Spirituality in Bereavement:
Interfaith Perspectives

Tuesdays: 09/08/2020-12/15/2020
9:40 am – 12:30 pm


Terri Daniel, DMin, CT, CCTP
707-827-3156  |  terri@danieldirect.net




When facing a profound a loss of any kind, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, job loss, pet loss or loss of health, we cannot separate psychology from spirituality. Regardless of one’s belief system, spiritual outlook or concept of God, loss and grief almost always triggers existential questions, because searching for meaning is an intrinsic part of the grieving process.

Anyone who works to support the bereaved inevitably encounters this struggle, but often feels uncertain of how to examine it.  Indeed, a Christian might wonder, “Why would a loving god let this happen?” or “Is God punishing me?” A person who is Spiritual But Not Religious (SBNR) might ask, “What am I supposed to learn from this experience?” or “How is this experience challenging me to deepen my spiritual practice?” An atheist might question whether painful events are truly random, or if there is some deeper purpose to our losses.

It can be unclear how to engage productively with these questions while respecting the uniqueness of each person’s spiritual journey. Furthermore, in the mental health field, spirituality is often regarded as a taboo subject and not adequately addressed in counseling sessions or support groups.

In this course, we will examine death and grief practices from several world cultures and spiritual traditions, with special sections on Hinduism, Judaism and Islam.  This course is designed for masters-level pastoral care providers working with loss, trauma and grief. Course activities will include class discussion, lecture, interactive exercises, reflection papers, sacred ceremony.


Syllabus Summary/Topics

SESSION 1 – Sept. 8 - 14:  Meeting Grief in Ourselves and Others
SESSION 2 – Sept. 15 - 21: Religious Responses to Loss
SESSION 3 – Sept. 22 - 28: Embracing/Avoiding Death and a Focus on Islam
SESSION 4 - Sept. 29 – Oct. 5: Grief Rituals and a focus on Hinduism
SESSION 5 – Oct. 6 - 12:  Mystical Experiences and Afterlife Schemas
SESSION 6 – Oct. 13 - 19: The Intersection of Spirituality and Bereavement (and a focus on Judaism)
SESSION 7 – Oct. 20 - 26:  Personal Healing and Counseling Skills
SESSION 8 – Oct. 27 – Nov. 2:    Reading Week
SESSION 9 – Nov. 3 – 9:  Support Skills in Clinical Settings
SESSION 10 - Nov. 10 - 16: Group Work
SESSION 11- Nov. 17 - 23:  Family Dynamics
SESSION 12 – Nov. 24 - 30:  Thanksgiving Week
SESSION 13- Dec. 1 – 7:  Grieving in Community
SESSION 14  – Dec. 8 - 14: Practitioner Spiritual Growth and Self-Care
SESSION 15– Dec.15:  Course Wrap-Up and Community Ceremony


. Explain the significance of spirituality in the grieving process
. Assess and guide another through the existential questions asked by the bereaved
. Explain approaches to death and grief from diverse cultures and religious traditions
. Explain and demonstrate the importance of ritual for healing
. Utilize hands-on therapeutic tools for grief processing
. Discuss current research on spirituality and bereavement