Last week, I attended a grief and loss training session for my job. We began the session with a couple of TV show clips. The recurring theme in the shows was that one person was embracing the loss for what it was and another person was, in my words, attempting to mitigate the crappiness of the situation.
Last night, I had a dream that my sister died. It sucked. The situation was crappy. (By the way, the loss of the time that I could’ve spent with her in the future was something that caused me (forced me?) to grieve.) In the dream, I saw out of the corner of my eye a brochure. It contained these deep spiritual questions like, “Why did this happen?” I remember wanting to read that brochure, and then I thought to myself, “All of this time I’ve spent seeking the Divine and I’m still just as clueless as everyone else when it comes to dealing with grief.”
“Religion is the opium of the masses.” That’s the mentality that is implicit in my subconscious dream response to that brochure. In some sense, its true though. Seeking the Divine, often also means seeking a divinely inspired elation or seeking an emotional (or actual) immunity to the hard things in life. Even though a life of seeking God puts one in a tougher balloon-like situation (i.e., a situation where one is placed in the way of more harm), there’s still some hope that there will be peace and joy in suffering. We (Christians) are so weird.
Perhaps its better for me to embrace the crappiness of the situation and to stop seeking to use God as my teddy bear. Perhaps its just ridiculous to expect that I can gain some sort of psychological immunity from emotional trauma by having certain metaphysical beliefs and a relationship with the Divine. This is probably heresy, for, according to Paul, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Perhaps its not necessarily heresy. One could just say that God does not give “enough strength” (i.e., the amount required for us to experience death without much emotional trauma) to deal with the loss of loved ones.
I wonder if there have been any studies that suggest that religious individuals deal with death better. Intuitively, one might expect that because religious individuals expect to see their loved ones again in some sort of “after life”, they might be able to cope better than individuals who do not believe this.
Just realized this: embracing the crappiness of the situation is a part of mitigating the crappiness. This is not a surprising or new idea. The stages of grief suggest that this is the case. But what does God have to do with embracing the crappiness? Usually we call Him in for the anesthetic. Perhaps God’s role in the grief process is to “be a shoulder to cry on.” Ugh…that’s ambiguous and nauseatingly cliche. I’ll be thinking today about how that concept can have more meaning and less nausea.