Healing the Grieving Heart

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Jansen, Pati
Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology
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.