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Faith and Grief

author unknown :: Nov 26, 2007 ::


How does grief affect faith? Perhaps a more useful question is how does faith affect grief? Losing a loved one in death is not easy. The experience can shake you mentally, physically, and spiritually. During the mourning process, it is not uncommon to rethink your beliefs about God and your relationship with God.

Part of this rethinking process includes adjustment to the loss of what has seemed to be an "absolute relationship." Most people do not plan for those who are close to them to die. Married couples, for example, tend to plan for their future together. Depending on their age, couples normally plan on raising children, buying a house, retiring, etc. In this sense, a close relationship may seem to most of us to be something that will never end. When these relationships do come to an end it can be a struggle to adjust to life without the one who was supposed to be there forever.

Part of this experience can be the concern about whether another absolute relationship, our relationship with God, might also end. For some people this concern may not be put into words or even fully understood. Yet this feeling can cause a real faith crisis for the bereaved person. Fear of abandonment by God often becomes a serious concern.

Faith does not have to be destroyed through the grief experience. In fact, faith can actually become stronger. People dealing with grief often report they find themselves feeling closer to God as they process their grief. In order for positive spiritual growth to occur, it may be necessary to seek some assistance in processing what has taken place and how your faith has been impacted by the grief experience.

Envisioning God on Your Side

Dealing with the death of a loved one is a time when being aware of God's presence is especially important. For some people it is a time when God actually seems more distant. How can you go about finding assurance of God's compassion for you?

One way is to envision God being on your side. Creating a mental picture of God can do this. Set aside some time, perhaps five to ten minutes at first, and try to imagine God's face. Select a time when no one else is going to be around so you won't be disturbed. As you concentrate on this image study God's facial expression. Look for the caring and concern on God's face. Imagine the gentle feeling of God's presence. Become aware that God is not critical of you but is genuinely concerned for you.

If this exercise is difficult for you, try writing God a letter. The letter is between you and God so no one else needs to read it. Because your letter is confidential, you are free to write whatever you want.

Write your letter in any style you prefer. The following outline may be helpful.

You may continue to feel God is active in your life even though you are grieving. If so, you might want to say 'thanks'. If you don't feel particularly grateful, don't feel obligated to write what you don't really feel.

It's not unusual to ask God for forgiveness. Feelings of guilt are common in grief. You may even find yourself feeling responsible for things that happened in your relationship with the one that has died. This is an opportunity to get this feeling of guilt off your chest.

Petition                                                                                               This is simply asking God to help you. This is not a selfish act. Asking God for help is really a demonstration of your awareness of your own limitations. No one needs to struggle with life alone. Your requests to God can be for other people; even your deceased loved one.

Inspiration                                                                                            Ask God to keep you going. Tell God in your letter if you feel let down. There is no need to feel embarrassed about this request. Everyone needs God to give them a "pick me up" from time to time.

Our prayer is that you will find assurance of God's compassion for you.