Dear Father:I am a widow who misses my sweet, kind, gentle husband very much. I know we are supposed to have faith that he is in heaven, how could he not be? He suffered for years from Parkinson’s disease and never once complained. Though I cared for him at home I had stepped out of the room and feel bad that I was not with him when he passed. Do you have any words of comfort for me that he is truly with the Lord? Not like he can call me up and say I am in heaven and fine. Thank you.Terry

Dear Terry:
I am sorry to hear of your loss.  I can only imagine the pain you must be experiencing, especially now as we approach the Holiday season with Thanksgiving just finished up and the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations beginning. 
Throughout my almost 10 years as a priest, if there was one thing I wished I was able to do would be to respond to your question in the perfect way.  That I would have a word that would magically and instantly inspire complete confidence in your husband’s being in God’s eternal embrace.  But I don’t.
All I can do is share my own faith experience.  Like most people, I’ve lost several relatives and friends over the years.  Whether it was after a long illnesses, like my grandmother who died after being so ill for so long that she needed the assistance of a nursing home to care for her – or whether it was a death that came quite suddenly, like my 46 year old uncle who died after a massive heart attack at work  – anytime someone we love has died, there’s always pain, there’s always doubts and there’s always concern for our loved ones.
While I don’t think I could have the words of comfort you are looking for, I know in my life, the words of scripture have been a great help.  But perhaps not in the way we are looking for that to happen.   For example, I could list several scripture passages that I find meaningful or helpful – but that’s because they’ve spoken to me in that manner.
I would encourage you in your own prayer to bring your hurt, to bring your pain, to bring your loss to the Lord and ask Him for the word of comfort that you are longing for.  From my own experience, it was in my open and honest prayer to God that I often received an unexpected word that really healed a deep hurt in my own heart.  One time it was simply seeing the words “John 3:16″ and upon looking it up and being moved to tears that at that moment I was ready to hear that God loved me.
I hope and pray that the words of Deuteronomy will ring true in your own life Terry “…seek the LORD, your God; and you shall indeed find him when you search after him with your whole heart and your whole soul. (Deut. 4:29)”
In Christ’s Peace,
Fr. Jim