About grief

May 25, 2014
Grief Gita

From the Gita deck, wisdom from the Bhagavad Gita

The Blessed Lord said: You are mourning when there is no cause to lament, and yet you speak words that seem to be wise.  The truly wise lament neither for the living nor the dead.

We all grieve the loss of those who have been important to us in our lives. Our family and friends, our beloved pets. None of us is a stranger to grief.

And yet, as my spiritual beliefs developed, I began to wonder why we grieved so deeply because, as the Gita says

…that which is non-existent can never come into being, and that which is can never cease to be. Those who have known the innermost Reality know also the nature of is and is not.

If we truly believe in an afterlife then we must also believe that we are only parted for a little while and that we will meet again. While our beliefs should temper our grief, they often do not, and I speak from experience here.

Bringing spiritual beliefs into congruence with the way we live seems like an almost impossible task, and yet I believe with all my heart that living a congruent life makes us happier, more certain about our purpose. 

In that respect, we are all works in progress. 

I’m interested in what you think.


28 comments on “About grief
  1. I just don’t know what I believe right now. I’m in a spiritually dead phase of my life. I want to believe there is something after I die but the Big Man In The Sky is just not something I am believing in right now. I guess I’ve decided to live life for Now because the only thing I am positive of is that I am here now and want to be the best I can be while I am alive. xo

    • Laura Kennedy says:

      I think that living life for Now *can* be one of the most spiritual paths anybody can take! Especially during those times when everything goes dark, and it’s just day-to-day, one foot in front of the other, doing-the-next-thing living. If you’re doing your best, you’re walking the spiritual path, pilgrim. Practical faith.

  2. Laura Kennedy says:

    I feel kind of like Karen. Been through periods of intense belief, where I saw God everywhere, and right now, I don’t really feel sure of any particular spiritual belief. Don’t feel alone, or betrayed, or deserted by God–just going about my business, doing the best I can in each moment to be as conscious and kind as I can, feeling as though that’s all God (if He/She is there, and even paying attention) really needs from me, and that any Deity out there worth Her/His salt is probably willing to cut us some slack when we miss the mark (the original meaning of “sin”), and that God likes a good time too, now and then.

  3. Laura Kennedy says:

    And, oh yeah, I seriously doubt that deep spiritual belief and deep grief over loss are in any sense mutually exclusive. So, if our beliefs don’t temper our grief, maybe the idea that they “should” is mistaken?

  4. Diane says:

    I believe in a loving Heavenly Father. I have felt His comfort too many times to deny it. I believe that there is a life after this one. That we are here for the experience and to learn and to grow. And that we may be parted, but that we will be together again. This had brought me great peace during the grief-filled times I have had to let go of someone I loved.

    • I think that’s one purpose of the belief in life after life. To help with grief. And sometimes, it does. But sometimes, it doesn’t because it’s so hard to look past this life.

  5. My husband feels just like you do — at least in theory — that because he believes we live many lives, death isn’t the end and we will all meet again. That may be true but I don’t think that takes away from the grief of missing someone right now. It may make it feel less permanent but it doesn’t make the daily emptiness easier.

  6. It doesn’t stop us from being human. We live on the earth so no matter what happens in the afterlife we only see and experience what’s in front of us. Knowing someone we love lives on somewhere else after death isn’t much solace while we’re still here…without them. That’s just me…

  7. Kim Tackett says:

    Carol, I am reading this as I am caring for our aunt who is in the last days of her life. The experience has been uplifting and so difficult at the same time. Within just a few days her beliefs have been reconciled and clarified and I have seen how much comfort she has. While I am surprised, I am so happy for her that she has a vision for her journey. I’m not generally a prayer, but I was praying pretty hard today, and with my outside voice. I think we get clarity when we most need it. At least that’s how it looks to me today.

  8. Ah, the final question. The fact is, no matter what you believe, you can never be sure. Or if you are sure, you have more “faith” than I do. We fear the unknown, so if you know there is an afterlife, why be afraid? Me? I’m afraid that there is not.

    • That’s my point, too, Tam. Why be afraid? Actually, since we can’t do a thing about it, why waste a moment in fear? Of anything. Including the unknown. That’s what I tell myself.

  9. Roz Warren says:

    I’m an atheist. I don’t believe that when you die, you go on to something better. Nor do I think that believing that makes your loss easier for your loved ones to bear.

  10. I sometimes wish I believed in an afterlife in some place better. I believe it would be a comfort to me—but, I don’t. I believe we live on only so far as we touched someone (or even some thing) during our lives and in the memories of loved ones who still live. My deceased father was an artist and an art teacher. When I look at the art he left behind, I think of him and that something of his essence remains. When one of his former students tells me how he positively influenced their lives, I’m sure of it.

  11. Lana says:

    My mother-in-law passed away 3 months ago. My husband and I were with her when it happened, and it ended up being a very spiritual experience for us. It was very obvious when her soul left her body. Where did it go? That I’m not 100% sure about. My hope is that there is a place where we will see each other again someday. I choose to believe that – I guess that’s faith. But we still miss her for now, because we are human. For me spirituality is a lifelong journey with many ups and downs.

  12. I have lost many loved ones in my life and I believe I will see them again someday, but I agree it doesn’t keep me from grieving. I don’t understand the why’s of it though.

  13. In my job of working with the elderly, most of them on Hospice, I have been honored to be present with many as they ended their earth journeys and moved on to their next. I believe those we truly love visit us in our dreams, in the wind, in a song and on butterfly wings. Those visits comfort me but when I look into the eyes of my bff’s six- year -old little boy crying for his Mommy and struggling to understand why Heaven is a better place for her than here with him, I struggle to hold onto my faith.
    If I didn’t believe in an afterlife, I think my heart would break in a million pieces.

  14. Questions all man face, aren’t they, Carol? After the death of my son, I felt abandoned and like I must have made some utterly unforgivable sin…all the while some were telling me I’d been graced with a gift of sacrifice… Talk about torture…

    Several things helped me on my journey to healing:
    * The realization that our grief isn’t about what we’ve lost, but about our attachment to what has gone missing from our lives.
    * A new acceptance of God and belief that divine intervention is rare and that God not only grieves with us, he celebrates our joyful events, too
    * The belief that our loved one’s spirits are everpresent

    Would be honored if you’d join me at http://www.thefivefacets.com to learn more about my philosophy on loss, grief, and recovery…

    Yours in healing,

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