In our second installment of our new series on Grief—New Beginnings—our Everyday Being Circle Partner, Michele Ricciardi-Lamberti, talks about faith during the grieving process.
Michele lost her husband unexpectedly ten years ago, and through her shared experiences, Michele will guide you towards finding your strength through your grieving process.
WHY? This is a question you will ask yourself for the rest of your life.
Not everyone reading this blog has the same faith. And perhaps some of you don’t believe in any religion. Whatever your faith may be, I hope you take from this what you can, while you’re processing your emotions regarding your loss.
“Only The Good Die Young”, Ah, those immortal words from Billy Joel, takes on a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?
I believe we are put here on Earth for a purpose and have a predestined death date. Once that purpose is fulfilled, God takes us back. As humans, we are conditioned to seek tangible answers for the why’s. Yes, we have our faith—but to an extent—then our natural instincts kick in and we need concrete tangible answers. My dad used to say to me, “why—is just a crooked letter”, as I think he got tired of my endless search for answers. Unfortunately, this is the one why we will never have an answer to. At least for now.
THEN THE HELL WITH GOD!
How many of you have said that? After the loss of my husband, I was being pushed to go to healing masses, church, and talks with my priest. I had no interest in any of it as I was struggling with my need for that concrete, tangible answer—and my faith. So I finally said what I was truly feeling, and I blurted it out “FUCK GOD!”
And it felt good. So I yelled it again and again at the top of my lungs. I stood there screaming those two words as loud as I could. And when I was depleted, I stood there for a moment until it came over me in waves—the guilt of having said them. Standing alone they are seemingly two innocent words. Put together and it’s blasphemy–”Thou shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain!” It left me with heartache. No answers, confusion, loss of faith and guilt.
I’m from a religious family. I was raised with church on Sunday’s and I taught Catholic religion classes—Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, known as “CCD”—in my teens. My children went to Catholic school, also taught CCD, were altar servers…you get the picture. Losing my faith was not something that I imagined I could do. After I lost my husband, I continued going to Mass every Sunday, but I just sat there looking at that Cross. “Blah Blah Blah”, I could recite the whole Mass, both sides—the priest and the churchgoers–by heart. My oldest daughter was the first to stop attending Mass, followed shortly by my youngest. I held out for a little while longer, but eventually stopped too.
One morning as I was mindlessly flipping the television channels, I came across Joel Osteen. Something he said caught my attention, and I started listening. I found myself tuning in every Sunday. Hey, he is making sense, it’s like he is talking to me about the why. A friend turned me onto his book, Your Best Life Now, 7 Steps To Living At Your Full Potential. Well folks, it was like a jolt to my system. The book isn’t about the loss of someone, but about you–the person you are going to be. I slowly began to get my faith back because I was getting ME back. In Joel’s book, I started to heal—as it guided me towards decisions—for answering “who AM I to be NOW?” I started calling this phase Chapter II.
If you’re asking yourself, “Can I ever get relief to the why?” You may, if you look hard enough.
I now understand why God took my son Anthony, and my husband Rob, when he did (and not on 9/11 as he could have). Anthony would have been a special needs child. God knew I would have enough to deal with raising my two young girls and taking care of my elderly sick dad. And for Rob, he wasn’t done with what he had to do here; he had eight more years to fulfill. Is it naïve to think this? Maybe, but you will find that it’s in these little answers, that may bring you some inner peace. While I still don’t go to church—for completely unrelated reasons—I have my faith back and I truly believe we have our lives mapped out.
So what am I’m trying to say here? It’s okay to be angry with God or lose your faith. It is a natural emotion, and God forgives. He understands. Some of you may never get your faith back—and that too is okay—while some of you may find faith for the first time.
I choose to believe that there is, in fact, a concrete tangible answer to why and I will find out when it’s my time to cross that bridge.
I’ll leave you with this quote, from John Green, The Fault Within Our Stars, “You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful”.
Until next week…