The God Squad: Still more on coping with grief…

Rabbi Marc Gellman, Tribune Content Agency on

You mean well, but!

My daughter fosters. For six months, she fostered a baby who came from druggy parents. It looked like his parents didn’t want him, so my daughter started talking like maybe she would adopt him when it was possible. We all loved him, and he was a sweety. Then after six months, crib death. It’s been 11 months and my daughter posts on Facebook every day about it and acts like it was HER baby that died. Whether my daughter is looking for attention or sorrow or something snapped in her brain, she is at an embarrassing stage.

As it turns out, we don't speak because of other issues, but grief isn’t always the way you picture it, and dying from old age is also loss, but it’s life’s cycle. Of course, we miss the person and there is a void, but they had a long and happy life. As mentioned, there are many ways and ages people die and when it’s a baby or child that is hurt and a hole in one’s heart. But life goes on for the living and you still must be responsible for other children or adults. You can't wallow in sorrow because this then turns into an issue and a person needs tough love, help and a kick in the pants. – From J

May God comfort your daughter and you and your family on your heartbreaking loss. I understand your point of view that people need to understand that life is often tough and unfair and that they sometimes seem to need a kick in the pants to get going again and suck it up and get on with their life. However, I just am not a fan of spiritual confrontation. I believe that love and companionship and tender, patient understanding are always more productive than tough love. In fact, tough love to me is a contradiction. Love is gentle not tough. One of the most important lessons of love to the mourning is that Heaven is real and death is not the end of our spiritual journey. Your granddaughter is being sheltered now and forever under the wings of God’s protecting care. That is not just a belief. It is a saving belief and for me at least it is also true. — MG

I am not a religious person, but I do believe in God and Jesus. I do read your column every Sunday in the New York Newsday. My question is ‘Why do so many bad things happen to nice people?’ I once heard a song by Billy Joel, “Only the Good Die Young.” I take it as young, meaning the good ones. I'm 82 years old, married for 55 years to the love of my life and had two children, a son and daughter. My son was wild for a spell in his early teen years but turned out to be a beautiful son and a beautiful person. He is 50 years old. My daughter, 46 years old, was a beautiful person and very smart. But she started using drugs at an early age, and no matter how much we tried to help her nothing seemed to work. The drugs destroyed her good looks and health. She died just recently. Now here is my point. All people are good, it's just that they chose the wrong path. Why doesn't God step in and help people in trouble? That would be like an answer to our prayers. Thank you for your time and any reply offered. – From R


I love Billy Joel’s music, especially “A New York State of Mind”, but it is much better as music than as theology. It is manifestly not true that only the good die young. Some good people die young and some live long blessed lives. The issue comes down to this: Is a world where bad choices and bad luck can lead to premature death better than a world where God steps in and saves us from every bad choice and from every danger?

I think that a world of free choice backed up by a loving God who will receive our souls after death is far better than a world where we just sit back and wait for God to write the script of our lives. We were meant to “choose life” not to have life imposed on our recalcitrant souls. I loved Superman comics as a kid but in a world where God is just a more powerful Superman, we are just observers here on planet Earth instead of growing and learning and acting as God’s partners in a broken world. This world asks more of us than a world with a divine boss but, in the end, this is why Adam and Eve left Eden and this is why we will someday choose our way to God and each other. – MG

(Send ALL QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS to The God Squad via email at Rabbi Gellman is the author of several books, including “Religion for Dummies,” co-written with Fr. Tom Hartman. Also, the new God Squad podcast is now available.)

©2022 The God Squad. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.





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