View Full Version : Grief

April 5th, 2008, 11:13 PM
Just curious... and the question comes straight out:

How does pantheism comfort you? Is it in that it just doesn't disappoint you, or are there actually warm fuzzies to be found?

As you all know, I've been grieving for a while now. First Basha died, as you all read, and now my sweet dog Tika, a companion to whom I was so strongly connected, is also gone. Pantheism, while reminding me that I believe in the cycles of life and death, is doing little, really, to soothe my pain. Being able to rationalize that this is What Is does nothing to dull the hurt that comes from knowing my dear one suffered and died.

All my logic, as expressed in my previous posts, goes out the window with my human emotion. And thinking of my belief in What Is, while providing security in knowing I won't be disappointed by false promises, does not really provide anything for me that helps me move through the pain. I have to do that on my own, working with what connection I have, spiritually, with my loved ones who are lost. Just not being disappointed isn't really enough for me. It's like saying that, yes, the glass is half empty, but at least it isn't three-quarters empty. That's just not satisfying enough, you know?

I always get annoyed with people who look at the most pragmatic (to me, read negative) view, because that view can't hope for anything for fear of the disappointment. My looking at the universe as not offering any better is like I've given up on the potential... do you know what I mean? And I know that view is colored by my own experience--that others don't see it the same way. But that is how I feel, and I have to acknowledge it.

Ultimately, through this miniature ramble, I'm asking: How do you all deal with grief? What gets you through it?


April 6th, 2008, 08:19 AM
Grief hurts, it's real.

I don't know that there is a warm fuzzy aspect of Pantheism that will soothe the pain. I also don't believe in using logic to try to make the pain go away, to talk ourselves out of the pain...if the pain is real. It hurts that you lost your beloved friends/companions, the fact that you have other friends in your life does not stop you missing them. The fact that you will probably, in your life, find other amazing friends, does not stop the pain of losing these.

Those things are true. It is also true that you will move through this pain. That you will learn to adjust to life without them and the energy in your life will be redistributed. It is true that this loss, as huge as it is, is not the only thing in your life, that in spite of the pain, there are other things, good things to be enjoyed. Unless you are so gripped in pain that you are truly unable to enjoy anything. If that is the case then you might need some outside assistance to get through this. The situation might be too acute to handle on your own.

I know I sound like a robot when what you want is a warm friend, but I can't sugar coat Pantheism to try to make it provide what it doesn't.

What I can tell you is this, when I began to practice Pantheism, and had to always conciously apply it to my perspective, I often felt it fell short. I wanted "someone" looking out for me, I wanted the promises, I wanted to be able to believe that fairy tales were true. Now, years down the line, living every day as a Pantheist, and it being more automatic, I don't long for the warm fuzzies and promises the way I once did. There is something else going on, in some ways a comfort before the fact.

My understanding of my connection on a moment by moment basis affects everything. When I pray "This, and this, and this too is life" I am reminded that everything is part of What Is, and my relationship to the things and situations is altered by that awareness. It alters it while I am with them, and when I am no longer with them. I can't easily explain how, and to others it may seem like I have become "resigned", but it feels very different, not like resignation at all, but like a deeper knowing.

I call it living the paradox, experiencing the paradox.

I used to, when I felt overwhelming love for something, immediately think of how sad I'd be when I lost that thing, then, I had to tell myself a story to keep from already feeling the pain...before the loss even occured! I didn't trust the system, I had to imagine a "better" system and convince myself it was true.

Now, that knowing, that trust of the system comes into play. Yes, loss hurts, sometimes unbearably and unbelievably so, but it is only part of the picture. I know that I will move through it, because that is What Is. I don't have to fear it prematurely, I don't have to hurry it away when it occurs, I just live it, the same way I live joy, love, anticipation, dissappointment...they are all valid, real, and part of life. It is fine to feel them when they occur, and fine to let them go when they go. It is fine to feel joy even when I am grieving, and feel grief even when something joyful is going on in my life.

