By Daniel Franklin E. Pilario, CM

Now is the time to weep. But there is no such time. Our loss is so deep. And dying is so fast. But there is no time to grieve. The Gospel today [John 16: 16-20] talks about grieving for one’s loss. It is a preparation for Ascension when Jesus would leave his friends. They will grieve for his departure. They will miss him so like many of us do.

“A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me... Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”

That our mourning and grief will turn into joy is, however, not an automatic process. The sun does not shine right away after the storm. The storm can rage on and on. Dying bodies can be all around. The loss can be so deep. And it feels there is no light at the end of the tunnel. We are called to weep and to grieve.Grieving for some great loss – death of a loved one, loss of one’s health, loss of job or retirement, loss of a lovely relationship, loss of home, or death of one’s pet. These are crucial moments – disconcerting, earth shaking, disorienting. I can still remember my mother’s death and how our family felt the rug pulled under our feet. We were not able to move on for years. Let me mention three points that I feel as crucial in the grieving process.


There is no short cut to joy. For some, it might take months; for others years. The five stages in Kubler-Ross’ grieving process is well-known: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. For one to go through it, even if not in the same order, one needs time.This is the deepest pain in the COVID era. Time is denied to us. Things just happen too fast – from having the symptoms, to ICU admission, to dying alone, then to the crematorium. There are no wakes or eulogical services. This should have been the use of “wakes” – and in the Philippine culture – this takes a weeks or even months. The family tells and retells the life of the person every day to every visitor who comes. And in the process, buys time to grieve.

Second, ONE NEEDS TO CRY, to be shocked, to feel the loss.

During the funeral of my mother, I know I am going to break down during the Mass. So the day before, I walked up to our old house on the hill. In front of the wide sea which we both saw each day as we hold each other's hands when I was still a child, there, I cried and cried. I asked her to make me cry now otherwise, she will not be buried the next day. After crying, only then can I compose my homily. It is OK to cry! And it is OK to be seen crying. But on COVID times, people have little time to cry. Or, they cry alone. Painfully alone. There is little time to weep, and see your neighbors weep with you. Your neighbors do not even come, because they are afraid. You have also become a PUI or PUM.


We could not weep forever. We move on because we believe in hope. We move on because life needs to go on. We move on without forgetting our beloved. We carry him or her on to the new normal which is a life without him or her.When I think about this, I go back to the lives of the people under the bridge after the death of Kuya Long (a story which I wrote here some few weeks back). They needed that night to speak their hearts out. All of them cried as they told how his life touched them, women and men, under the moon light. Some were silent but I could feel they were crying inside. But after that night, life has to go for them. They needed to look for food in order to survive the lockdown. Some went scavenging again. Others off to begging. But they did not forget Kuya Long. Far from it. Every day, near the place where he slept under the bridge, they always light a candle. Kuya Long stays with them, but they have to take on life without him.

Why do we weep? Why do we need to grieve?

In Pope Francis’ audience with young people in Manila, a certain girl who had lived on the streets as scavenger, Glyzelle, was asked to share her life in front of the pope. In the end, she asked him: “Why did God let these things happen to us?” The pope set aside his written text. He talked to the girl from his heart. This is part of what he said:

“Certain realities in life we only see through the eyes that are cleansed through tears. Let us learn how to weep as she has shown us today.”

Daniel Franklin E. Pilario, C.M.
St Vincent SchoolofTheology - Adamson University