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ISNACON 2019 The Impact of Grief on Faith 2

Sarah Sultan

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Channel: Sarah Sultan

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Today we're talking about grief and the impact that grief can have on our faith and the way that grief can also be a source of trauma in some cases, right? The lecture, the talk today, our panel is entitled, I should have gotten over it by now. Right. And so I wanted to start I briefly covered this, if you were in the first talk, I briefly covered the different types of loss right? Here when we're talking about grief. Typically, when we talk about grief, what is the type of loss that people normally view is synonymous with grief, just call it out.

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Death, death of a loved one, right? Not just death of anybody but death of somebody that's close to our heart. That's what causes us to grieve, right? I want to expand that definition of loss a little bit, to realize that we can grieve for things other than the death of a loved one. There are so many other losses that we experience on a daily basis, and it hurts tremendously. And we don't understand why. Because we're not taught that you can grieve if somebody hasn't died, right. And so so the loss of a job, for example, if any of you experienced the recession, several years back, so many people lost their jobs, right. So what happens when you lose your job, you lose financial stability, you

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might lose the home that you have established for your family, your children might lose the home that they've grown up in, they might have to change schools, they've lost their friends and things like that, that are associated with that. A relationship, that's also an intense form of loss, not the death of somebody that then ends the relationship. Because in some ways, if you have a good relationship with someone, and they pass away, right, that's incredibly painful, because you miss them, right? But that connection still can remain in certain ways. But when you lose a relationship with somebody that you care about, and has meant so much to you, because let's say it was a marriage

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that ended up in divorce, because a person who has hurt you tremendously, or has been abusive, a friend that has betrayed you, that you fully trusted in every way. And then that has ended. All of these are forms of loss that bring up similar feelings to the death of a loved one. But people just don't get why you're so upset, and why you're so moved by it. Those are all different types of trauma that can that can really impact you. And when you don't identify it as grief, then you don't mourn, right, and you can't heal because you don't allow yourself to feel it. Because people make you assume that you shouldn't feel that, that it shouldn't be a big deal, right?

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So

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one of the ways that I think grief has a very profound impact on us and our lives, is that it changes the view that we have of ourselves. Right? So I brought up the example of an affair or, or an abusive situation, you start to quiet in a situation like that, you start to question yourself, right? Like, what what was I thinking that made me think I could trust this person, I thought I had a good judge, like I was a good judge of character, I thought I had good judgment. And suddenly, now I'm doubting that. So that part of yourself, all of a sudden is gone. Right?

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You're if you're diagnosed with like, with it with an illness, like an autoimmune illness, right? Then all of a sudden, the things that you used to be able to do so easily don't come easily anymore, that part of yourself feels like it's gone. Right? So your perception of yourself and your identity changes. And the other thing that can change too, in this process is your perception of your faith and your relationship with Allah subhana data. And that can really feel

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horrible, right? Like, this is like the one thing that I wish I could hold on to. And right now, it's shaken. Right? So So with everything else, that's that's tumultuous in your life. The one thing that you want to be consistent, also isn't there, which is your connection with all this data. And that's incredibly painful. Right? So as I'm Dr. Altaf was saying,

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grief is not an indication of your level of Amen. Right. He gave a beautiful example of the Prophet Muhammad SAW Salam who was one of the most beloved to Allah Subhana Allah the most perfect human being to walk the earth. And, you know, subhanAllah i Whenever I hear this hadith about how he grieved over the loss of his child, and

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the one of his companions came to him and was surprised and said, but you're weeping, right? Like I visibly see your see tears coming down your your eyes, I think of the wisdom of him, like Dr. Altaf was saying publicly mourning the loss of his son because it shows us that it's okay.

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And that also says LM says that the eyes grieve, right? The heart is saddened and hurt and in pain, but the mouth doesn't the tongue doesn't other other other than was pleasing to Allah pantalla. We're not held accountable here that also said, I'm telling us we're not held accountable for the tears that we shed. We're not held accountable for the shake and the shakiness that we feel in our hearts, we're held accountable for the things that we can control, which are what our limbs like what we do with our limbs, where we go, what we do, you know, if you're hurting, you don't want to hurt somebody else and like smack people around or anything, obviously, right? And what you say with

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your what would you say with your tongue, that is something that's within your control? Right? Even our thoughts Subhan Allah, which is something that is, is within our control, like in therapy, that's what we work on. Right? We work on helping people navigate their thoughts.

