Faith during grief looks different than it does at other times. It’s not always grieving a death either–you could be grieving a lost job, relationship, home, or something else.
Faith during grief can be quieter–a whispered prayer in a hospital, tears shed at an altar in passing, rubbing prayer beads for comfort, a quick “Please help me to be ok” before you return to the crisis at hand.
Faith during grief can be louder–shouting in anger, pouring out your heart in a letter to the Gods, feeling unable to speak to the Gods at all because of what has happened, massive changes of direction in devotional practice.
How do you keep faith alive when you’re grieving? I believe it’s the other way around. Faith keeps you alive when you’re grieving. Faith that the Gods, Ancestors, and Spirits will pull you through this. Faith that there is more good that life has to offer you. Faith that there’s a reason for everything, even if sometimes that reason is that people are assholes and the world is not a perfect place.
As someone who has experienced a lot of grief, and who has struggled to hold on to faith at these times, here are some of my favorite bits of advice. In case you’re wondering, I’m sharing these now because I need to hear them too.
It’s ok to feel whatever you feel. This applies to your grief feelings as well as your faith feelings. Some days you just might not be able to bring yourself to pray. You might be angry at the Gods, even if you know They didn’t bring this on you. You might even doubt the Gods are real at all. It’s ok. They know you’re grieving and They can handle it. Don’t let your upset thoughts be a source of guilt, or a wall between you and your Spirit family when you’re ready to talk to Them again.
This is not the time for divination. Any messages you receive are going to be clouded by your grief. Even positive messages from other diviners are going to be seen from the perspective of sorrow. Additionally, this is not the time to be evaluating information you’ve received from past divinations. If you have insights, you can write them down to consider later. But don’t make any judgement calls right now, just as you wouldn’t make any major life decisions in such circumstances.
Don’t be afraid to reach out. Need comfort? Need hope? Need perspective? No idea how you’re going to get through this? Talk to the Gods, talk to your Ancestors, talk to the Spirits who help you. This is your Spirit family, this is Who you have a relationship with. Many times in divination and Spirit interactions I have gotten the message for both myself and others: “Ask Us for help. We want to help you. We are here for you. Don’t try to bear it all alone.” And of course, all this advice applies to your loved ones in the physical world too!
Remember the practices that comfort you. We’re physical beings and things that soothe our senses help. Lighting candles or incense, repeating a ritual prayer or other familiar piece, reading myths, legends, and stories, using prayer beads, cooking special or traditional foods (especially very physical things like making bread), looking at God images that you love, or simply sitting at your altar/shrine space might all be things that could bring you comfort and peace right now, even if only a little bit. Don’t think of it as trying to erase or magically cure your grief; think of it as just something that might make it a little more bearable. On a personal note, I find making things with my hands, such as needlework, to be extremely soothing in times of stress.
Love and blessings to everyone who is grieving right now.