In February 2021 my godmother passed away, leaving me with an overwhelming sense of grief and loss. I had lost family members before, but never one quite as close to me. My godmother was the reason I survived my birth, my role model, and one of my biggest supporters. Her love carried me through my childhood and helped me grow because it was unconditional. Losing her has been one of the most painful things I have ever had to experience. When she first passed, it was difficult to picture a world without her and thinking of a life without her presence felt so painful. I didn’t know where to go from there. And at times, months later I still feel overwhelmed with grief and guilt. I felt guilty that I didn’t do enough to appreciate her when she was alive. I felt hopeless.
A number of things helped me process the grief I was feeling. I reached out to mentors, such as Karl Nass, and talked with them about my godmother. It was nice to lean on others for support and to feel like I had community to help me ease the pain. My friends also helped a lot; they wrote me cards, and my dear friend Gabby drew me a picture of my godmother. One of the things I found most helpful in processing my grief was very unexpected. Not too long after my loss, I attended a meeting in which there was a presentation on Saint Louise de Marillac. The presenters talked about the grief and loss she experienced.
Louise’s story helped me answer the big question that lingered with me: “Where do I go from here?” Not only was I experiencing loss when I encountered Louise’s story, but I was (and still am) dealing with some difficult mental health issues. Louise’s story gives me hope that these difficult moments will one day lead me to where I am supposed to be, or my lumière moment as Louise experienced. I learned from Louise that moments of grief, loss, and pain don’t last forever. I hold this with me now as I struggle to manage my depression. There are days in which I can’t seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel. When I feel this way, I remember everything Louise went through and how she persevered. Louise leaned on others for support, such as her counsellor Francis de Sales, in order to deal with the grief of losing her husband. She dealt with her depression by seeking support from others, and this is something I believe we can all learn from. There are times where we need others to navigate the difficulties of life, and there is power in doing so, as we hear in Louise’s story.
Some of the greatest people, such as Louise, are not the people who seem to have it all together. They are people who are vulnerable and open about their difficulties, because we all encounter difficulties in our lives. Louise’s vulnerability teaches us the power of sharing our story with others. Because Louise’s story has brought me hope and company in a time that feels dark and lonely, I am grateful that it is documented through her writing and that we can all learn from her resilience.
Written by: Gisselle Cervantes, DePaul Class of 2021