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Is it Possible to Have Unwavering Faith When Faced With Grief and Loss?

Updated on February 21, 2011

I'm not a religious person. I suppose I would say I'm a spiritual person - I have my own set of fairly eclectic beliefs. It took me a long time to get to this place, and through all the ups and downs in my life, I have always believed in something, even though that something has changed over the years. Even though I've had trials in my life, I look at all the wonderful things in my life and the beauty around me and find myself thinking 'how can I not believe in a higher power?'

I believe in fate and destiny and karma and a myriad of other things, and for the most part, I believe that everything happens for a reason. If we can't see or understand the reason, maybe we're not supposed to, or maybe it will become clear later in life through an event either related or unrelated.

Death is the one area that I have trouble with. We all die, that's a fact of life - one of the only concrete facts of life - but how it happens, when it happens, and why it happens is what sometimes troubles me.

When you're dealing with grief and loss, does it have an affect on your faith?
When you're dealing with grief and loss, does it have an affect on your faith? | Source

Dealing with grief and loss

My dad died at the age of 49 after a very long, painful illness. For two years, he was in and out of hospitals, had chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant, and suffered quite a bit. When he died, I was only ten, and it turned my whole family upside down. My mum had been married previously to an awful man, and when she finally met my dad, the love of her life, he was ripped away from her far too soon. She was left for the second time in her life to raise a child on her own, while still having to work full-time, deal with family obligations, sell our home, and deal with all the things that came with raising a grieving child.

Nearly seventeen years later, I have accepted my father's death. What choice do I have? What choice do we have but to move on after losing a loved one? Many people lose themselves in grief and are blinded by it, and their life ends when the life of their loved one ends. They can't accept it, can't handle it, can't move on, and live an empty half-life that isn't really living at all.

I don't know the reason my dad died, I've accepted that it's not for me to know or understand, and although it hurts and at times makes me unbearably sad and even angry that I'll never see him again, or hear his voice or laugh, or get to ask him the thousands of questions I didn't think to ask him at the tender age of ten, it is what it is and I can't change it. His 49 years of life were more than some others get and those 49 years, although riddled with tragedies of his own, were mostly happy. He died having loved an amazing woman and having a child that he longed and wished for. He was successful and well-liked and loved by many. His death brought my mum and me closer - I can't help but think that as a daddy's girl, my mum and I never would have had a truly close relationship, and now we're best friends and have been since I was a teenager. She's the one person who has never let me down and who I can count on no matter what.

Events that shake your faith

I've had quite a few losses since my father's death. Relatives, family friends, even a couple of classmates. It's the deaths of those who haven't really had a chance to live that grieve me the most - a life lost that had barely even begun. And that's where the question of faith comes in. Sometimes I have to question how these things can happen - how can an innocent child contract a fatal disease? How can young kids out for a good time be killed in an accident? How can things like that happen? And why?

If you hear these stories and you're lucky enough that they haven't really affected your life or touched you in a life-altering way, it may be hard to understand how it can shake a person's faith. I would hear these stories on the news or from friends and my heart would ache but when it hits a bit closer to home, the heartache is even greater. Last week, we got news that a friend of my 17-year-old cousin's had been killed in an accident. Absolutely tragic, but upon hearing the details, I felt sick and still do. This 16-year-old girl had been walking home, down a country road, like she had likely done many times before, and was hit by a car and thrown into a ditch. My cousin and his friend came upon the accident and pulled the girl's body from the ditch and performed CPR on her until the paramedics came. She was alive when the ambulance left, but she died later.

When we first heard the story, we didn't know if the girl was already dead when she was pulled from the ditch. I remember thinking that as awful as it would have been for my cousin, I hoped she had died on impact and not suffered or been afraid. When I heard that she had been alive and that my cousin and his friend had performed CPR on her, I swear my heart stopped beating for a minute. So many things ran through my head - this poor 16-year-old girl with her whole life ahead of her, what must she have been thinking? How must her parents feel, knowing their daughter will never live the life they had planned and hoped and dreamed for her? How must my cousin and his friend feel, having pulled her from that ditch and tried to save her life?

