Death ends a life, but not a relationship.
-Jack Lemmon

From "Violent TV, Religion and Death, and Wise Sayings," by Sharon Linnéa:

Psychologists have found that people who have a very strong religious faith react more profoundly to the death of loved ones than those with no faith at all. The study-which included 169 college students of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths, as well as nonbelievers-discovered that religious people had "more of a disruption in their beliefs and goals after the death of someone close to them," reports Crystal L. Park, assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Connecticut. They also became more depressed in the weeks and months immediately following the death than their non-believing counterparts. This included a questioning of God, a questioning of their beliefs, and a wrestling with their own worldview.

The good news seemed to be that after six months or so, the pain had lessened significantly for those with beliefs in God, and most reported their faith had deepened and the death of their loved one had matured and strengthened them. "Over time, as people are making meaning from their loss, these negative effects disappear or are even reversed, suggesting a positive association between religion and long-term adjustment," she adds.

By the end of the first year, those with religious faith were more likely to report that they were pleased with their lives, and that they had rethought their goals and priorities and had made "positive changes" as a result of dealing with the death. "Religious faith ultimately serves as a meaning system, in which the bereaved can reframe their loss, and move on in positive ways," found Professor Park.

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Also on Beliefnet:

  • Prayers for Those Coping With Loss

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