When we lose someone we love, especially to the insidious epidemics of substance abuse, suicide, and sudden violence, we often face a spiritual crisis:
“How could a loving God let this happen?”
“Where are they now? Are they OK?”
“Why? . . . Why? . . . Why?”
In the holiday season we bereaved are especially challenged to come to terms with our own spirituality. Regardless of your belief structure, this is a time of hope for peace, love of family, and connection with our Higher Power. How can we embrace the holiday spirit when we are so broken, so consumed by our losses?
I believe that, for many of us, it boils down to a core question of faith. We ask ourselves, “Does my loved one continue to exist and are they okay?” If we can muster that small kernel of belief, the holiday season can start to have meaning again.
I don’t mean Faith with a capital F, which is what most people label a formal religious belief system. I mean faith as in the ability to believe in something we can’t ever prove. That kernel of belief opens the possibilities of finding hope and healing and, ultimately, meaning and purpose in our lives.
Some of us are blessed to feel that ongoing connection;dreams, signs and signals, or palpable feelings of love. Many of us don’t, or aren’t sure it’s real. In the end, it still comes back to that kernel of faith.
Here’s how I’ve chosen to reconcile it: Each of us ‘human beings’ are unique. There is something in us that is much more than just our biochemistry and electrical impulses in our brains and nervous systems. That special thing that frames our joys and sorrows, makes us appreciate art and music, cry and laugh, drives our love and passions. Let’s keep it simple: I call it our soul and I believe it is a unique form of energy. From there it gets easier. Energy is neither created nor destroyed, but it can be transformed. Therefore, I believe the essence of who we are (our souls) lives on. Our loved ones continue to exist . . . as themselves. C. S. Lewis says it best:
You don’t have a soul.
You are a soul.
You have a body.
As to how our loved ones are doing in the afterlife, how could it not be better? They’ve left this mortal coil and all its misery behind, unconstrained by a frail body, unburdened by the wrongs of the world. They are the perfect forms of themselves.
That’s what I believe.