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Coping with Death and Its Grief

Research shows that 10-15 percent of people who have lost someone dear to them suffer depression; the rest cope well, even though the loss never leaves them, according George Bonanno, psychologist and author of "The Other Side of Sadness." Bonanno believes humans are biologically wired to cope with death and its grief. Nevertheless, for some the trauma can call into doubt their assumptions about the basic goodness of God and the meaningfulness of life. For others, crisis and loss help strengthen faith, and they find that religious rituals help make grief endurable. For most people, the experience of loss and mourning changes their attitudes and, often, their lives. Survivors re-evaluate their priorities and daily activities and behaviors, and often find a new cause or pathway, one that helps them find added meaning from the death of a loved one, says correspondent Robert Faw, in a 10 1/2-minute news video prepared for Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, a source for cutting edge news reporting and analysis of the religious world. Our associated website and its book "Practicing Our Faith" includes a section on "Dying Well," which examines the Christian practice of dying in a way that "embraces both lament and hope, and both a sense of divine judgment and awareness of divine mercy," and asks penetrating reflection questions to help individuals and faith communities discover their faith resources for negotiating death and the loss and grief it causes. For more about spiritual practices see our feature article, "Best Resources on Spiritual Practices."

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