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Even that we're not held accountable for that also, Salam told us that that my own man is not going to be held accountable for their passing thoughts, as long as they don't utter them or act upon them. Right. So Subhan Allah, the example of the Prophet Yaqoob la salaam, when his son, Yusuf, his beloved son, who is also a prophet on a set and went missing, he cried, until his eyes turned white with grief. He was blinded Subhanallah because of how, how much he grieved for the loss of his son. And then we think that when people are not getting over it, that it's synonymous with them not having strong enough, amen.

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That's like saying that Prophet Yaqoob Allah didn't have strong enough Amen? Of course he did. And so it's not an indication of our Amen. Right? And on top of it, if this was a problem, then wouldn't Allah Samantha have sent a verse of the Quran to Rosa Salem and tell him to stop crying. But he didn't, he didn't he didn't reprimand that also set them for it, right.

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So it doesn't indicate a doubt or weakness in our hearts. So our emotions were created by Allah's passata for a purpose. And so telling ourselves that we shouldn't feel something is denying a part of ourselves that Allah's pancetta has created within us, you can't connect with all this data without feeling, right. And part of those feelings, or sometimes the feelings are not always going to be good. It's just a part of who we are.

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So when we're saying that we shouldn't experience this, this is something called it's a cognitive distortion, or an unhealthy form of thinking it's called should statements, right? So whenever you talk to yourself, and you hear yourself saying I should be more, or I shouldn't do this, or I must be this or whatever it is, those are standards that we're often holding ourselves to, that are often not realistic and demand a certain level of perfection that nobody can reach. Right? They're very rigid rules. And so it can be very unhealthy. So you know, for example, somebody who's on a diet, right? I shouldn't have eaten that. This is why nobody is going to marry me. I must not be

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attractive enough, because I shouldn't do this. Right. So these should statements that we all and I mean, who doesn't say these things? Right? We all say it. We've been taught to say these things, right? Or, you know, parents should never yell at their kids. Sometimes I yell at my child, so I must be a bad mother. No, I mean, you know, like, so these things are unrealistic expectations right. Now, in terms of grief, we tell this to ourselves, too. I should have gotten over it by now. There must be something wrong with my Eman. I must not be a good enough Muslim. If I can't stop crying because I miss my dad. Or I start I can't stop crying because that friend utterly betrayed

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me, right? There must be something wrong. Or even more sometimes we've heard like, I almost print that I just must hate me because I can't get over this. And I can't. That means I can't be content with a decree of Allah's past data, which and I you spiral and you spiral and you spiral, right? And then we also do this to people, right? Like, you know, your your best friend passed away a month ago, you should you should really be getting back on with it. You should be okay now, right? Like we do it, we and we try to placate people, right. So when we hold ourselves or other people to these unrealistic standards of how we should feel or how they should feel, then we expect a quick fix. And

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when we expect a quick fix, what do we do? We bury all of those emotions. Because if we shouldn't be feeling them, then we have to get rid of them somehow. And then we don't allow ourselves to grieve properly to heal properly. And that's where so many issues then start to develop. Right.

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The other thing that often people do that I just want to briefly mention is something called spiritual bypassing. Have any of you guys have heard of that phrase? Raise hands. Anybody heard of spiritual bypassing? Just very few. Okay, well, good. I'm glad I'm mentioning it. Okay.

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Spiritual bypassing is where you use religious ideas and practices to a

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avoid facing distress or help somebody try and quote unquote help somebody avoid facing distress. So that would be something like, Oh, you're feeling sad, you should just pray. You should just pray. Or have you really tried reading the Quran, or just just turn to Allah just turn to Allah and it's going to be, it's going to be okay. There is relevance in the encouragement. illustrata tells us that prayer brings us and brings us ease, that if we if we are thankful to him, he's going to give us more, there is absolutely relevance for this. But there's a time and place. And when somebody has just lost somebody or somebody is grieving, the idea of telling them, You should probably pray more.

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It's not the best time, because what happens then this person starts to think, oh, on top of their worry of the person they just lost or whatever they're going through their job that they just lost. On top of that worry. They're thinking, Oh, am I not praying enough? Is that why I'm feeling this way? Does is ALLAH SubhanA upset with me? And that's why these emotions are not going away. Right. And so what happens is, now there's another problem that's added on top of it, where now they're wondering if they're not a good Muslim anymore. And when they're struggling that much do you think them thinking that they're not a good Muslim? Do you think that's gonna bring them closer to Allah

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Tada, or further away?

