Spiritually Speaking

Reprinted from Dec. 21, 2021

Question: My wife and I have been neighbors with a man (I’ll call Paul) for 40 years. We both bought our houses at the same time and became good friends. We attended the same church and our kids were friends as well.

Three years ago, Paul’s wife passed away from cancer. Now Paul won’t go to church, even though his adult children have urged him to on several occasions. Paul’s reasoning is he’s mad at God for letting his wife die. She was the love of his life.

Even though we think we understand his grief and feelings, we believe going back to church will help him. Please give us some ideas on how to talk to him. ~ Sympathetic Neighbors


Dear Sympathetic Neighbors,

It’s wonderful that your neighbor has such caring friends such as yourselves. It’s only natural that when we see our friends going through sadness we want to help them move through it quickly and get on with life. A church community can be a wonderful way to find meaning and belonging and thereby help us get beyond a sense of loss and hopelessness that we are facing; but remember, supporting a friend means loving them exactly as they are, not as we want them to be. We may think we know what is the best for them but they may need to go through the phases of grief that they are experiencing in order to grow into a sense of peace about losing their loved one. If you have ever seen a butterfly struggling in a chrysalis, you know that the struggle helps them build the strength necessary to get to their next realization.

In the book, “On Death and Dying,” Elizabeth Kubler Ross defines the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining (guilt) depression and acceptance. In it she explains that there is no time limit to the grieving process and that each person deals with the various stages of grief in their own way. You might suggest this book to your friend to give him insight into what he is experiencing and to know that he is not alone in his feelings. Anger is not only a normal reaction, but also a part of the healing process. His argument with God is a personal one and growing beyond his anger is one that he alone will have to come to terms with. The love and support of his friends and church community will be helpful but a relationship with God is an inside job. No one can find God for us.

In Religious Science, the formula for moving beyond a problem is to detach from the issue – take your mind off the problem and put your mind on God, knowing that your faith will bring you out of any darkness you are experiencing. Our thoughts create an energetic vibration that brings to us experiences at the level of our thinking energy. That does not mean don’t feel what you’re feeling, but don’t dwell on it. There is a spirit that resides in each of us, the knower, which provides a spiritual solution to every problem. When we center ourselves in both thought and feeling to realize the divine presence within we will find peace.

Let your friend know of your loving support and be available to listen to him exactly where he is. Remind him that it is important to remember our loved ones who have died with more love than pain. Let him know that when he leans into the divine presence within, despite the anger, sadness and turmoil he is experiencing, the God he is wrestling with will bring him peace the moment he seeks it. 

In Light,

Rev. Mary Morgan


Dear Sympathetic Neighbors,

Paul is fortunate to have a neighbor like you. God clearly brought you together certainly for such a time as this. People get mad at God all the time. God understands this. He thinks the heartaches we suffer in this life are real and difficult. Since you’ve asked for some ideas, let me give you several: 1) Invite your old friend over regularly. Have dinner. Show God’s love to him. God has not left him alone. He sent you! 2) Connect Paul with other widowers at the church. They can play golf or cards or have regular lunches together. There are lots of men who are going through what Paul is going through. 3) Losing a life-long spouse is so very hard; often professional help is in order. There is nothing in the world like a skillful Christian grief counselor. Encourage Paul to make an appointment today! Do some homework and supply Paul with some names and numbers. 4) It might be wise to have a conversation with Paul and ask him if staying away from church is what his wife would have wanted. I suspect we all know the answer to that. 5) We recall on Good Friday the death of a famous Son. God also knows what it’s like to lose a loved one. But God knew that his grief would be temporary because Jesus would be raised from the dead. This is at the core of what church is all about. Doesn’t Paul share the same resurrection hope for his wife? In the prayer of Jesus before his crucifixion in John chapter 17, He says something no one ever talks about. He says He wants those who are His to be with Him where he is, that they might see His glory. Paul’s wife was with him for a long time. Now, for a while, Paul and his wife are separated but Paul’s wife is seeing the glory of Jesus in paradise. How wrong is it that Jesus should now enjoy the sweet fellowship that He has been waiting for, for so long? Paul and his wife will be reunited soon enough. For now, could Paul share his wife with Jesus in paradise for a while?

God’s view on the death of his believers is different from ours. We find in Psalm 116 a wake up call on the subject of death: “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Life in this world is not all about us. It’s about God and his glory. And that’s what Paul’s wife now enjoys, the glory of God.

Jon Karn WEB 72

Rev. Jon T. Karn