Pantheism has comforted me by freeing me from a compulsion (aggravated by my culture) to feel good and fear any other feelings. I used to be terrified of feelings. They contort our faces and our lives into something unrecognizable, they make us act in unpredictable ways. My culture allows them, only in small doses, and dictates what is appropriate and how long they think it should last, and has all sorts of ways of hiding, drugging and talking people out of feeling their feelings if they stray outside the lines.

Pantheism allows me to feel, it says "This is how this feels", and allows me to have that experience, without alot of the fear and judgement that I used to deal with.

Pain still hurts, it may actually hurt more than before, but it is no longer a stranger to be terrified of. I can sit with it more comfortably, get to know it, honor it for what it is...not a horrible thing to be gotten through as quickly as possible, but part of life, with something to say to me. I'm no longer terrified that it is going to swallow me, or that it means something is wrong with me, or that if I let myself feel it...it will take over my life and keep me from feeling anything else.

That is the paradox, we can and do feel more than one feeling at a time. I was taught that "negative" feelings are scary, because if you start to feel one, if you give in, that's it...you will no longer be able to feel anything else, you have to fight it. But I know the truth now, just like I can feel a stab of dissappointment on a great day, I can feel a thrust of joy on a lousy one. I know now, that I will move through pain, the way I move through all my feelings.

It is not a judgement or condemnation, it is not the new totality of my life, it is a feeling, a normal reaction, and I will have other ones too...because that is What Is.

So yes, Pantheism comforts me, but not through the sort of promises and warm fuzzies that some other philosophies depend on. And I had to live it awhile, and apply a bit of faith to get the comfort. I had to take it at its word, test it out, live it for awhile to experience the comfort.

It doesn't make the pain less, sometimes I feel the pain more...but it is more bearable to me.

In my old way of living, I can see how sometimes I held onto pain when I didn't need to. I thought that it honored someone or something or some other screwy thing. My entire relationship to pain was different then, it was treated as something bizarre, scary and powerful..handled like TNT. It was definitely not considered a normal part of life, so I was either trying to avoid it, or obsessively holding onto it in some weird internal power play, because it was so loaded.

Now I feel that I deal with it more authentically, more honestly, because I don't have to fear it so much. I feel the pain, but not the fear of the pain, which made the pain even worse.

I had a rabbit named Perfection. He passed away a few years ago. I still miss him. His death was painful to me. When I want him now, and he is not there, it is still painful. It is not all there is to my life, and even when he died, and the pain was fresh, my Pantheism told me, yes, this is pain, but it is not all there is to life. And on some level that made me angry, I WANTED it, at that time to be all there was in my life. I wanted to honor Perfection by totally losing myself to the pain...but it didn't happen. I still felt all my other feelings, and I still saw good things happening, and I still had awe for the Universe. And I didn't have to tell myself stories of how amazing my relationship with Perfection was, and how painful losing him was and how I might never have another animal companion that matched up to him etc. etc. etc. I trusted my faith...I felt what I felt and didn't try to force my feelings in either direction. The loss didn't devistate me the way I thought it would, the way others thought it would.

So, yes, Pantheism helps me deal with stuff, but not in the expected ways, not in the ways my culture tells me I should deal with them, not in the ways I used to want a faith to help me. But it does help, in its way.

I don't know what kind of answer you were looking for. I don't have any advice except to tell you what I tell myself every day...don't make this out to be more or less than it is. Don't apply layers of meaning and significance beyond what is already there in an effort to 'make sense' of it, just live it and allow it to tell you what it means, to be what it is.


April 6th, 2008, 08:35 PM
Thank you, Cheddar. That's a good, long, well-thought-out--and more importantly, well-experienced--answer.

I don't know that I'm looking for anything specific. Just comfort. And you offered it. You're right, it's not the conventional type, but it is.

I will think on it.

Again, thank you.


April 8th, 2008, 04:32 PM

I can't offer you as much of a response as cheddar has already given. Being much newer to Pantheism, I'm still sorting through a lot of these issues myself. Sometimes I get so angry that there's no happily-forever-and-ever-after for me to believe in, no story that tells me I will be reunited with the beloveds I lose.

