Grief as a Mystical Journey: Fowler's Stages of Faith Development and Their Relation to Post-Traumatic Growth

J Pastoral Care Counsel. 2017 Dec;71(4):220-229. doi: 10.1177/1542305017741858.


This paper explores the relationship between embedded theological assumptions and the ways in which one copes with loss and bereavement. Based on James Fowler's research on Stages of Faith Development, the paper examines common Western psycho-spiritual beliefs related to loss, trauma, and grief, and proposes that profound loss experiences have the potential to lead the griever to a shift in theological thinking. It addresses the ways in which a "crisis of faith" triggered by loss or trauma prompts the questioning of closely-held beliefs, which can lead to an expanded spiritual perspective that can be beneficial to the healing process.

Keywords: Bereavement; grief; mysticism; post-traumatic growth.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Attitude to Death
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Grief
  • Humans
  • Pastoral Care / methods
  • Religion and Psychology*
  • Spiritual Therapies / methods
  • Spirituality*