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For their way? Right? So there's a time for this, there's a time for that.

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So we don't want to push people to question their relationship with Allah's patata during a time when they should be encouraged to turn to Him for comfort and support. You can't turn to somebody for comfort and support if you're feeling guilty that you're not doing enough for them. Right. And so that brings us to the idea of okay, well, what's healthy guilt, because there is healthy guilt

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that we should hold ourselves accountable. If we're not doing if we're, if we're not worshiping illustrata in the way we want to be if we're not being the way we want to be in our relationship with others parent data, we want to hold ourselves accountable to that and work on it. But then there's shame, which is different than healthy guilt. Shame, healthy guilt is okay. I'm not I'm feeling guilty because of a behavior, something I'm doing or not doing. Shame is, I'm feeling this way, because there's something inherently wrong with me. Right? So in when we're telling people to go and turn to Allah, when they're already trying to do that, it brings up feelings of shame, where

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they feel like they're inadequate and unworthy of the love and support of Allah's past data. And that, and that's something that can happen to so many of us in these types of circumstances. So, I'm going to give you an example of two different ways this can manifest, right? So healthy guilt would be an example like

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would be an example like, you know, I've been feeling so down lately. So I just really struggled to get out of bed and pray, like, I've missed so many prayers, and I just, I feel so badly about it. And so I know that if I just get up and just do one, then I'm going to feel good about having done an obligation to Allah's past data. And that's going to make me feel maybe just that much slightly better. That's healthy guilt. You're holding yourself accountable like Oh, I really wish that you know, I was doing my prayers taking a step toward a less Pattaya because of that guilt. Shame is I've just been so down lately that I can't get up to pray. I'm just a horrible person, all this pans

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out, I must hate me. So what's the point anyway, shame takes you further away from ALLAH SubhanA data. So we want to be really careful in the way that we the way that we deal with that. So in the last few minutes that I have, I just want to emphasize that when a little bit of the brain stuff, because I really, I really liked that. And I feel like it brings something for people to consider that when we are mourning the loss of somebody or we have gone through something traumatic, right, a lot of times people tell us that we should get over it. And or they tell us that you know, you just just pray, just pray and it'll, it'll be done. And again, prayer is absolutely

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an incredible tool to help us get through difficult times 100%. But if you're trying to pray, and you're struggling either to get up and pray, or you're trying to pray, and you can't feel it, let me explain it in a way that might make a little bit of sense so that it doesn't feel so bad and push you further away, right? Where when you've been through something traumatic or a loss, the brain area that is like really, really busy is the brain area that you need to survive it gets you get into survival mode, and that's the brain area that makes you feel afraid that makes you feel worried that makes you feel anxious. And what happens is you start to search for in your environment for

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other things that are going to hurt you in the same way that you've just been hurt. Right when that

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brain area is activated the front brain area, which is, is meant for decision making and good judgment and making decisions, the to do things that are good for yourself, that area is shut down. And so it's not that, you know, it's not that you don't want to pray or you don't want to feel better, it's that the brain area that's devoted to making good decisions about what's going to make you feel better. It's just not working as well. Right. And so even though you might know that prayer might make you feel better, you can't really make fully make that decision, because that's just not the way that your brain is working at that point. And so, but the more we take small steps to try

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and to try and actually to try and reconnect with Allah's past data, and try to make choices in every arena of our lives, that will get us on the path of healing, that's where our brain will start to positively change and then that front area will start to get activated again, in sha Allah, and then the feelings of then the bat, the the brain area that's in survival mode, we'll be able to realize, okay, I'm safe now I can shut down a little bit, and, you know, things will will start to regulate themselves. So when you're grieving or surviving a trauma and you're struggling with your connection to this path data. It's not an indication of the state of your heart or of your Eman.

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It's it's an indication of the state of your brain and what you have gone through right and so,

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that can sometimes bring a little bit of tranquility in difficult situations. So I ask ALLAH SubhanA data to to bestow healing and mercy and

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and comfort on everybody who is grieving and grant you a way out of that pain and suffering to panic alone having a shed when Leila Haleigh and to really cinematic graphology second live feed