Dealing with grief and loss
There’s no “right” way to grieve when we’ve suffered a loss—every experience of grief needs to run its own course. And all grief holds the possibility of comfort and healing within it.
Grief is one of the faces of love. When something we love feels far away from us, or feels lost to us, we grieve. Grief, at its core, is a pure and a powerful thing. When we grieve for something, or someone, that means we love that something, or someone.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that grief is easy. It isn’t. Grief can be overwhelming. The losses we experience can be devastating. They can feel meaningless, or bewildering, or unfair (see the article, Why Do Bad Things Happen?). Every person’s path through grief is their own, and every loss we experience—whether it’s the loss of a loved one, or a job, or a home, or anything—is different from any other loss that’s ever been experienced. There is no “right” way to grieve, and no one and nothing can tell us that our grief “should” look like this or that. We all need to walk our own path. But the core of every experience of grief is love.
And love is really powerful. The love within our grief has the power to someday—eventually—soothe the sting of our loss and bring us comfort. There’s no timeline for healing. We cannot expect ourselves to be done grieving after a year, or a decade—really, there’s no point at which the grieving process is “over.” But, over time, the warmth and strength of the love within our grief can start to shine more clearly through the veil of heartache. In the Psalms, we read, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). The “night” spoken of here isn’t measured in hours, or any increment of time—it’s a state of the heart, a state of loneliness and loss. Sometimes our heart’s night lasts for a long, long time. But the morning will come. Grief is one of the faces of love, but so is joy. Love is a blessed thing—blessed by God Himself—and so, in the end, love is its own comfort.
The People We Love Are Not Gone Forever
Often our deepest experiences of grief have to do with the death of someone close to us. The idea that death is the irreversible loss of a person’s existence is hard to bear. But the New Church teaches that every human being lives on forever after the death of the body. It teaches that after death, we’re exactly the same people as we were during our lives on this earth, and that we’re just as fully human then as we are right now. All that changes is that, after death, we find ourselves in a different kind of world—a spiritual world, a world more vivid and more alive than this one. Death is truly not the loss of life; it’s simply a step between one kind of life and another (see the section “Life after death, heaven and angels are all real” on our spiritual concepts page).
These ideas can be very comforting, but they should not be used to deny us our experience of grief. Someone who has moved on to the next life is not lost forever, but those of us left behind still have to wait a while before we get to see them again. The loss we experience is very real. There is absolutely nothing wrong with grieving. When we need to grieve, we need to grieve. The states of our heart need to run their course—when the time is right, the morning will come.