“Ask a Priest: How Can I Trust God After My Mom’s Death?”

Q: When I was 12 years old I saw my mother take her last breath and die from cancer. That was 10 years ago. At that time I had been an altar server for three years at my parish and I continued to serve. But as time passed by I started to feel like God betrayed me and didn’t love me. Every time I served I felt anger, because here I am serving someone who took my mother away. So, after serving for six years I left because that sense of betrayal was hard for me to cope with and it still is. I’m afraid to get close to my faith again because I’m afraid to get hurt once more. When I pray, I do it because I’m afraid of God. I’m afraid of what he can do in my life if I don’t pray. I’m sacred of him and his power. I hope you can give me some advice. Thank you and God bless you. – A.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: My heart goes out to you. I am sorry to hear that you lost your mom at such a young age.

Hard as it was to lose her, you mustn’t think that God somehow betrayed you. God loves you and your mom. And while it might be difficult to grasp, God loves your mom even more than you do.

It was not part of his original plan for suffering and death to be present in the world. Those came because of the sin of our first parents.

There are three sure signs of God’s love for you.

First, he created you. Your very existence depends on him. He sustains you out of love.

Second, he created your mom and gave her as a gift to you.

Third, he sent his only Son to suffer and die on a cross for your redemption and your mom’s redemption — and for the redemption of all of us.

Now, there is no doubt that one of the great mysteries is why God allows pain and suffering and evil in the world.

Here we can recall that the suffering of Jesus brought something good — redemption. Likewise, our own suffering can be united with his for the sake of souls.

God can also bring something good out of suffering. Perhaps beneath your sorrow and fear is a desire to want to be close to God. You aren’t indifferent to him, which could be a lot worse. And it is significant that in the closing of your e-mail, you wrote, “… and God bless you.” You might already have a sense that he is really is a good God, a loving God.

Sometimes it is the people we are closer to who can baffle us and seem mysterious at times. It is the same with God. Even the psalmists complained to him – and that was recorded in Sacred Scripture.

Perhaps the passing of your mom has kept you asking the deep questions of life. Perhaps this has helped you avoid a lot of the frivolity that seems to grip many of your contemporaries.

Perhaps the passing of your mom has kept you asking the deep questions of life. Perhaps this has helped you avoid a lot of the frivolity that seems to grip many of your contemporaries.

Regardless of the good that God will bring out of that painful loss, you might want to try thanking him for all the good that you received from your mother and for the years that you did have her, rather than being angry at the Lord for her death.

Death comes for us all. Suffering comes for us all. But those hardships don’t have to negate the many gifts and good things that God sends us in our lives. We have the freedom to think of those and let them shore up hope and gratitude in our souls.

In the recent past there was someone else who lost his mom at a young age — he was only about 8 years old at the time of her death. He later lost his brother during an epidemic and at age 20 he lost his dad. With faith and confidence in God this young man went on to become a priest. Today the world remembers him as Pope St. John Paul II.

Certainly, the ways of God are mysterious. But be sure that he loves you and wants you close to him.

Perhaps this is a moment to draw close to the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is your Mother, too, and she wants nothing more than for you to be close to her Son, Jesus. Perhaps Mary might be a little easier for you to draw close to. John Paul II found great comfort in his devotion to Our Lady.

It might be good for you to cultivate your devotion to her. Ask her to help you trust God and to see his plan for your life. You can be sure that Our Lady would love for you to be reunited with your own mom someday. (You might find helpful our Retreat Guide “God Is Faithful.“)

I hope some of this helps. Count on my prayers.

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