Grief is something that everyone will struggle with at some point in his or her life. I have a unique perspective on grief and grief recovery as I find myself stuck in between psychology and theology. On the one hand, I am a therapist helping people work through their grief, but on the other I am a Christian who knows that there is a greater purpose in life and in death that not one of us can fully understand. Just recently, I was approached by an individual who has been plagued by the death of a child. The emotion and the turmoil were evident by the droves of tears that cascaded down his face. This individual’s guilt, hopelessness, and helplessness were almost overwhelming. Upon discovering this client on my schedule I consulted with other mental health professionals about the best way to handle this situation. It was interesting when all mentioned separately that connecting the bereaved with a local faith organization was central to promote healing.
American society prides itself on its adeptness at achieving and overcoming. Children are taught from birth to succeed and push forward. “Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” some have said. There comes a point, however, when the pain is so present and so real that no amount of self-will will allow a person to jump the hurdle that confronts that person in life. This is the point where a person must look beyond him or herself and find healing through others or through someone more powerful than any mortal man. This is when a person is humbled and falls upon their knees praying for relief from God who gives graciously.
Perhaps a person’s character may be measured by where he or she turns when testing comes. Money, power, authority, and stability all may provide comfort for a short time, but it is when the real struggles are upon us that we see where we ultimately put our trust. All of the therapy, the antidepressants, and the heart to heart talks with loved ones will help with those painful feelings, but faith in a God that is greater than death will ultimately heal.
So often when facing a grieving person, it’s difficult to know what to say. While this is certainly not the time to cram religion down someone’s throat (not that anytime is a good time to do that) a thoughtful card reminding the person that prayers are being offered in their name may be helpful. Perhaps even praying with the grief stricken person may be helpful. Prayer is a powerful and when at our lowest our connection with God will raise us up. He is many things to many people, but He is Healer to all.