And, strangely, that, too is part of Pantheism's gift to me. Like cheddar says, this religion frees me to feel what I feel, when I feel it, and to not automatically reject those emotions that society at large regards as "bad." Some days, I want to push through my anguish and begin to heal myself. Other days, I just want to sit with my agony, rail with it, scream and cry and throw things with it. Pantheism recognizes that all of this is sacred.

Healing is not a linear process. Some weeks, every day will feel a little better. Some weeks feel like back to square zero. Pantheism may not have easy answers for these pains - heck, it may not have any answers at all - but it at least returns full control of your grief to you, so that, maybe, when the hardest of the hard times are over, you might draw some measure of comfort from knowing that you mourned your furbabies fully, in your own time, and in your own way.

Sionnach le Fey
April 10th, 2008, 09:01 AM
The comfort Pantheism brings me is quite simple; no matter what bad things happen in my life, no matter how awful I feel, the world still turns. My and my boyfriend broke up today (we were together just over 13 months) and I am heartbroken. But this doesn't stop the Earth from turning, or the birds singing, or the clouds floating across the sky. There's more to life than what I suffer, and I think that's beautiful. Just like the foliage on the trees, our relationship has gone through its cycle, and luckily we ended it on positive terms.

April 10th, 2008, 01:47 PM
The comfort Pantheism brings me is quite simple; no matter what bad things happen in my life, no matter how awful I feel, the world still turns. There's more to life than what I suffer, and I think that's beautiful.

Thanks, Silver Nightfire. That's a beautiful way to think of it.

I often am in that place, too. And yes, it is comforting to see the sun shining down at me each morning.

On the other hand, I have many days, particularly the more difficult ones (yesterday is a good example), when I want the world to stop because of my grief. I have to keep going to work every day, keep getting up in the morning in order to pay my bills... but I'm just so worn out I need a time out. On those days, knowing that the world is still going on around me, oblivious to my loss, is not at all a comfort. I wish it could be.

None of this diminishes my belief that pantheism is the path that supports me through all of this. But it's nice to know I've found a belief system in which part of what I believe is that sometimes my beliefs don't really serve me emotionally. And like Cheddar says, that's okay. It is What Is.


April 10th, 2008, 02:53 PM
Thanks, Silver Nightfire.

On the other hand, I have many days, particularly the more difficult ones (yesterday is a good example), when I want the world to stop because of my grief. I have to keep going to work every day, keep getting up in the morning in order to pay my bills... but I'm just so worn out I need a time out. On those days, knowing that the world is still going on around me, oblivious to my loss, is not at all a comfort. I wish it could be.


Boy, is that the truth. Sometimes it feels like we are being ground in the wheels of a big machine, churning away, oblivious to our needs and troubles. Seems like no comfort at all...

but yet it is.

For me.

I would be terrified, horrified if I was so powerful that the world stopped turning because of the affairs of my life. The responsibility would crush me more than my own pain and vulnerablity.

The fact that it goes on , is, at a deeper level more comfort to me than if it stopped for my grief, etc. I know this now. Once I did not.

Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night, and somehow my husband and I got to talking about life changing/perspective changing events. And he told me about Thorough having such an experience while in jail, and watching the world turn without him.

I had such an experience. Incarcerated, but not in prison. And at first I was offended that the world went on without me, in spite of my grief, what a slap in the face!

Then...my life changed...and I KNEW pantheism was true. And I was honored and awed and grateful that the world went on without me, and I am honored and awed and grateful that it goes on when others are suffering, because I cannot bear to stop and grieve everyone's losses. The anonymity is a gift, the lack of response a blessing.

IF...we have people, pets, spirits, etc to Be the heart that the Universe is not. If when we whistle, a bird whistles back. If when we cry, the ground sips in our tears, if when we bleed, the tiny flies gather to drink the blood and remind us that we are NOT alone, forgotten or insignificant.

I used to demand my God to respond one way, and cursed when He did not. Now I am more humble, and held fast in the arms of the entire Universe, that turns with or without me, but saw fit to manifest me anyway.