ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Communicating on a Spiritual Level can Produce Healing, Part I

Updated on April 5, 2016

Spirituality, Grief, and Trauma

Although the terms spirituality and religion are commonly used interchangeably, they are not necessarily reflections of the same experience. According to Julie L. Larson (2012), "In contemporary use, religious rituals represent an outer or exterior aspect of belief, while spirit/spirituality references the interior, private, personal experience." When individuals suffer a violent experience beyond their control, mental trauma can include frightening thoughts and painful feelings. Mental trauma can also produce major changes in behavior, including withdrawal or over-attachment, lack of concentration, irritability, disturbances in sleep, aggression and hyper vigilance (National Institute of Mental Health, 2012). Grief, according to the Mayo Clinic (2012), is "a strong, sometimes overwhelming emotion for people, regardless of whether their sadness stems from the loss of a loved one or from a terminal diagnosis they or someone they loved received." Grief can be experienced with any kind of loss or change in life experiences, including the loss of a job, the loss of being an only child with the expectation of a baby, the impact of a move from one home to another, etc.

Grief Can Make Us Isolated.

Individuals experiencing grief may feel removed from daily life, unable to carry on with routine activities. In situations of experiencing grief and trauma, the result is that it is felt on a deeply interior, private, or personal level. In such circumstances, healing from trauma and grief can therefore be enhanced through a strong spiritual foundation, as it is at the heart of the emotional human experience. A strong spiritual foundation has been shown to help guide individuals through traumatic and grief-inducing experiences including surviving the Holocaust, school shootings like the Columbine incident in Colorado, terrorist attacks like the Oklahoma City Bombing, and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Regardless of the situation, having a spiritual foundation can generate a stronger healing when dealing with grief and trauma.

Although I have written extensively on this topic to include examples and incidents from Oklahoma City and Hurricane Katrina, I have opted to omit them from this article for the sake of brevity. This article is still rather lengthy; however, if you choose to have me to continue to elaborate on my thoughts, I will gladly do so. Just comment below the article and let me know.

Genocide and its messages for Trauma and Grief

The Holocaust

Those who survived the events of the Holocaust faced repeated and constant trauma and stress, to the point where true experiences of grief could not be determined until after physical recovery had begun. Yet, as the physical strength returned to the body, the more and more mental anguish was recalled by many of the survivors. Within that struggle was also the reconciliation of what religion had taught them and what their own spirits--their own internal expression--was dictating. Elie Wiesel, in his novel Night (1989 reprinting) asserts with strong conviction: "Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never" (pg. 32).

The first night in the camp was the most relentless to Wiesel's senses. He recounts still being able to close his eyes and seeing "the faces of little children, whose bodies [he] saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky" (pg. 32), as well as the "nocturnal silence" that took from him any desire to live. Yet, as the brutality and violence became more and more a part of his existence, the more and more he was able to survive each day. His own sense of grief came in brief spurts and in a way that could only be described as a part of life in the concentration camp, as opposed to facing death. One day, a man was hanged for stealing. As the man was facing death, he refused to be blindfolded. As the noose was going around his neck, he started shouting, "Long live liberty! A curse upon Germany!" His cries were silenced when the rope was taught. In Wiesel's words, "I remember I found the soup excellent that evening" (pp. 29-60). Yet another time, when a child was hung alongside two other adults, "being so light, the child was still alive...For more than half an hour he stayed there struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes...That night, the soup tasted like corpses" (pg. 62).

For Wiesel, grief was expressed in the taste of the soup. One hanging was particularly pleasing to him because of the defiance of the man who was hanged. The other was considered such a strong contrast. As the hanging was occurring, someone behind Wiesel was asking, "Where is God?" Wiesel could hear himself answering in his mind that God was hanging on the gallows (pg. 62). The environment of the camp would not allow Wiesel to truly grieve for very long, but was reflected in how he ate his soup. By the next morning, the routine was such that he had no opportunity to grieve beyond that evening's meal.

