One of the most important resources to turn to when mourning the death of a loved one is the spiritual core beliefs and traditions you have been exposed to. Many mourners have told me about using their spiritual practices to find meaning and eventual peace of mind in trying to integrate their losses into their suddenly different worlds.
In particular, spiritual beliefs help to bring comfort, and in many instances, a sense of relief and meaning to the loss of loved ones. Here are seven ways to plumb the depths of your beliefs to find peace and ultimately the motivation to begin the process of acceptance of the death.
1. Meditate on the belief that the people who come into your life to help at this time, the meaningful things you read, the unexpected things that just seem to come out of nowhere and give comfort, are the Universe, God, or a Higher Power knowing you are in need and remembering you. Look for ways that Your Higher power tries to connect with you. If you look, you will find. Many choose their Higher Power to be their therapist. Believe your Higher Power is with you, especially in time of need.
2. Love has long been considered a most powerful force for dealing with the fear and worry that are common responses when mourning. Love protects. God, the Universe and your Higher Power all work through love. That’s why our support networks are so useful. You will also feel better if, even as you are hurting, you show love for others through service. Create a routine of caring.
Focusing on how to love in separation—a critical spiritual task—will also keep your loved one alive in your heart as you begin the major task of accepting his/her loss. It will give you a spiritual boost. And, most important of all, love yourself without limits. Be good to yourself. Give yourself a gift every day.
3. Use traditions and rituals as vital supports in dealing with transitions. You can create new rituals for starting each day, remembering your loved one, or trying to establish a new habit or routine. Rituals stabilize and help us connect. Perhaps you may want to start a tradition of celebrating the deceased’s birthday or special anniversary.
4. Read what the various holy books say about the legitimacy of sorrow. Don’t deny the pain. Many divine figures grieved. Jesus grieved. Give yourself permission to grieve as long as you feel it is necessary. Embrace your grief and allow it to run its course. Be assured that your grief is not only normal; it is the only kind on the planet, because each relationship is one of a kind. And, don’t avoid legitimate suffering. It will cause even more suffering in the final analysis.
5. Many people believe in the doctrine of The Communion of Saints. It is essentially the belief that deceased loved ones who go to heaven can be prayed to and intercede to God for survivors on earth. I often tell mourners there is nothing wrong with talking to the deceased loved one, or praying for a sign that the loved one is in a better place. If you don’t get an answer right away, don’t feel your Higher Power hasn’t heard you. Be patient and persist. Believe that you will be heard and never abandoned.
6. If you believe in a spirit world, afterlife, or heaven then you can also dwell on the following possibilities. Possibility is what hope is all about.
A. Your loved one knows what you are going through.
B. Your loved one can help you now more than before.
C. You can ask for ideas on how to deal with a vexing problem.
D. The deceased loved one assumes there will always be a relationship with survivors.
E. Grieve with the conviction and remind yourself that you will be guided through your ordeal.
F. Some day their will be a reunion.
7. Pray for the wisdom to make the right choices. Coping well and good grief are all about wise choices. For example, when will you intentionally start new routines, when will you freely express what you are feeling, when will you take a break from your grief, when will you employ self-care on a regular basis, and when will you start loving in separation are all based on the power of choice. For months or years your choices will pave the way for integrating loss into life. Pray as you would talk to your best friend. Cry out for help. Ask for strength, but seek wisdom to choose.
We are mysterious beings who clearly have a spiritual yearning. Be open to how your everyday spirituality (kindness, active caring, compassion, we are all connected) can play a major role in bringing comfort and new meaning into your life at this time of great turmoil. Talk to others who have similar beliefs and allow your intuition to become part of your decision making process. You possess the ability to grow through your great loss and find inner peace.
Dr. LaGrand is a grief counselor and the author of eight books, the most recent, the popular Love Lives On: Learning from the Extraordinary Encounters of the Bereaved. He is known world-wide for his research on the Extraordinary Experiences of the bereaved (after-death communication phenomena) and is one of the founders of Hospice of the St. Lawrence Valley, Inc. His free monthly ezine website is http://www.extraordinarygriefexperiences.com