Why is grief so hard? Each grief is different, but a particular question often occurs in some form as one confronts the loss of a loved one -Why did this happen? Why him or her? Why me? Why now? Why in that way? It may be momentary, but more often, such questions persist far too long, often hidden in the recesses of the mind. Their continuing pulse can disrupt one’s work through grief and leave a person in a ‘stuck’ place. A previously secure faith and the balm it could provide seem blocked and prayer seems empty. Why is often a faith question.
Faith & Grief was started to provide a safe place in the arms of God however one sees and labels the ground of being. We had seen people avoid faith questions to their detriment and wanted to find ways to free them to tap the resources of faith which could help them through tough times.
The why’s which haunt the deepest parts of ourselves may indicate something needs to change. For many, the why’s are rooted in a childhood image of deity as ‘protector’ extraordinaire, and that image is often unconscious – learned in our earliest years and held in our bodies. We ask, God gives. Simple as that. The Abrahamic religions explicitly make that case at times in scripture. And if we ask and it doesn’t happen, something feels broken. If we not able to be face the conflicts we feel, our relationship with the one on whom our faith is based becomes damaged.
But scripture also states that bad things do happen to good people. The problem with an image of a god as magic becomes clear at such times. At 9/11, why were some people saved and others not? Why does a pandemic kill some and affect others hardly at all? Does the right kind or amount of prayer change God’s mind? Why would a good, all powerful deity ignore true need? Have I sinned and lost God’s good side? The why’s continue – and multiply.
But, what kind of capricious, uncaring deity would look upon the created order and callously allow a two-year-old to die from cancer? The God I know is a God of love and choice, who blesses those who mourn and cries with us. As good clergy of any faith will tell you, ‘why’ is the wrong question. ‘How’ is far more helpful. But the problem is, the ‘why’s’ gain power if we shame people into suppressing them. So how can you help your friend address them in order to move on?
First of all, normalize –note how you would be asking the same questions, especially if you have grieved too. Listen well and long. Empathize with how they feel and do not judge – remembering that the experience of grief can differ greatly from person to person. No one has the answer for why this horrific loss happened, nor how to take away the pain. Nor would we want to. For facing the pain and owning it is how one moves through grief. Grief is, after all, the other side of love. To feel the pain is to embrace the love. Simply by listening to a person mourn and validating whatever they need to say, the weight of grief lightens, and the stuck places loosen up. Once they are freed, they will find their way, each in his or her own unique way.