I was reminded again at a recent Death Café that New Aged Spiritual beliefs can be a real avoidance or bypass around our very human life. It doesn’t matter whether these beliefs are right or wrong, what matters is their usefulness in the moment – their artful application.
Here is the story.
A woman was relating the story of the loss of her 5-year old son who was killed by a motorist in a hit and run accident. The motorist was never charged. The woman was deeply angry, hurt, and guilty. The accident happened many years ago and yet in the story telling it felt as if it were yesterday.
It was raw, real, and uncomfortable. It was a powerful share others were moved by. The discomfort was actually instructive and was helping people learn some very human lessons. At the same time this very discomfort was shaking people up to the point they felt they had to do something other than feel it all, be thankful for it all, and let it be so.
Yep out came the new age ‘stuff’. “Well I know he is in a free and safe place and that he is happy.” “We are more than just our body, we are a spirit that experiences many lives.” And so on. All well intended no doubt and each person that was speaking these notions really believes in them and believed their sharing them would be helpful. “Practice peaceful acceptance and you will feel better tomorrow.”
What these well-intentioned folks didn’t see or didn’t get was their words of encouragement – their beliefs – were not being helpful in the least. The woman sharing was in a deeply human place of pain and loss and all this talk of her son being in a better place whether true or not, was not of any help to her in this very raw human moment. Truth seemed to me to be that those folks trying their best to be helpful were subconsciously avoiding the discomfort of this deeply human loss.
These beliefs or tools may well be valid, this is not the issue at hand. What is the issue is welcoming, allowing, accepting, this very healthy, natural, raw, personal human expression of grief and loss as the uncomfortable gift is truly is. The individual sharing was not broken and did not need to be fixed or made to feel better which is what we do when we don’t want to feel the intensity of emotions.
Better approach – breath, receive the emotional share, stay as open as you can, and relax into your own feelings of discomfort. Using new age spirituality to avoid your own discomfort in an odd way is abusive of the raw human emotional experience being shared.
There is a time and place for all beliefs. The artistry is to know when to share them.