One Person's Journey through Grief:
Making peace with parents--a prayerful solution
By Jan Jacoby
Grief when my parents died and a difficult father-in-law. Two very
different problems but I found that one solution, prayer, healed them
My husband had been having problems with his father for many years which
resulted in some deep-seeded resentment. Like my husband, I believed him
to be a tyrant who was a control freak. Since we lived so far away, we
were both relieved that we didn't see them often.
He got very angry and said hurtful things to both me and my
mother-in-law. No matter what I did, it displeased him, and he wouldn't
hesitate to tell me. We also had a few very unpleasant and heated
Flashback to an earlier time when I was dealing with a different
parental problem. Within 6 months of each other, my mom and dad both
I was very close to my parents and here I was, at 36 years of age,
feeling like an orphan! An empty, hurting feeling welled up in me.
Yet even during these dark days, I sensed a distant light of hope. I had
been learning about the spiritual nature of God and man from a book
called Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy; learning about the Fatherhood and Motherhood of God and of my identity
as the child of God. For instance, I began to understand that God is
always with me, and I felt His fathering and mothering qualities
comforting and caring for me. I saw that, spiritually speaking, everyone
is God's image and likeness. When I thought of my parents I saw that
they each expressed some of those lovely spiritual qualities that can
come only from God; qualities like strength, integrity, compassion, tenderness, comfort, and joy.
I began to gain a tangible spiritual sense of my mom and dad's true
being. Some how I knew that my parents always had been and always would
be with God, and that nothing had really happened to their true
identity. The ideas in Science and Health comforted me to such an extent
that within a few days of my parents' passing, I no longer grieved.
Flash forward to the stress of dealing with my father-in-law. It took a
few years, but I began to realize that it wasn't
"Dad's" responsibility to love me, but that it was my responsibility, as
it was with my own parents, to see him the way God sees him. I had to
recognize that my father-in-law possessed those same spiritual
qualities, even if they seemed buried under a gruff exterior.
In Science and Health, Eddy writes a provocative statement: "When we
realize that there is one Mind, the divine law of loving our neighbor as
ourselves is unfolded; whereas a belief in many ruling minds hinders
from man's normal drift towards the one Mind, one God, and leads human
thought into opposite channels where selfishness reigns."
As I did this, I began to see Dad as God's man, including the Fatherhood
of God, as being loving and lovable. And I started appreciating all the
beautiful things about him -- his continuing activity at a rather
advanced age, his love for his wife, (although it wasn't always
obvious), his singing in a quartet at his church and his love of God.
Over the last few years, our relationship began to blossom. I began to
see a real attitude change toward me. I was beginning to feel that we
were actually friends. One day Dad actually apologized to me for
something he had said. My husband thought that was the first time he had
ever heard him apologize to anyone for anything.
And another time he asked me to help him plant a tomato plant. All I did
was hold the plant; he did all the work. But I could feel his tender
love for me, his daughter-in-law. He even started smiling when I would
give him a goodnight kiss on the cheek. I also noticed that my husband
began to enjoy our trips to visit his parents. He even looked forward to
Four months ago, my father-in-law passed away, but not before he and my
husband had the sweetest exchange of words. And I know that my husband
now knows that his dad loved him very much. At Dad's memorial service
family and friends were asked if they'd like to share a few thoughts
about him. So I had the opportunity to share how my relationship with
Dad had grown in grace giving God the full credit for this healing.
On top of all this good was another healing! A lingering feeling of
competition and a strained relationship with my mother vanished in the
light of all I was learning.
There were lots of lessons learned in these experiences. But maybe the
biggest was that underneath each problem is the false notion that we are
somehow cut off from God and from expressing God's qualities. That's
something I now realize I don't have to believe!
Note: GriefandRenewal.Com does not endorse any particular religious belief or practice.
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