Spirituality and Grief
At C&C Resources for Life we believe that loss has a significant impact on every part of us, mentally, physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. Giving space to the spiritual in our journey of grief can be one of the gifts that grief gives to us. My name is Dr. Joyce Peasgood. I'm a spiritual director who specializes in soul care here at C&C Resources for Life in Kamloops, B.C. I want to share a little bit of my own thoughts about grief and loss from the spiritual perspective and talk about how taking time for soul care in these experiences can be a tremendous benefit.
The journey through significant loss – regardless of the losses encountered – inevitably alters our ability to engage with daily life at our emotional, physical, cognitive (mental) and social levels. All of these areas take a hit, to a greater or lesser degree. Most often, we are not always aware of the extent that we are affected, which means that we require support and encouragement along the way.
At the deepest level of our being, is the spiritual component of who we are – that is, our spirituality. Contemporary spirituality highlights the uniqueness of individuals in their response to the world around them. This includes our relationship with people in our lives, with the earth and the natural world, and with the Divine. The inner core of our personhood is where life's mysteries and questions may be addressed which affect the lived experience in daily life.
Thus, spirituality can be viewed as the inclusive, tolerant and flexible canopy in which the human spirit is able to ponder, reflect and engage with the Sacred. Therefore, it can be said that everyone has a depth of spirituality, though not always examined. This is due to the notion that spirituality is more about religion than about our inner values.
Since spirituality has its expression in our lived experience, the reality is that our spirituality then affects all of who we are: our emotions, our cognitive processes and our social life. Dostoyevsky noted that the 'examined life' provided strength for the human soul against pain and hardships. He acknowledged that hardships are part of the human experience. Thus, time given to reflection, meditation, and encounter with the Divine, provided wisdom for the journey through the difficult seasons.
Grief – the experience of loss – is a complex journey of physical, emotional and soul pain. No model can fully capture each journey of loss, since each person's grief is unique. Current literature and research provides us with a greater understanding of the implications of grief, and the inner assault upon the human experience. There is the recognition that loss of loved ones or losses which affect our lives that bring about change, hurt. These may include job loss, a move, or health issues.
Truly, self care is paramount in attending to the pain, the grief, and affects of the loss. In the Kamloops area, grief counselling is available to assist in the journey. As well, there are support groups to gain further knowledge and mutual support from others. C&C Resources for Life provides these particular services.
The first step toward integrating the inner spiritual life with our grief journey is to recognize and honour the fact that one has a soul, which is capable of discerning meaning and providing inner strength to each person. This may sound strange, but for a long time, the importance of soul care had been set aside and unrecognized. The academic world and society paid little attention to the care of one's soul – one's inner spirituality.
Ways of connecting with who we are include time spent in silence and meditation – reflecting upon the values and meaning that give us hope and strength. Nature walks provide the space to be alone and reflect upon the colours, sounds (bird song), trees, and water, that have life and speak to our souls. Allowing tears to surface bring about cleansing for the soul, confirming that indeed, I hurt and can cry and it is a good thing.
During seasons of grief, significant faith questions and issues can arise. Often these surface due to inadequate forms of religious training from the past. Inadequate in the sense, that the Divine was presented as a demeaning and harsh reality. It is important to find a soul care provider who is able to gently guide in the direction of discovering Divine Love beyond the negative overtones. In so doing, the person is able to encounter the loving reality of the Divine or Higher Power.
As we become aware that one's inner spirituality affects all aspects of our person, it becomes important to nurture and care for the spiritual component of our person. Particularly this is true during times of losses, which cause confusion and feelings of losing control and perspective. Paying attention to our inner life, in whatever manner we are able to do so, allows us to rest into the process which we experience. Not that the circumstance will alter; however we are able to walk through the darkness of the grief with eyes that are able to see, even if ever so dimly.
Caring for our souls leads to a spiritual renewal within, or as some refer, a spiritual awareness. It is said that this practice enables one to live into, and discover beauty in the moment. Even if the moment hurts.
A wise and discerning soul care provider is equipped to enable others to find solace and comfort in the midst of grief and loss.
C&C Resources for Life provides soul care through Dr Joyce Peasgood. An appointment may be arranged to meet with her through C&C Resources for Life by phone (250.554.4747), booking online, or email at email@example.com.
Dr. Joyce Peasgood, MA, DTh