offer encouragement to a Priest who ministered in Africa and was lonely and discouraged, and you lighten his load, would you write the letter? Submit online at www.letterstopriests.com

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

When I lost my two and a half year old son Nathaniel

Dear Father Bob and Father Will,

When I lost my two and a half year old son Nathaniel due to a set of uncontrollable circumstances, my faith and my life were shaken to its core. Losing Nathaniel went against every grain of fiber of my innate nature as a parent to protect and was an agony beyond anything I could ever have imagined.

I remember shortly after coming home from the hospital and having the arduous task of facing my son’s empty room. The void was undeniably tangible and louder than life. It was not long after this I ran to the Sacrament of Reconciliation saying to the available priest, Father Bob, “Father forgive me because I don’t think I believe in God any more.” This dear Priest’s words to me were a life line. “My dear child,” he said, “the fact that you are even questioning the existence of God is proof of your your belief in Him.”

His words gave me solace and the permission to seek and ask questions about my situation which included questions about my faith without feeling guilty that to ask these questions was something that was wrong. As any parent who has lost a child knows, the grieving process is not always a clear cut process. It can tumultuously affect the body, mind, emotions and spirit in varying ways and degrees.

One of the means in which I sought answers to the questions of my grief and trauma was through the reception of good counsel with a licensed professional trained in the area of grief and trauma while maintaining my involvement with my church. Then in time my heart, unbelievably so, began to heal and I wanted to give back to others the knowledge and love I received through my own struggle. Within me grew a desire to write a spiritual narrative of the grief process based on the Seven Sorrows of Mary and the Cross which I titled: It Doesn’t End Here: An Amazing Journey of Faith and Forgiveness.

I remember during the process of writing It Doesn’t End Here and getting ready to go to the printer that it was important to me that what I had written honored God and was not just a book that recalled a tragedy for tragedies sake. I believed that what I had written would be nurturing to one’s spirit but I needed confirmation from someone I respected. Then came Father Will.

Father Will was new to our church and I remember hearing his homilies and thinking to myself “where on earth did this priest come from?” His homilies spoke directly to my soul and moved me to love Jesus Christ and His church more deeply. I knew that I wanted him to read my work but I was frightened by the doggone fear "rejection." So I let myself be frightened and called the parish anyway to speak to him. After briefly explaining my story line to him, this busy priest said he would gladly read my manuscript. I'm not sure why but I was shocked by his graciousness probably because he humbly took this on amidst many obligations.

It was not an overnight process in which he read my script nor was I expecting it to be so, but halfway through it he said something that blessed and encouraged me to press forward. He said that he was deeply compassionate for what I had been through, but that he almost felt bad to say this that he was really enjoying what I had written. Clutching the phone I jumped from my chair and said, "Father, this is the most incredible compliment I could ever receive." Father continued reading my script and got back to me about a month later with enthusiasm for the project and a stamp of approval.

What a gift Father Will had given to me to entrust himself with my work because it was especially dear to my heart for my son’s and his mother’s sake. Still Father's graciousness did not end here. He said Yes, when I asked if he might write the Forward of It Doesn’t End Here. Thank you Father for journeying with me through part of this amazing process. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Sincerely grateful to the Priesthood!

Dawn Marie Roeder

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