The only thing certain in life is that it changes. Sometimes those changes are happy ones; yet, everyone will experience tragic ones as well. These are the changes that propel us into awakening and soul growth. When loss occurs that rips us to the core such as loss of a relationship, a career, a hope, a dream, your health, how, exactly, can we navigate through such treacherous waters?
We must first remember that while life changes, God never changes. As we grieve our losses, know that the Divine Presence is always with us. Knowing this, we can begin to heal our wounds and come out spiritually stronger. Having faith does not mean that we do not grieve over our loss or that we neglect the grieving process. We can, and must, grieve our losses while maintaining our faith to come out with a heart opening to renewed love and strength.
There are phases of the grieving process that we need to move through order to process our feelings and heal. Some of the phases include:
Phase One - Expressing emotion. Whether you are a man who has been taught not to cry or a woman, crying is a healthy way to release emotion. Keeping the faith does not mean avoiding emotion, in fact, expressing feelings is good for you. Bottling emotion up will often come out later as a health issue or a psychological challenge. It's also a good idea to have people you can talk to about what you are experiencing.
Phase Two -- Allowing the sadness. A certain amount of time feeling depressed is a normal and natural reaction to grief. Give yourself this time knowing it won't last forever (if it goes on too long, please seek help). As Maharishi Mahesh Yogi says, "It may be that the clouds are gathering. Let them come and go; they go as they come. Take no notice of their coming and, you go your way. Make your way through the clouds if they lie on the way. Do not try to dispel them, do not be held by them either, they will go the way they have come. They are never found stationary, but if you like to pause to see them wither away, wait for a while. The wind is blowing anyway; it is to clear the clouds from your way. Just wait to see the clouds wither away, and the sun, the same old sun of love will shine again in the fullness of its glory."
Phase Three - Meeting physical challenges. Sometimes our grief is so heavy that we develop physical ailments such as headaches, backaches, stomachaches, etc. For this reason, it is important to practice self-care and nurture yourself while you are grieving so that your health is not compromised.
Phase Four - Feeling guilt. We may feel guilty about the loss as if we have caused it. If it's loss of a relationship, we may feel that we said something wrong or we should have been a better person - one who is lovable and not rejected. If it's loss of a job or business, we may feel that we didn't try hard enough or were smart enough, so it's our fault for the loss. If a loved one makes their transition, we may feel that we should have taken better care of the person or resolved old issues. Taking guilt off the plate goes a long way in healing. Guilt is a useless emotion and detrimental to say the least. We internalize things and blame ourselves when generally it is not anything we said or did to cause the loss.
Phase Five - Regaining joy. When suffering the effects of grief, it's more important than ever to ramp up your spiritual practice. There is little chance of moving on in a healthy way without the aide of God and the angels. No matter how badly you feel, make prayer a priority - even if it is just a short affirmation or a quick request to your angels. You do have heavenly help during this time and are never alone because you can never be separated from God - your Source. Also sit down on your meditation mat and meditate even for a few minutes each day. A little bit of meditation practice goes a long way in healing your heart and opening up the channels to receive love.
After all, it is not time that heals all wounds; rather, it's love that heals all wounds. When grieving, open your heart to love and watch it pour in from God, the angels, lovedones, pets and unexpected sources.
Dr. Barbara Gulbranson is one of the nation's leading spiritual teachers, author, spiritual coach, ordained minister and director of the Suicide Prevention Center, a program of United Health Services.