People of faith don’t always accept their losses quietly and calmly. A faithful person’s heartaches and pains hurt them just as much as someone who doesn’t count on spirituality or religion in their lives. When someone you love dies, grief is a natural reaction to loss no matter what you believe in.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Why Do People Question Their Faith or God After a Death or Tragedy?
- How to Regain Your Faith After the Death of a Loved One
Getting angry at God and questioning your faith after your loved one's death is also very normal as part of the struggle to make sense of their death.
Religion can be incredibly comforting at times of loss, especially when you feel devastated and broken inside. But it can also leave you confused with a profound sense of emptiness when your beliefs can’t help you acknowledge or accept your loss.
Why Do People Question Their Faith or God After a Death or Tragedy?
Blaming your faith or God for the death of someone you love is a natural reaction to grief. It's normal for people to go through spiritual trials after suffering loss, question their faith, and go through denial and anger at God as they try to reconcile their grief.
Grief can cause you to confuse your feelings toward your faith and religion as the death of your loved one brings about a crisis of faith.
How to Regain Your Faith After the Death of a Loved One
A faith crisis can happen to anyone at any time, but even more so when they’ve lost someone they love. Regaining your faith after tragedy and loss requires you to reconnect with your beliefs and your higher power. Healing, reflection, and prayer are all a part of the process to get you back on track to finding solace and comfort in what you once relied on to get you through.
Even with all that work to reconnect, you may never find your way back to the level of spiritual devotion you may have enjoyed before your loved one’s death. You can expect to go through many different emotional ups and downs and feel a particular spiritual turmoil for some time.
The following may help you reclaim your faith when your soul needs healing most.
1. Give yourself time to heal
Anyone who has lost a loved one has a long and challenging journey ahead of them toward healing. The first few days and weeks after suffering a loss, you can expect yourself to shut down emotionally and withdraw from others. Be patient with yourself when you’re mourning the death of your loved one.
This is a terribly sad and painful experience in your life that will take time to heal from. The grief process will take you through stages where you’ll lose and regain your faith. Give yourself time to work through your grief.
2. Reflect on your grief
Grief will strike you in some of the most unexpected ways. You’ll go from feeling numb after someone you love dies, crying uncontrollably, to shouting in anger at the top of your lungs.
The expression of these emotions is necessary as you reflect on your grief. Not only are tears cleansing and healing, but the unleashing of bottled up emotions will help you progress through your grief.
Take the time needed to be with yourself in your grief. Think about all the reasons why you’ve lost your faith, and meditate on them. You don’t need to pressure yourself to find the answers.
Hope is the foundation of faith and religion. Prayer is the act of asking for help or guidance in your time of need. Offering up some prayers helps you connect with the divine, and to connect with your higher power. When you take time out for prayer, even when you’re not feeling confident in your faith, you’re making an effort to connect to your faith and a higher power.
Prayer helps heal you and can lift you out of depression and anger. If you can’t find it in you to pray, consider repeating grief affirmations to get you through your sorrow.
4. Accept your anger
It is important to remember that anger and confusion after the death of a loved one are normal and healthy grief reactions. During these moments you may find yourself lashing out at God questioning, “How can you do this to me? Why have you forsaken me?”
Feelings of anger can sometimes stem from feeling betrayed by your faith and higher power. It’s not uncommon to be incredibly angry, especially in the beginning. To make progress with your grief, you’ll need to face your pain. Anger can be a positive emotion that propels you toward healing.
5. Talk to God
God understands your pain and wants you to express how you feel, even when you’re feeling angry. You may start to question the purpose of everything after your loss.
Asking God directly for answers and praying for the strength to see you through your grief will help you begin to make sense of why things had to happen the way they did. You may not get all the answers that you’re looking for, but opening up a dialogue with your higher power will give you some peace and comfort as you grieve your loss.
6. Let others believe for you
When you lean on your faith and beliefs, you may be looking for and wanting serenity. Instead, you go through several stages of grief and rough emotion before you can accept your loss and regain peace. During this time, it’s essential that you ask for and receive others’ help when needed.
Ask your congregation or those of your friends who are spiritual to pray for you. Ask them to carry your weight until you’re strong enough to walk alone in your faith. If this means accepting their help with your household, taking care of personal chores for you, or holding special prayer circles, accept their help with grace and gratitude. There may come a time when someone else will ask you to be that support for them.
7. Rely on your faith
Your crisis in faith will not get bolstered by reading philosophical or academic texts on grief and bereavement alone. You’ll have to choose to rely on your faith to get you through the darkest hours of your pain and suffering.
Some of the best types of reading for someone who’s lost their faith in God after a loved one dies are spiritual and religious texts that touch on people who were suffering and who were also angry and confused by God’s promises. These stories and parables talk not only of faith but of God’s love and understanding. These books can help you recognize that you’re not walking alone in your grief.
8. Seek spiritual advice
If you’re struggling with opening up to your support group and letting them in on your loss of faith, ask a trusted source for spiritual advice and guidance. You may want to go outside of your immediate religious or spiritual circle so that you feel more comfortable talking openly about your confusion and loss of faith.
An alternative to seeking advice from clergy or other religious leaders is seeking spiritual online therapy or counseling. A spiritual grief counselor is trained in advising from a religious or spiritual perspective in a grief-related context.
9. Find peace
Losing someone you love can produce a heart-wrenching pain that brings you to your knees in suffering, in some cases quite literally. Be gentle with yourself in the first few days and weeks following your loved one’s death.
It’s easy to be your own harshest critic in the early days following a loss. Try not to blame yourself, your faith, or beliefs for this loss. Sometimes there are no answers to why things had to happen the way they did. Finding peace leads to acceptance, which leads to healing.
10. Find meaning
When you’ve lost your faith, it might seem as if your life no longer has meaning. Finding a way to bring meaning to your suffering may involve sitting together with God or your higher power in prayerful contemplation of your loss.
As much as it hurts to lose the person you love, it sometimes clouds your thinking and confuses your thought process. Feeling angry at everyone and everything is unavoidable when in mourning.
11. Honor your journey
Grief can sometimes feel as if it’s a journey of brokenness and healing and back again. You’ll go through a transformation from the moment you receive the news of your loved one’s death. Expect that you’ll never be the same person you were before your loss. The best way to get past your grief is to get through it.
That journey is different for everyone. Your path toward healing may differ significantly from others that are also suffering alongside you. It is important to remember that you don’t need to compare your grief to theirs. Honor your individual journey and accept the personal changes that you’ll go through as they occur.
Losing Faith in God
The relationship between grief and belief can be a tumultuous one after the death of a loved one. Your suffering and your pain shouldn’t be separate from your faith. Losing your faith and being angry at God, followed by a reconciliation of that anger, is part of the grief cycle.
Your faith will be there to love you and understand your grief, even when your loved one’s death doesn’t make sense from an earthly perspective. In time and with the help of your support group, you’ll figure out new ways to bond with your religion after you’ve had time to work through your loss.
If you're looking for more grief resources, read our guides on delayed grief and grief and insomnia.