Grief, Loss, and Spiritual Constipation
Spirituality is one’s personal way of relating to mystery, nonphysical reality, and that deemed greater than the self. You can be truly spiritual and not religious. And, you can be religious but not very spiritual. Spiritual connections are commonly based on faith in life, trust, love, and hope. Spirituality has long been associated with positive health outcomes from many studies; it has been written about in all sorts of medically oriented publications as an integral part of treatment. It is a mainstay of grieving well.
Spiritual constipation, on the other hand, is the consistent blocking of perceptions and beliefs of any of the above by questionable religious dogma, hardcore materialism, or scientism (all can be reduced to and explained by cause and effect) with full attention only given to physical reality. Regardless of the naysayers, spirituality is and always will be here to stay.
We all have bouts with spiritual blockage at various times throughout life and need to step back, reflect, and clear. However, when great loss and change occurs in life, such as the death of a loved one, most secular explanations alone bring little, if any, comfort. In my experience with the bereaved, they automatically turn to some form of comfort from loving friends, long held beliefs or practices, support groups, counseling professionals, their Higher Power or some combination of the above.
If, as often happens, you have given little thought to the vast potential and wisdom of your spiritual self, a great loss can be the perfect time for making inroads on spiritual constipation. Here are some approaches to consider for clearing. Take time to think deeply about them and what they can deliver.
- Who or what do you care for? Connections are at the core of the spiritual self. Friends, relatives, those grieving with you, caregivers, all can be powerful spiritual resources for you to grow closer to by the way you relate to them. Their love and caring, which you can reciprocate, is a part of nurturing that all can benefit from through our interactions. Even as you grieve, work on strengthening your ability to be kind and caring.
- What brings you peace of mind? What setting in the past or present was the source of great peace? Review your memory bank for the scenes, people, conversations, or symbols that placed you in a positive frame of reference. Ask yourself what you need to let go of to choose peace over conflict. Even as you grieve, work to bring peace into your life and especially into your decision-making.
- When do you break from the clamor of the mundane? When I was working full time, each day at noon I would lock my office door. Then sit in a chair or lie down on the floor, and meditate using a mantra or play a soothing tape for 20 minutes. I deliberately turned away from the rat race. Body and mind were refreshed. New thoughts popped in. Every day you can find your release time, let the world go by, and bring healing silence into your life. Even as you grieve, listen to what silence has to teach you about life, the spirit, and your grief.
- What gives you a sense of purpose and meaning? Especially now when a loved one is no longer physically present, your purpose, mission, or life’s meaning will be evaluated. You can establish a new relationship with the deceased since no relationship dies because our loved one dies; you will forever be a mother or father or have a mother and father or sibling or friend. And, equally important, you can clarify your purpose in life at the same time you work on that new relationship. Someone someplace will always need you. Even as you grieve, seek to give and your spirit will soar.
- Are you open to your intuitive self? Intuition is the immediate knowing of something without the use of reason or having prior knowledge. How can that be? Where does it come from? Everyone possesses intuition but not everyone consciously uses it. You are more than just a physical machine living in a mechanical universe, as many are led to believe.
Millions of people have experienced a reality that transcends space and time, although some scientists and skeptics pooh pooh any mention of such a reality. But start with your intuitive self to experience your spiritual side, that amazing human faculty that speaks truth. Ask and listen intently; everything you do begins with the thoughts that show up. Even as you grieve, be open to the wisdom of your intuition, work to develop it (start by giving hunches and feeling their due), and think about why mystery and the unseen is an inherent part of life.