A number of years ago St. Anthony Hospital in Effingham implemented “Healing the
Grieving Heart,” a support group for those experiencing the loss of loved ones. It is a
time limited program sponsored by the Community Outreach department of the hospital
and facilitated by the Pastoral Care department. My good friend, Marie Sandshafer, is
one of the hospital chaplains who has led this program over the years. She repeatedly
commented that people are drawn to the group because of the loss of a loved one, but
once they begin the group spiritual issues often surface. They are often angry with God.
They are also often angry at organized religion, or with religious leaders who have given
them information that is contrary to their experience. Sometimes the cause is their own
misunderstanding, but on occasion it is because they have received some very bad
information. These people have experienced what the Whitehead’s would describe as a
neurotic crisis (PP. 49-52). In some cases, however, it is more a developmental crisis
gone awry because of circumstances. Other times it is a true neurotic crisis and must be
met as such.