Search Results for: grief

Bereavement, Grief, and Mourning

No one should underestimate the importance of the words we use to understand the world around us. In Genesis, we read that “the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof” (Genesis 2:9). According to Saint John Chyrsostom, this was written in order that “we might learn not only of his wisdom, but also in order to show the symbol of dominion through the assignment of names” (Homily 14 on Genesis, PG 53.116). Certainly, it was important … [Read more...]

Knowing the Symptoms and Signs of Grief

“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.” ― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed Intellectually, we all realize that eventually we will lose our loved ones. We try not to think about that too much as if guarding it as a remote notion in our minds staves off this inevitability. After all, as Saint Gregory of Nyssa observes, “There is an instinctive and … [Read more...]

Stages of Grief

Before the dawn of the internet, AAA (American Automobile Association) used to offer its “Trip Tiks” or helpful booklets that would detail one’s journey.  In addition to providing the best route to a given destination, it would also suggest places to stay or visit along the way.  At the time, they were very popular and I suspect their popularity was related to the human need to know beforehand about a journey’s particular details such as what to see, what to avoid, and most importantly, what to expect. If we adopt the journey metaphor to describe the phases or stages of grief, we recognize … [Read more...]

Finding Meaning in Grief

In the plethora of human experiences, grief is perhaps the most universal and most likely the most difficult with which to cope. The very nature of grief demands that the event that precipitated the grief become meaningful. Yet how can the loss of a person that held together one’s inner world possibly become meaningful? How can a meaningless loss ever become a meaningful gain? Somehow, one needs to find a thread of meaning that can allow one to be grateful for the past, to accept the present, and have hope for the future, but where can that golden thread be found? The philosopher Friedrich … [Read more...]

Too Late to Say What Needed to Be Said ?

There are times when a loved one dies unexpectedly or suddenly and important things are left unsaid or undone. Even worse, relationships may be injured by disagreements and conflicts that were not resolved before the untimely departure of our friend or next-of-kin. Either of these scenarios can exacerbate the grief we experienced and leave us feeling not only guilty and full of regrets, but also helpless in terms of anything that can now be done that could anyway alter the situation. In such cases, some psychologists suggest composing a letter to the departed in which we express all the … [Read more...]

Making Death into a Means to Spiritual Transformation

In a 1789 letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, Benjamin Franklin wrote, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Yet, most of us spend our lives doing everything possible to avoid them both. Even when a loved one dies some try to escape this grim reality by holding “celebration of life” events rather than a more traditional wake or funeral service. We are surrounded and inundated by cheery, but inane, messages proclaiming youthful vigor, rejuvenation, and bliss in marketing campaigns. All of this makes the grief process more difficult and a search for meaning all … [Read more...]

“Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Emotions are of great importance in our lives as human beings and as Christians. Carl Jung once observed, “Emotion is the moment when steel meets flint and a spark is struck forth, for emotion is the chief source of consciousness. There is no change from darkness to light or from inertia to movement without emotion.” In general, emotions motivate us, organize our world, and help us to adapt to changing situations. And it is significant that the Beatitudes conclude with the brightest and most blessed of human emotions, a rejoicing and gladness that are strikingly and peculiarly Christian, for … [Read more...]

Preparing for Sleep: Sleep Hygiene and Spiritual Hygiene

For the fathers, health could be defined as a “regularity (εὐστάθεια) in the discharge of natural functions” (Saint Basil the Great, Hexameron, 9) that reflected the good stability throughout the cosmos in which night follows day and sleep follows wakefulness. And that state of health certainly included regular and restful sleep. After all, Saint Ambrose is said to have written a poem to that effect, which Saint Augustine quotes in his Confessions(Book 9, chapter 12) and happens to be rendered in verse by one 17th century translation as follows: “O God, the world’s great Architect, Who dost … [Read more...]

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted

On the surface of it, the opening words of this beatitude appear to be contradictory. For how could one who mourns be blessed, meaning free from harm or suffering? These two states—mourning and blessedness—seem to be so mutually exclusive that Saint Augustine once made the comment that “nothing is so akin to misery as mourning, and nothing so remote and contrary to misery as blessedness” (Exposition on the Psalms, Psalm 86). The loss of a loved one can be a devastating experience that affects the way we think, feel, and behave in ways that certainly don’t seem positive. Grief often entails … [Read more...]

I Look for the Resurrection of the Dead

Human death is one of those experiences that we prefer to avoid if at all possible.  We have been conditioned to avoid the discussion of death even with the dying! We shun looking at the dead in their natural state before the mortician’s art has done all that is possible to make the dead resemble the living.  Even in death, we prefer to hold celebrations of life rather than confront the harsh reality of our earthly existence coming to a halting end. While this is a common approach in modern society, it doesn’t reflect the beliefs we profess in the Creed. Death is painful. It hurts and it … [Read more...]