A major loss can challenge your sense of certainty in your belief
system and religious faith. You may find yourself examining many of your values
and beliefs, including the purpose of life, death, suffering, and whether there
is a higher power. Alternately, you may gain comfort, courage, and hope from
your religious beliefs during this time.
It is important to distinguish between religion and
Two doctor/brothers, Joel and Ian Gold, have identified symptoms of a mental illness unique to our times: the Truman Show delusion, named for the 1998 movie that starred Jim Carrey as a suburbanite whose movements were filmed 24/7 and broadcast to the world. The two say a handful of individuals are convinced they are stars of an imaginary reality show.
Though limited, their findings are creating a buzz in the media and the psychiatric community: Is it possible that reality TV is shaping delusions?
Religion is a system of faith and worship of a
divine being. There are many different types of religions. All religions have
certain beliefs, practices, and rituals.
Spirituality is one's
personal connection with and questions about the deepest meanings or powers
governing life. Some people express their spirituality through their religion.
Others may have a system of values and beliefs that does not include worship of
a divine being.
There are some ways you can help yourself when you are questioning
the purpose of life, death, and suffering.
Be clear about your feelings. Are you feeling unsure about your religious belief system? Are
you angry because you have different beliefs from those of your religion? Are
you feeling empty because you do not have a belief system that answers your
Allow yourself the right to question. You may feel uncomfortable when you have questions that do not
seem to have answers. Give yourself permission to say, "I don't have the answer
for that right now," or "I don't know why this happened." Saying this instead
of making up an answer or giving someone else's answer is often the first step
in discovering what you truly believe.
Talk with someone you trust. Talk with someone who will listen to your concerns
and will not try to answer your questions for you. If you talk about it, what is
bothering you may become more clear and you may find the answers you are
Find a way to handle the feelings that arise. Are you angry with a higher power? Do you want to make a deal
with a higher power as a way to avoid further distress and sadness? Are you
frustrated with your feelings of helplessness? Do you feel guilty? It is
important to recognize your feelings and handle them in the way that helps you
Find answers to your questions about religious beliefs. If you are confused about a specific religious
belief, ask someone who knows the answer. Talk with a clergy person. Read
religious books or texts.
List your sources of spiritual (or religious) comfort or practices. What gives you comfort in
times of questioning? Do you feel the need to be alone or with other people?
Are there practices in your religion that you have not done in some time and
would like to try again? If needed, talk with someone who can help you list and
do some of the things you choose to do.
If you or someone you know is having trouble addressing religious or
spiritual questions that arise while
grieving, talk with a clergy person or a licensed
counselor, social worker, or psychologist. Pastoral counseling, which combines
the spiritual expertise of a member of the clergy with the skills of a licensed
counselor, may be helpful. You can also ask your local librarian to recommend books that can help address your spiritual questions.