Sunday, August 8, 2010

Accepting Other's Beliefs

“How could God have done this to me?”
“My God is a cruel God or he never would have let this happen?”
“It is my faith that has gotten me through this ordeal.”
“I don’t ever want to hear again, ‘God only takes the good ones.’”

When the death of a child occurs in the family, many experience a faith in God they have never known before. They cling to the belief that they will reunite one day with their loved one. They may also say that because they believe in God, He will ease their suffering. Others look upon God as letting them down by allowing their loved one to die. Still others are confused about God’s place in all this.

We hear the word “God” at a funeral service when a death occurs, in sympathy cards, from friends, relatives and even strangers.

We will find people saying things like, “God made sure that your child did not suffer.” On a personal level I ask, why did my child have to suffer at all; why did this have to happen? I heard this comment from a very compassionate woman friend, who I know meant no harm and only wanted to ease my mind after the car accident that killed my daughter. My friend continued, “Would you have wanted your child to have been incapacitated all her life with you taking care of her? She’s better off being with God.” I thought to myself, what in the world makes her think she would have been in bad shape. A second thought quickly surfaced. I would have wanted her to be alive in any condition, and yes, I would have taken care of her.

I would have preferred my friend simply express her condolences to me, but I knew she was a religious person and her faith sustained her in everything she did. When she found out she had cancer, she was accepting of the fact she did not have long to live and used her remaining time to do what she referred to as God’s work.

Others may say to bereaved parents, “You don’t have to grieve too long; you’ll be with your daughter eventually.” That does not mean that I have to agree with a statement like this. I have a choice. I can get mad, or I can decide this is just an easy answer to something not understandable to many. I have chosen the latter.

An irritating phrase that bereaved parents do not want to hear is “God would want you to forgive,” which someone might say if your loved one is murdered and the offender goes on trial. If you believe that the Higher Being of your faith can handle your anger and rage and take the tears away as they talk about heaven or eternal life, you are entitled to do so. If you do not believe any of that, try to explain your feelings. Everyone is entitled to his or her own beliefs.

In the book No Time for Goodbyes author Janice Harris Lord says, “The role of a Higher Being in what happened to you is your own faith decision. If you believe this was meant to be, that’s fine. If it doesn’t make sense, try to understand that those who say what they do, mean well and are sharing their own faith decision and not trying to hurt you.”

On the other side of the fence, those who were once religious may lose all faith, blaming God for letting this death occur and swear they will never go into a church again. That is an emotional decision and could change with time. Others say that after-death spiritual experiences where their loved ones have communicated with them are emotionally and spiritually healing to them. Finally, others believe that their faith in God sustains them as they endure their suffering.

Some good guidelines to follow during this fragile time in your life:

· Don’t discuss God with religious people who use this as an answer to complex questions. Their faith journey may have been different from yours.

· Find someone who has had an experience similar to yours who also has a meaningful religious faith and ask how their faith is helpful to them, whether you end up agreeing or not.

· Contact a religious counselor who has special training in accepting and dealing with grief.

Be accepting of others and their beliefs, even in your darkest hour, shows progress in your grief journey.

Editor's note: This 'coping' article is one of over 80 in Sandy Fox's new grief book, Creating a New Normal...After the Death of a Child. The book can be purchased through Barnes and,,, and iUniverse.

1 comment:

  1. OMG! Looking for some other completly different information on google I stumbled upon your blog.
    Of course it was my little girl's hand from Heaven.She's always doing that to me.I will read it tonight after work when I'll have more time.Thank you for sharing your blog.Heloisa