By the time I was 40, I had attended more than 1,000 funerals, wakes and viewings. As a child, I learned quickly to fear and to hate death. My father was diagnosed with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, when I was eight. As his ability to walk lessened over the years, I became his primary caregiver. While in junior high school, I would take the longest route home to avoid being the first one home, for fear of being the one to find my father dead. Fearing both his death, as well as my own, terrorized me for years.
My father eventually made his transition in 2002. Two of my brothers made their transitions in 2007 and 2016, and my mother in 2020 due to Alzheimer’s. Over the years, I have been confronted by many New Thought folks who are quite adamant in their refusal to see grieving as a healing journey. Some people changed the name from of a support group from the Depression Support Group to the Sunshine Group, using the rationale that you cannot reference the illness or condition, but rather you have to say what you are for. We do a huge disservice to ourselves, our communities, our world when we deny people the healing space to grieve. What methods and tools do we have in New Thought to help people through the grieving process? Western culture has made death a sterile, distant, even avoidable thing. Being around a grieving person makes many of us uncomfortable. And yet there is a Powerful Gift in being present in our discomfort while allowing another to experience their grief.
Dr. Raymond Anderson
Center for Spiritual Living of Greater Baltimore