Pastor’s Corner for the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, by Fr. Bruce Botha SJ

And Now I am an Orphan…


My father, Anthony Joseph Botha, died on Wednesday morning at 6 am.  It was a blessed death, quick and without much suffering. He died 15 months after my mother’s death. After almost 55 years of marriage, he wanted to be reunited with her, and now he is. As I sat absorbing this news, I realised that I am now an orphan, an adult orphan not a child orphan, but in my grief, I feel a little like a child, whose roots to past and history have been severed by this death.


I did a bit of googling, as one does when one can’t sleep at 3 am, and here are three useful things I learnt, which might help someone else who is grieving:

  • Tell yourself your grief matters – don’t allow others to dismiss what’s happened because your parent ‘had a good innings’ or ‘went peacefully’. Your grief is still real, try not to fall into the trap of believing your feelings aren’t legitimate.
  • Consider all the losses – it’s not just about the death of your parent, there are multiple losses now – like the house where you grew up, the person who you’d call when things went wrong, the one who knew your likes and dislikes, the one who taught you how to drive a car, never missed a sports event that you played in, was your children’s babysitter… the connections are endless. If you add to that the caregiving role that you may have had for an aged parent, then now you will have no-one to visit, no more responsibilities, and while there can be relief when this happens, it’s still going to take some time for you to adapt.
  • Create continuing bonds – find ways to stay connected to them. Support their preferred charity, cook their favourite meal at family get-togethers, keep something of theirs that is special just to you, plant something from their garden at your house, bake a cake and celebrate their birthday and honour them on other significant days of the year.

I went and put my mom and dad’s dates of death into my calendar, repeat yearly, and next year on the 18th of July and 12 of October I will light a candle in front of their picture and remember them and pray for them and give God thanks for them.


Thank you to all of those who have sent messages of condolence and support. I and my family have been uplifted by your grace. You will be with me in spirit as we celebrate a memorial mass for her on Monday and inter his ashes with those of my mother.


Fr Bruce Botha SJ