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Kimberly Andrich shares about her special relationship with her deceased grandma and what she learned about honoring our loved ones.

This month marks 30 years since my grandma passed away. Her death was sudden and completely unexpected. She and my grandpa had been visiting my family and would be taking care of us kids, beginning the next day, while my parents went on vacation.  
I remember that evening, after a wonderful day all together and as I went upstairs to bed, looking back at my parents and grandparents, sitting together on the living room couch, talking and laughing, with the sense that nothing would ever be the same. Despite climbing into bed feeling unsettled, I quickly snuggled up to my giant stuffed dog—a gift years before from my grandparents—and drifted off to a deep sleep.  
My mom woke me just an hour or two later, saying that my grandma was not talking. She seemed frantic, but in my sleepy state I could not understand why. My parents called our priest, who gave her Last Rites and went with them to the hospital. I lay in my room, uncertain as to what was happening but sleepy enough to be generally unconcerned. I was able to fall asleep again once they left. By morning, when I awoke, she was gone.  
My grandma had been a special, faith-filled woman. She had understood me in a way that no one else did and loved me in a way that I did not understand and unfortunately did not fully appreciate at the time. 
She was a gift to me both in life and in death.  



Her death came at the beginning of a very difficult time in my life, a time when I felt particularly unwelcomed and unappreciated, especially by my peers. I suppose one could say that I had needed my grandma then more than at any other time in my life.  
However, somehow, I felt my grandma’s presence even more after her death than I did in life. I felt assured of her love for me and her desire that I love the Lord in a very special way. To me, she had never really left but was watching over me, especially during those four difficult years. 
Her death at that time also provided reason for me to question my own inherited faith. Did I believe what my parents and teachers had taught me? Did I believe in God and in life after death? Did I believe that Jesus was there with me now? Praise be to God, the answer was a resounding yes, and that prompted me to embrace the faith more and more during a time when I felt increasingly unsure of myself. 



I have felt since then that living my faith honors my grandma’s memory and her legacy in my life. I have asked her help and intercession many times, and sometimes when I go to God with a concern or problem, I do so with her in mind. 
It is important to remember and honor those who have gone before us, especially those who have influenced our faith or taught us how to live and walk in God. Parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings, and special friends are honored this month. We also honor special saint friends—our big brothers and sisters in the faith—who have inspired or interceded for us. For many of us, it is because of these special souls that our faith is what it is.  


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The best way to honor our loved ones, this month and always, is to continue our march toward God, traveling spiritually alongside them.


The connection we have with our loved ones does not end with death. We are, together, the body of Christ: the Church Militant, which is us here on earth; the Church Suffering, those souls in Purgatory making their way to God; and the Church Triumphant, our brothers and sisters with God in Heaven. We continue to be united with each other, in Him. Our connection is only hidden, not broken or severed.  
The entirety of the faithful is marching toward Christ until we rest in His bosom and sing His praises with the angels. Our loved ones and we are continuing to march onward together, even as we are separated by the same thin veil that separates us from God. 

All [the faithful] in various ways and degrees are in communion in the same charity of God and neighbor and all sing the same hymn of glory to our God. For all who are in Christ, having His Spirit, form one Church and cleave together in Him. Therefore the union of the wayfarers with the brethren who have gone to sleep in the peace of Christ is not in the least weakened or interrupted, but on the contrary, according to the perpetual faith of the Church, is strengthened by communication of spiritual goods. (Lumen Gentium, 49)


The best way, therefore, to honor our loved ones, this month and always, is to continue our march toward God, traveling spiritually alongside them. We continue to pray for each other—we can ask their intercession and offer prayers and sacrifices for them as well—until we one day stand arm in arm praising our God. 




Copyright 2023 Kimberly Andrich
Images: Canva