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Coping with burden of grief


It’s not my intention to write a eulogy about Chinchin Tano’s life after he passed away on June 13 at the age of 10.

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Rather, I wish to share my own experience in my journey of faith, especially during Chinchin’s funeral two weeks later.

A few days after Easter, I received a text message from his mother Ingrid saying that Chinchin had only been given a few days to live. I immediately went to their house and as we gathered around Chinchin, I anointed him and blessed him, thinking maybe this would be the last time I would see him.

God surprised us all as he survived another seven weeks and celebrated his 10th birthday before God called him to be with Him in heaven.

Chinchin’s death may sound unfair and we ask why this innocent child had to go through suffering and pain and finally pass away. We all live and suffer with mysteries we cannot put into words, questions for which have no answer, and pain that too often knows no relief.


At times like these, when we are at a loss for words, I found the funeral Mass helped me. I was under the burden of so many conflicting emotions – maybe anger and surely sadness – but the funeral liturgy gave me words, gestures and symbols to express myself with and to teach us all the ways of God.

I felt and believed that it is for times like these that we are given the gifts of faith and hope: to give us strength to face life’s senseless tragedies and be able to live one day at a time under the burden of life’s cruelty.

While an overwhelming burden, we all, slowly, have to find ways of coping with the loss of Chinchin.

Although time passes quickly and some say time heals, we need to continue to be there for Chinchin’s parents in their sorrow, to hold their hand in their grief and to hold them while they cry.

At times like these, even when God seems light years out of reach, we still have a God who is willing to carry our burden.

We must not be afraid to reach out to Him, as we always do, for help and strength. Ingrid and Chinlou’s faith has been so edifying for me. They never lost hope in God, even when our prayers for Chinchin’s recovery didn’t happen.

Their hope and faith strengthened my faith that even in this loss, they taught me to always trust in God, whatever happens in my life.

God is meek and humble. God walks with us and bears our burdens in ways we can never know or understand. God will continue to surprise us and even overwhelm us with a sense of His presence and love.

We must hold on to the hope that, though things will never be all right, they will get better – like when the almighty God, in the midst of this heartbreak, gave Ingrid and Chinlou a wonderful gift in the birth of their daughter Illana.

She was a precious sister to Chinchin. Moreover, God will surely bring blessing out of Chinchin’s death, he will make us a blessing for others. Someday we will meet someone who has suffered a similar situation, and we will give tremendous comfort to that person.

We will know what they are experiencing, and we can have the right words for them and be the right presence for them. We will help them carry their burden of grief in a way that no one else can.

During the funeral, hard as it was to celebrate, I come to Christ weary with grief and burdened with sorrow like everyone else in church.

After the funeral, Jesus refreshed and gave us rest. Through faith, we know that Jesus is at work among us even though we can’t see it or measure it. Chinchin now sees and knows the mystery we are unable to find words for. And we, too, will someday know.

These burdens we carry will someday fall from our shoulders, and we will know for certain the everlasting life that Jesus died to win for us.

Holding onto that reality, no matter how far off it may seem, gives us the strength to carry on, one day at a time. As we continue to carry our burden of grief, may we continue to experience God’s comforting hand on our shoulder and know that He will continue to bear our burden, especially with Ingrid and Chinlou.

Fr Fred is parish priest of the Adelaide Hills parish. His article was first published in The Bridge.


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