On April 11 2020, my beloved wife, Bridget, to whom I was married for 53 years, died in hospital from an untreatable form of cancer. Bridget and I went to kindergarten together.
Bridget served as President of St. Matthew’s Chancel Guild for fourteen years and her faith was very strong.
My grief on her passing was overwhelming. It’s been said by some well-intentioned folk, to help one move on, that time is a great healer. This has not been my experience. I was considering what the source of this anecdote might be, and it seems it could be connected to the Bible passage from 1 Thessalonians 4:13, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.”
Religion and spirituality are complex, important issues in the wake of a loss. Religion can be an incredible comfort in times of loss and may also cause us to question our faith as we struggle to make sense of the death of a loved one. And, in cases like the quote from Thessalonians, grief can confuse our feelings about our faith and, conversely, our faith can confuse our feelings about grief.
I have no doubt that the expression, ‘those who believe need not grieve,’ is spoken with the best of intentions and with the hope that it will bring comfort.
After Bridget died, I felt a deep and aching pain and I still do. When the person I loved so much left me, emotions that come with grief – sadness, loneliness and even anger – almost overwhelmed me. Then slowly, from deep inside, I began to realise faith that Bridget is in a better place and that I will see her again one day. I do find comfort in this, even though it does not remove the pain that she has left this earth. I don’t know why this is, but my faith in God tells me that it is the truth. I feel this in my heart and know that she will always be with me in spirit.
What I have discovered since Bridget died is that the depth of my grief did not cause a loss of faith. In fact, my faith that we will meet again in a much better place has grown much stronger. I cannot explain why that is, but it is my truth.
By Richard Farrar