Can grief really be healed?
From the March 10, 2017 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.
A few months ago, my friend who’s a junior in high school tragically lost one of her best friends. She chronicled some of her grieving process on Instagram, posting photo collages, poems she wrote, and even singing her friend’s favorite song on her Instagram story. Through it all, one of the things she kept coming back to was that she would never stop grieving for her friend. Time would pass, the ache might lessen, but it would always be there.
While I understood the feeling, something within me rebelled at the notion that the pain of grief has to go on forever. There had to be a better answer, and I felt I found it in reading Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in the Bible. Among the list of eight “blessings” known as the Beatitudes, Jesus included this promise: “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
If you’ve read this beatitude all your life, as I have, maybe it doesn’t immediately strike you. It hadn’t really stood out to me before. But as I read it this time, thinking about my friend’s grief as well as the times I’ve struggled with profound sadness, it hit me what an amazing promise this is. This beatitude doesn’t say, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they’ll get over most of their grief eventually.” This beatitude makes a direct connection between mourning and comfort. It says that the outcome of mourning is comfort.
Wow. That’s a guarantee from Christ Jesus himself that grief can be healed. That every heart struggling with pain, loss, or tragedy will be bound up by divine Love, God.
How? Well, it’s true – Jesus didn’t say how. But here’s one idea that helps answer that question: “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need” ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 494). This promise from the author of Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy, who was a student of Jesus’ teachings, gives me the conviction that no matter how deep in grief we are, no matter how far away from God we might feel or how much comfort we need, divine Love is reaching us, holding us – is meeting that need. We may not always know how exactly, but we can know that Love’s ministering is going on and that it’s tailor-made for each of us.
Which means that if it’s a particular spiritual insight we need to break through the darkness of grief, we’ll have it – such as a glimpse of the eternal nature of our loved one’s life. If it’s a need for a feeling of peace, that can happen, too, perhaps as we gain confidence that the good they represented in our lives came from God and will find some fresh expression in our experience.
Once, for me, what broke through my grief was a spilling-over feeling of gratitude for the person I was missing so fiercely. That gratitude moved me forward, and though there were other steps and insights before the complete healing, it did come.
No matter how deep in grief we are, divine Love meets that need. Even though each healing will be different, looking at my own experience I can say that one thing each release from grief had in common was that at some point, a shift happened such that what God was saying and doing as eternal Life and Love became more compelling than the emotions and the pain. Sometimes this happened gradually, sometimes in an instant. But with it always, always came comfort – and freedom.
Right now, all over the world, people are struggling with grief. They’ve lost their homelands and family members, or are battling terrible injustices. So when we accept the spiritual fact of this beatitude, we aren’t just accepting the promise of comfort for our own grief. We’re accepting the fact that the palpable feeling of divine Love’s presence can break the spell of grief for good – for any broken heart in even the most remote corner of the globe.
This article was adapted from an article in the March 10, 2017, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.