Where is God in Grief?

By Christine Sandor

Crisis of most any kind brings our spirituality to the forefront of our world. The death and loss of a loved one is a traumatic time and one during which we often turn to our spirituality for support. Witnessing or experiencing the passing of one we love, is a harsh reminder of our own mortality and can easily induce questions about our own life worth. Our spiritual beliefs provide a meaning, if you will, to the dying process and death itself. It is through these beliefs that comfort is often found.

The term “spirituality,” does not necessarily refer to the religion with which you identify. Though certainly spirituality and religion are often viewed as one and the same, they are just as often seen as complete opposites. There is a broader meaning. Spirituality for many consist of relationships, meanings that are given to life and death, and our passion, commitments, and connections. For some, religion is where they go to church or temple, whereas spirituality is found in nature, meditation, or a personal relationship with a named or unnamed higher power. It not necessarily a creed-it is a way of being.

Understanding how we make sense of life helps us tremendously in how we make sense of death. There is a connection between the places in which we have found meaning in our world and what we perceive to be the meaning of the end of life as we know it. Those places and situations can change throughout our lives, as well. What you knew and believed as a child may not be what you adhere to now. It is helpful to look at how you have progressed and changed on your own spiritual journey.

The death of a loved one suddenly reminds us of our own mortality. It is a time at which we seem to automatically consider what really happens after death. We find ourselves thinking about what really does happen when the body ceases to function. Our spiritual understanding is the only resource we have at this time, as we often have no personal experience to help us. Unless you are among those who have had a near-death experience yourself, knowing whether there is an after-life and what it is like is based solely on what our religious background and current belief system have suggested.

Often it is our spiritual beliefs that decrease our anxiety and fears about death. Embracing your beliefs and spirituality can ease your worries.

Pray is an important piece of this process. If we think in terms of our thoughts being prayers to the Universe, we are always praying! There is, of course, absolutely nothing wrong with folding our hands, kneeling down, and asking the God of our beings to assist us and others. Prayer in this manner is perhaps more beneficial for us. What we are doing when we pray for help, is turning our problems over to the Divine. There comes a time when we are so overwhelmed that turning it over to God is precisely what we need to do. Experiencing grief is one of those times.

As part of the healing process, having a place to take the feelings and share them helps us to not always have to hold onto them, especially when they become too overpowering. The act of “giving it over to God” can be a powerful release for many. In some religions there are specific prayers for the dead. In Jewish tradition, for instance, the Kaddish, also known as the “The Mourners’ Kaddish,” is said as part of the mourning rituals in services, as well as at funerals and memorials. In other traditions, the 23rd Psalm is often recited, or a rosary is said. Some feel that prayer is one of the greatest acts of charity that can be given for the departed. It certainly has the ability to relieve anxiety and even depression.

Grief is a difficult process. By turning to God of our being our Spiritual understanding we are able to seek guidance on the road to healing.

Christine is the author of “This is not Goodbye: A holistic guide to helping children” And “Warming the Stone Children.” She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Ordained Minister. Her work can be seen at her site: http://www.christinesandor.com.

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3 Responses to Where is God in Grief?

  • I believe God is right with us when we are grieving otherwise many people would simply run mad. The one thing to do is to acknowledge that there is a God – a higher being that holds the universe and is able to penetrate the grieving heart.

  • Dawn,
    You pose some interesting questions, ones that I would suggest you discuss with your pastor. I personally believe in God and have faith in a being greater than myself, that said I also believe that God gives us free will and sometimes bad things just happen to good people. I also believe we are here on earth for lessons that we may or may not understand, its part of your reason for living. Religious faith is personal to each human being and your relationship with your faith.
    For me, I got through each day after my husband died because I had faith in something greater than myself, even though I too didn’t understand why I had to lose my husband and in that moment life didn’t seem fair, it was faith that got me through another day.
    Thank you for sharing your feelings and I wish you peace and an open heart of understanding for things we don’t understand.
    JoAnne Funch

  • I have never been a religous person and I was,nt raised in a church going family. I went to sunday school at a young age but did,nt know much about the bible.It was,nt until I met my husband that I started going to church and read some of the bible. I found it quite confusing. if god is all merciful and does,nt give us more than we can bear then why does he let terrible things happen to people? Why do we loose loved ones at a young age? I lost my Son 2 years ago he would have been 21 this year. I myself have an autoimune discease.My life is just a mess. Sometimes I think if I had been more religous these things would,nt have happend. I have friends that are religous and spiritual and there attitude just baffles me, they loose a loved one or something bad happens to them they say its gods way, why is it gods way I don,t understand.

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