For Family and Friends
“Mom, dad, I’m coming home.”
The flood of emotions come. This is the phone call you never expected. Is she ok? Did something happen? I can’t believe she’ll be home for dinner, she’ll be in her bed again. I never thought I’d have her back.
The adjustment for you having your daughter, sister or friend “back” after some expanse of time might seem unbelievable at first. You might be elated and try to pick up where you left off. Or expect the same buoyant personality to come bounding through the house or accompany you to your once favorite hangout spots. Though, upon her return, you might notice that she’s, well, different. Perhaps she can’t talk about what transpired regarding the events that surrounded her and the community’s decision for her to leave. Perhaps she wants space and quiet, and that is communicated effectively, or more likely not effectively. Perhaps she’s not eating or sleeping more than you remember and you begin to wonder, how long will this last?
As unique as every woman’s vocational discernment path is to enter religious life, so it is for leaving. The reasons span a vast range from those who are sure they are called to the vocation of marriage, to those who were asked to leave by the community, those who discern to enter a different religious community, those who have health needs that are not able to be supported by the community’s way of life to those that just don’t have peace with moving forward and discern, carefully, to exit community.
Regardless of the “why,” every woman goes through some degree of the grief process. The change of her life course, the loss of her identity within the community and as a religious sister and the transition out of her well formed daily schedule are real losses.
So, what can you as a parent, sibling or friend do to help her in this time of transition?