.- Author Dawn Marie Roeder’s two-year-old son died under tragic circumstances, but she credits her Catholic faith for helping her survive, grieve and forgive.
She now wants others to know that God’s heart is “so big ... beyond our understanding.”
“I just really hope to touch individuals who may be on the brink of losing hope or faith, to know they’re not alone. God loves them,” Roeder told CNA July 12.
“I wouldn’t have been able to survive without faith,” she said. “It’s critical, and it’s a cornerstone of my healing.”
Roeder’s 2011 book “It Doesn’t End Here,” published by Lanciano Media, tells her story.
In the year 2000, an adverse reaction to a prescription drug caused Roeder to crash her car, killing her son and leaving her unconscious.
She then took part in a five-year legal action against the pharmaceutical company that made the drug, saying it did not give sufficient warning about the possible dangers of the drug. The action put Roeder under intense scrutiny from the company’s lawyers and thrust her into the public eye.
Roeder, who now lives in Phoenix, said she wrote the book because she learned that Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary “are with us even in our most difficult and trying times.”
“I never felt abandoned by them,” she said. “If anything, I turned to them. I ran to them.
“He who suffered on the cross knows more than anything what it is to suffer. Our Heavenly Father, of course, through the loss of his son, knows what it is to lose the most precious thing in his life.”
She said the role of her faith in the aftermath of her son’s death has been “enormous.”
“We’re vulnerable at that time when we suffer loss. We need to make great choices, especially in our physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual part of our being, to be balanced.”
“Faith helped me as a foundation of being able to keep those other aspects in balance and keep me strong,” she said.
Roeder also learned the importance of forgiveness, saying it is a gift from God.
“He gave it to us from the cross. What are we to hold against anyone or any institution if we ourselves are sinners? We’ve been given the greatest gift on the cross. And we are to share that, as his children.”
While forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean trusting a particular person or situation again, she said, “we have to forgive with our hearts, with our whole being.”
Roeder’s book tells her experience across several chapters divided by reflections on the Seven Sorrows of Mary. She said she did this to honor the Virgin Mary as her “role model” who helped her grieve.
She hopes the book’s sections on the Seven Sorrows will highlight the connection between “the suffering Our Lady had” and “the suffering of our everyday life.”
She also had advice for friends and family members of those who are grieving.
“Being with them in their presence is the greatest gift that you can give to someone,” she said. Having a cup of coffee or taking a walk with those who are grieving can help them through their grief.
Friends and family should tell the bereaved that they will see their loved ones again, she said.
“They live here, in our hearts,” she said. “Our eternal existence doesn’t end,” she added, repeating her book’s title “It Doesn’t End Here.”