REMEMBERING: In faith, we journeyed through this grief in our own pace and time

Ecc. 3: “There is a time for everything…a time to be born and a time to die…a time to weep and a time to laugh…a time to mourn and a time to dance…”

LEUVEN, Belgium (MindaNews / 04 July) — It will be eight years since my nephew Prince Allen Cang Diaz died from a powerful IED (improvised explosive device)  blast at about 8:40 a.m. on July 5, 2009, a Sunday, outside the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Cotabato City.

It seems as if the incident just happened less than five years ago. Grief is most intense when this day comes nearer. Now, miles away from Cotabato City and after eight years, I finally mustered the courage to view your burial pictures, Prince. Yes, in the past, I would only skim as fast as I could.

Since 2009, our family has walked through this process of grief in different ways. We witnessed how life evolved in various hues for Jun and Angie. We witnessed how Andre and Pia grew up strong and full of life through this experience. In faith, we journeyed through this grief in our own pace and time. It’s a circumstance that significantly brought together your Cang and Diaz families (with our extended families).

Prince, life after your death and burial has redefined our way of being and becoming. Personally, I chose to silently journey through it. I thank God for holding me close. On this aspect of my life’s journey, God has graced me with people and opportunities to help me make sense of the unspoken deep experience. God has gifted me with strength when I needed to be strong for others during the crucial days. And God has also sent friends to console me when I was most weak back in the mission.

Ministry with indigenous children and urban youth at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish allowed me to positively channel the pain while mourning. Theological studies, thereafter, helped me to understand much better my faith-related questions and pain. Healing gradually set-in during those three years. Finally, I was graced with strength to confront the physical space of your death Prince, as I was assigned in Cotabato City by 2013. Eucharist at the Cathedral was part of the unfolding process.

By July 2015, I had that chance to light a candle and place yellow chrysanthemum by the foot of the bell tower where they saw your body, Prince. With that act, I know that I have forgiven significantly the event that caused your death.

I will never fully understand the emergence of life amidst grief, the birth of healing from wounded-ness. Only Wisdom has full understanding of this paradoxical relationship that has strengthened me “to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with God” in the past eight years.

Thank you, dearest Lord, for holding me/us close. To understand what we only need to understand. And to love despite everything. (Frances Diaz is a graduate student in Theology at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium whose research focus is inter-religious dialogue and peace. She was born and raised in Cotabato City, Philippines and has dedicated her life work advocating for the poor and the marginalized in southern Mindanao She wrote this piece in Leuven on 2 July 2017)