Dr. Viktor Frankl analyzes such reactions as those experienced by Wiesel and other concentration camp prisoners with clinical calculation: "Apathy, the blunting of emotions and feeling that one could not care anymore...eventually made him insensitive to daily and hourly beatings. By means of this insensibility the prisoner soon surrounded himself with a very necessary protective shell" (1984, pg. 42). The camps then generated their own environments through which prisoners had the chance to adapt to their conditions both physically and psychologically, thus providing them more of an opportunity to survive. But what happened to these prisoners after those circumstances had subsided, after camp liberation, after they had to re-adapt to life outside the camps?

Elie Wiesel is one survivor who does not speak much about his internal struggle, except in dealing with with is own reactions to God and religion. The internal struggles he has faced are seldom written or published. Potentially the closest he gets is a dialogue he has with Moshe the Beadle at the beginning of his work Night (reprinted, 1984). Moshe says, "Man raises himself toward God...Man questions God and God answers. But we don't understand His answers. We can't understand them. Because they come from the depths of the soul, and they stay there until death. You will find true answers, Eliezer, only within yourself" (pp. 2-3).

Dr. Viktor Frankl, however, utilized much of his life after the Holocaust, and indeed while he was still living in the concentration camps, to generate an internal dialogue and analyze the situation from an internal perspective. In Man's Search for Meaning (1984 reprinting), Frankl describes one experience he recalls as "perhaps the deepest experience [he] had in the concentration camp" (pg. 137). After having the draft of his first manuscript stripped from him, he also had to come to grips with the realization that nothing and no one would probably survive him. At that point, he explains in his book, "I found myself confronted with the question whether under such circumstances my life was ultimately void of any meaning." His answer came to him simply yet profoundly when, upon receiving his camp uniform that had until recently been on the body of another individual recently sent to the gas chamber, he received a note. "Instead of the many pages of my manuscript, I found in the pocket of a newly acquired coat one single page torn out of a Hebrew prayer book, containing the most important Jewish prayer, Shema Yisrael." In this specific specific circumstance, Frankl dealt with his own religion, but in a very spiritual (i.e. personal) manner. "How should I have interpreted such a 'coincidence' other than a challenge to live my thoughts instead of merely putting them on paper?...The question which beset me was, 'Has all this suffering, the dying around us, a meaning?' For, if not, then ultimately there is no meaning to survival; for a life whose meaning depends upon such a happenstance--as whether one escapes or not--ultimately would not be worth living at all.' " (pg. 138).

He continues to speak at length about his recovery to life after the camps, and how his whole experiences from dealing with chronic trauma, the onset of and perpetual grief, recovery, and living a healthy life led him to generate a new kind of psychological therapy--Logo Therapy. Each of his moments of realization and practice "living his thoughts" were generated in a spiritual realm and were supported by outward religious beliefs. By generating an opportunity to explore and place meaning on the spiritual soul of man, Frankl was able not only to personally recover from trauma, but help others as well.

To Be Continued

Please Read Part II of this writing, for other examples and conclusions.

© 2014 IvoryTusk


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • IvoryTusk profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      Take your time! Don't feel like you ever have to read everything in one sitting. I appreciate your enthusiasm!

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Can't wait to read the next part!

    • IvoryTusk profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      manatita44: I wanted to thank you for all of your encouragement. Because I have been looking back through my hubs, I decided to take your advice and break down this extensive article into three separate articles. I hope that the work I have done continues to bring people back to my writing. More so, I hope that you know that I will always welcome your input and will take suggestions to heart, even if I have to let them percolate for a long while! :)

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Thank you so much for your comments! You are right; potentially breaking it into two articles would be good. I have been preoccupied with other projects and am looking forward to getting back to writing and editing my Hub articles. :) I will gladly take you up on your kind advice. Thank you again for reading!


    • manatita44 profile image


      4 years ago from london

      An extremely beautiful article and one written so well! Cohesive and full of meaning and clarity. To encourage more readers, it may be better in two parts. I have done this with some of my writings.

      Otherwise a noble and essential read for those seeking meaning to life.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)