When Grief Shakes Spiritually

"I used to be sure about a lot of things. Not now. I'm confused. I'm not sure what I believe anymore," Tony shared.

Tony's son Drake was the oldest of four boys. He was the leader and mastermind of the sibling crew, forming vast armies and leading them in heroic battles. With Drake as their general, they conquered every enemy they faced. 

Then came leukemia. 

Drake took it like a champ. He faced his treatment like the little soldier he trained himself to be. He fought valiantly. Drake died at home, with his mom holding one hand and his dad the other. He was 12. 

"How could this happen? Why? Where is God in this?" Tony asked.


Spiritual confusion is common

The spiritual impact of a loved one’s death can be massive. It can raise deeply buried, long-held questions (along with some new ones) about God, the spiritual world, heaven, and the afterlife. 

Our hearts have been shattered. Spiritually, we can be deeply shaken. Many of our beliefs may be challenged. Our spiritual wonderings can be intensified.

One thing is certain - our spiritual life, whatever we define that to be, will change. It cannot stay the same. We will either choose to grow deeper into our beliefs, distance ourselves from them, or adopt some new ones (or a combo of all these). 

Our hearts and minds desperately need to make spiritual sense of this loss. We do this through whatever faith-lens we’re looking through. If our belief system doesn't supply adequate, emotionally satisfying answers, comfort, and hope, we'll naturally begin to question things. 

Some are vocal about their spiritual questioning. Others are intensely private. Whichever the case, most of us intuitively know that no answer will completely satisfy our broken, shattered, and bleeding hearts. We miss our loved one. We want them back. To expect ourselves to see things with decently clear perspective is unrealistic (or perhaps impossible). 

Our normal view of the world can be rattled, torn, or completely dismantled by this traumatic loss. Spiritual confusion and questioning during this time are natural and common. 

"I wonder about a lot now. I'm sure of some things, but less sure of others."

An exercise to try:

Some have clearly defined spiritual beliefs. Others do not. The important thing is processing how this loss is impacting us spiritually. To help with this, consider trying the following:

Breathe. Practice deep breathing at least once a day. When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, find a chair, get quiet, and initiate deep breathing. 

Talk. It's important to verbalize what's going on in us spiritually. Talk with a trusted friend, grief counselor, therapist, or spiritual mentor. Sharing what you're thinking and feeling may be more important than finding answers. Process those doubts and questions verbally.

Write. Journal about what's going on spiritually. Write a letter to God. If you’re not into writing, draw, paint, or sculpt what’s happening inside. Creative expression helps greatly in processing the spiritual impact of your child's death. 

You will not be the same. You know this. As you genuinely seek answers, truth has a way of surfacing over time. 


Adapted from the award-winning bestseller, Shattered: Surviving the Loss of a Child.


About the Author

Gary Roe is an author, speaker, and chaplain with Hospice Brazos Valley. He is the author of the award-winning bestsellers Shattered: Surviving the Loss of a Child, Please Be Patient, I'm Grieving, HEARTBROKEN: Healing from the Loss of a Spouse, and Surviving the Holidays without You and the co-author (with New York Times Bestseller Cecil Murphey) of Saying Goodbye: Facing the Loss of a Loved One. Visit him at www.garyroe.com.

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