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Deconstruction and Death

Question & Answer


Q: By Kim

How does a Christian who thinks she is on the Spiritual/Interfaith path – evolving, becoming, opening evermore – deal with the death of a loved one rooted in “traditional” Christian ideas about The Afterlife? I find myself desperately hoping there is a physical Heaven – a childhood concept that I thought I had moved beyond;  because I want to hold Dad’s hand again someday, and I want to believe he is with my cousin and dear friends who have died. It suddenly feels more secure and yet non-existent. I am surprised, saddened, and grieving (thank goodness).

A: By Kevin G. Thew Forrester, PhD

Dear Kim,

I feel the sadness, perhaps connected to a sense of loss, in your questions. Isn’t it amazing that we can “think” we are on a path and want to “believe” something, but our heart and body are in other places? The path we are actually on is the one we are experiencing in our body. And this is neither right nor wrong. It simply is what is. Neurologically we now know that for all the signals sent from the neurons in our head down to our body, that number is dwarfed by the stream of neurological traffic upwards from the body to the head. In other words, it is a losing battle, and it does indeed feel like a battle, to convince our heart and body that reality is different than our experience. You are on a Spiritual/Interfaith path, which is richer and more mysterious than our mind can conceive.

Where I invite you to begin is with your experience of sadness and loss. This experience is much more than a thought – it is sacred and fertile ground for you. Begin with where you experience the sadness/loss in your body. Follow that thread of your experience, by sensing/feeling into it. For example, you might discover that there is tightness in your solar plexus. The head will want to solve and judge and categorize. But practice being curious. Honor your not knowing. Practice simply honoring and holding. See where your soulful-attention is led; that is what I mean by following the thread of your experience. Respect, also, your sense of want, honor it, and sense into its origin in your experience. Let your mind drop down into your heart and body and be guided by your heart-centered curious inquiry. This takes courage, for you will move in, through, and beyond beliefs which are held out of fear. And oddly, “hope” often takes us away from our present experience and trusting in that experience to teach and guide us. Holy Hope is the realization that in the Present, which is the Reign of God, there is present what you need. In this spiritual practice you won’t be egoically vanquishing fear, or getting what you want; you won’t be trying to stake out a position ahead of time. What you will be doing is trusting your own experience and touching what it is your soul is longing for. Who knows what you will discover as you courageously trust? Perhaps there will be the realization that there is already a connection with your Dad that is deeper and sweeter than anything your mind might imagine.

~ Kevin G. Thew Forrester, PhD

About the Author
Kevin G. Thew Forrester, Ph.D. is an Episcopal priest, a student of the Diamond Approach for over a decade, as well as a certified teacher of the Enneagram in the Narrative Tradition. He is the founder of the Healing Arts Center of St. Paul’s Church in Marquette, Michigan, and the author of five books, including I Have Called You Friends, Holding Beauty in My Soul’s Arms, and My Heart is a Raging Volcano of Love for You and Beyond my Wants, Beyond my Fears: The Soul’s Journey into the Heartland. Visit Kevin’s Blog: Essential Living: For The Soul’s Journey.

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