How can things like that happen? If there's a higher power out there, how can they let things like that happen? And why?

Things and people that reaffirm your faith

And then I look at the faces of my two little nephews, the most beautiful children in the world, who I love as if they were my own, and I think how can a higher power not exist? I spend time with my incredible family who mean the world to me, who I love more than anything else, and I wonder again how can a higher power not exist? I go for a walk and look up at the blue sky and feel the sunshine wash over me and hear the wind whispering and the birds chirping and children laughing and see people in love and it feels like everything is right in the world, even though you know there are people suffering and dying all over the world, and even though I've had my fair share of suffering.

Books about faith, grief and loss

Is it possible for anyone to have unwavering, unshakable faith? Is it possible to look at all the tragedy and suffering in the world, but to look at your own blessings and have complete and utter faith that there is a higher power and that everything happens for a reason? I don't know if I'll ever have an answer for that, or if my faith will ever waver to the breaking point, or if something will happen in my life that will never make me question my faith again.

But I guess that's life. Even though it can be so easy to get caught up in the negativity and the pain and the suffering, I think when we're lucky enough to have blessings in our life and to have the blessing of life, we should appreciate it that much more. We should live for those who didn't have a chance to, those whose lives were cut short. Live because they can't, for whatever reason - to honour them and give thanks, whether it's to a higher power or not.

Faith, loss and grief

Have you ever had your faith shaken?

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Thank you for reading

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    • SweetMarie83 profile image

      Marie Landry 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you, I will check out those books. And you're absolutely right, unless you've been through it, you really have no idea. I'm sorry about your grandmother. I lost my grandmother too (several months after writing this hub) and I'm still trying to process and grieve. Sometimes I don't think I'll ever really get over it, and not because her death was tragic of senseless - she was 99 - but because she was one of my best friends and life is so hard without her.

    • profile image

      Jacquie 6 years ago

      Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is one of the best authors to read when you’ve gone through loss. I loved On Death & Dying and I’ve also read The Tunnel & the Light. How to Deal with Grief by Karen Colquhoun is a good read too. What I have found difficult is that people who havent gone through something big don’t understand. I have lost 2 close friends and many relatives. The one that hurt the most was losing my grandmother.

    • SweetMarie83 profile image

      Marie Landry 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you so much Denise. It was very confusing to lose my dad at such a young age - I was old enough to understand the concept of death, but it didn't make it any easier.

      It really is difficult at any age, at any time. I'm so sorry for the loss of your husband. I'm on my way to read the hub you mentioned. :-)

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 7 years ago from North Carolina

      Marie-Thank you for sharing. This is an awesome hub-well written and touching. It must have been so confusing to be 10 and lose your father.

      Death is a difficult experience for most people, and depending on our age, our relationship to the one who died and our circumstances, some deaths are more difficult to resolve...if ever.

      I was much older when I lost my father. But, like your mother, I lost my husband in '05 and miss him every day. My hub: Unresolved grief, speaks of this anniversary meloncholy I revisit each year.

      Take care...

    • SweetMarie83 profile image

      Marie Landry 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Lizette, there certainly are a lot of senseless deaths all over the world, but there do seem to be a lot in that part of the world - Africa as a whole, it seems. You're absolutely right about it being easier to accept when it's an older person - my grama is 99 and my mum and I always say as much as it will be unbelievably hard when she dies, because we're very close to her, we can celebrate her life because she's had a chance to live a full life - she's had a good life, a happy life, and has done so many things. Whereas when it's someone young, you can't help but wonder what their life could have been like, and mourn that much more, I think.

      Wade, I'm so sorry about your niece. I can't fathom how people can get over the loss of a child, someone so innocent with so much life ahead of them.

      Thank you both for your comments.

    • profile image

      Wade Balsdon 7 years ago

      Sweetmarie, something that was really bad news was my 5 year old niece dying of cancer. Her parents remain devastated to this day and she died a number of years ago.

    • profile image

      Lizette 7 years ago

      In South Africa, and I suppose everywhere else - we see a lot of senseless deaths. While I do not really have first hand experience with losing someone very close, I think it is easier to accept when an older person dies as the result of illness rather than a young person dying unexpectedly. Either way, hard to deal with and hard to understand.

