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The Spiritual Crisis of Grief

"Grief is surely a transformative place where we are stripped of our ideas of who we thought we were, how we thought things were, and how life was 'supposed to be.'" -Karla Helbert, Yoga for Grief and Loss

I preface this post by sharing that I grew up Catholic, with a Catholic mom and a Jewish dad. Religion is no stranger to me, but my relationship with it has certainly shifted over time. At a young age I had a curiosity that lead me to start religious at the church we went to. Over time, the curiosity turned to discomfort and I felt organized religion wasn't for me. I still feel that way most days, but that's a conversation for a different time.

As Karla Helbert writes, grief is a spiritual crisis. The suffering of an immense loss leads us to either question God and our faith, or turn the faithless towards God. Or does it? What about those who land somewhere more in the middle?

I hadn't examined my relationship with a higher power or really thought about my belief system for years, and then Leo died. I found myself a bit disgusted with the phrase "it was God's will," and at the same time I had this innate knowing that Leo's soul is somewhere, and that I will see him again when the time comes. I believe he's with my grandparents, I believe he's with his sister's (middle) namesake. I picture them all together in a world much like this one. Actually, I think it might be this one, but beyond a veil we can't see past.

Still, I felt uncomfortable using the term "spirituality", I felt awkward praying. I felt that I had to be one or the other, I either had to renounce religion and never pray or feel spiritual or anything related, or I had to embrace God and start going to church again. Or maybe synagogue.

Enter, yoga. More specifically, yoga teacher training. For years I had contemplated participating and Leo gave me the kick that I needed. I am eternally grateful. I spent seven weekends immersed in the poses and connecting with the most beautiful individuals I have ever met. That space was where I was able to find comfort in spirituality and really explore what it meant to me. Sitting in meditation, tapping in to my innermost wisdom was the best space to get to know my spiritual self.

Now prayer and I are friends. I don't say "God" but I do think in terms of the Universe. I believe there are sacred contracts, things written in the stars whether or not we consciously agree to them. I don't believe "it was God's will" that Leo died, but I do believe that he and I were always meant to be together. He was always supposed to be my first born baby boy, he was always supposed to teach me the lessons I learned and continue to grow within.

Alexi Pappas writes in her book Bravey, "Life never serves you the lessons you need in the way you might imagine you'd receive them, but the lessons are nonetheless there, even if they are embedded in blood."

Have you experienced a spiritual crisis? How did you come out of it? What were you curious about? What did you learn? How has the journey transformed over time?

My journey has continued to evolve even since originally writing this blog post. One of the greatest lessons I have learned through Leo's short life and death is the lesson of impermanence. Though I still have to remind myself of it, I know nothing lasts and I know it's a wonderful thing to grow, evolve, and change as the days go on.

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