How does grief affect faith? How does faith affect grief?
Losing a loved one is not easy. The experience of loss can shake you emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually.
Grief can shake your faith in a number of ways. If you are a religious person, you may find yourself asking why God has let these sad things happen to you and your family. Did God cause this death, or did God allow this death to happen? Was God getting even with me for all the bad things in my past? These questions are not unusual, and you are not the first grieving person to search for answers to them.
You may also find yourself asking, “How could this happen to such a good person?” or “How can life be so unfair?” Many of us feel that if we work hard and perform acts of kindness, we will be rewarded. But death challenges our beliefs in what is fair and just. Although it is natural to question the fairness of losing someone you love, it is important to remember that your loved one died of a medical cause, and that at some point, each of us will die.
In addition to questioning your faith in God and in fairness, you may also begin questioning your faith in yourself and your future. We tend to identify ourselves by the roles we play: spouse, child, parent, sibling, or friend. If you were close to your loved one and cared for him/her for a long time, you may not remember who you were or what your life was like before you had those roles. In this situation, it is natural to feel upset, confused, sad, or even angry. Grief takes time, because you will need to discover who you are now that these roles have changed.
How you look for answers to these questions will depend on how you and your family understand God and God’s involvement in your lives. Your faith does not have to be destroyed by the grief experience, but it is typically impacted in some ways. If you are active in a faith community, you may find it helpful to talk with your pastor or spiritual advisor. He/she will be able to guide you to answers that are grounded in your faith tradition.
Adapted from “Grief and Faith,” cancersupportcommunity.org