    • SweetMarie83 profile image

      Marie Landry 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Neil and Wade, thank you for the comments. Grief is hard to deal with and it is definitely something we all deal with differently. My mum has said if it wasn't for having to raise me, she probably would have fallen apart after my dad died, but I don't know about that, she's so strong. I guess you never know how you'll deal with it until you're put in that situation, but it's never easy, that's for sure.

    • profile image

      Wade Balsdon 7 years ago

      Grief is something we all deal with differently. My mom dies a number of years ago and we were very close. I always believed that I would fall apart after she died, however I handled here death surprisingly well.

    • profile image

      Neil Butterfield 7 years ago

      It is difficult to make sense of life when these types of things happen, especially when it is young children.

    • SweetMarie83 profile image

      Marie Landry 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Hi Shay, it's great to see you! I'm so sorry about your daughter. It certainly is futile to ask the "why did god do this to me" question because we'll never get an answer...the best we can do is deal with the grief in our own time and our own way and do our best to move on. It's easier for some than others, and blaming god doesn't really do any good, it doesn't bring the people back, I guess it's just a question of whether an event or chain of events, circumstances, etc, can lead a person to lose their faith, change their beliefs, etc.

    • SweetMarie83 profile image

      Marie Landry 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Susan, I've been hearing that my whole life, "time heals all" - sometimes it's true, other times it isn't. I guess I could say that time has healed the worst of the pain from my dad's death...I don't wallow in it, and haven't for a long time, but rather I try to remember him and honour him the best I can. I can't imagine losing a child, and I think it's amazing that they never lost their faith. It is nice to know though that I'm not alone in the questions I have; thank you Susan. :-)

    • Madison Parker profile image

      Madison Parker 7 years ago from California

      Marie, It's me, Shay! I used to write here as Madison Parker.

      You ask a very difficult question. I have a grief page on FB for bereaved parents and what I've learned is that some people grieve and move on, some never fully recover. Some blame God; some never do. When I lost my daughter in 2007, I was angry with lots of people at one point or another but never with God. I'm not religious; I'm spiritual, as you say, but a Christian, but still, with all of the evidence that we "go on," after death, there are times when I have doubts. Asking "Why did God do this to me?" is a futile exercise.

      Good article on a difficult subject.


    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Marie my Dad used to say to me "Time Heals All" but in many cases that is so untrue. One of my best friends lost her son who was only 17. I do not think she will ever get over her loss. My Grandmother never got over the loss of her only daughter (My Mother) but yet both these people never lost their faith in God. I enjoyed reading your hub and just wanted to let you know that I have the same questions that you do.

    • SweetMarie83 profile image

      Marie Landry 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you Carol, I appreciate your comment. Luckily for me, the grief isn't all-consuming...I live my life, I try to honour those who have passed away and live my life to the fullest because they can't live...but I know not everyone is able to move pass the grief, and many people lose complete faith after a tragedy. I can't say I blame them. I will definitely look into those C.S. Lewis books, I've never read anything of his other than Narnia, but I think it's time I branch out - thank you!

    • carolapple profile image

      carolapple 7 years ago from Suffolk Virginia

      Marie - what a great hub. So so sorry about your Dad – that is a tough one. Books and philosophy help for me - at least they give you some ideas on how to deal with it, and what you need most - the hope that in the end God is good, justice will win out, and all our questions will be answered. Personally I like "The Problem of Pain" by C.S. Lewis and also "A Grief Observed." I think I will also take a look at the books suggested by RTalloni above.

    • SweetMarie83 profile image

      Marie Landry 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you so much for the comment and for the book suggestions, I will certainly look into them. I really appreciate it.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 7 years ago from the short journey

      Bless your heart. Life can hurt. We live in a fallen world. Sometimes life hurts so much we cannot see how we will survive the pain.

      You've thought a lot about this matter. May I suggest a book? Check out Jerry Bridges' "Trusting God Even When Life Hurts." He has another book you might like to read as well, "Is God Really In Control? Trusting God In A World Of Hurt."


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