Sunday, May 6, 2012

Grief Beyond Religion

I was recently made aware of a Facebook group called "Grief Beyond Belief." It's geared at those who have lost someone but do not subscribe to any kind of faith or belief in an afterlife or higher power. I joined the group because, while I'm not there myself, I think it's important. Atheists grieve, too, and they need support. Most sites and support groups, while supposedly interdenominational, are decidedly Christian based.

I actually have no problem being a part of a group in which most members are Christian. However, there does come a point where it can be isolating to look for support and not receive it or feel it because you don't share the same theological beliefs as the other members. (Even if the group structure is not supposed to be based on religion.)

If you're an atheist and you're talking about how bad you feel and how much you miss your child and someone says to you, "Don't worry, he's with God" that's not comforting. While it might be comforting to the person saying it, the person on the receiving end is just as devastated as they were before.

I happen to believe in a higher power and an afterlife. But, I have found no comfort in any of the religious remarks that have been directed at me because they are not viewpoints that are share. In many cases, I have found the cliches to even be dismissing and condescending. No, I do not believe that my son is in a better place. I think the best place for him is in my arms. I do not believe that he is now an angel with God. (Theologically speaking, angels were never human-they were separate entities. I know, I'm contrary.) I do not believe that "God knew what he was doing." I personally think that if there is a higher being, he doesn't micromanage like that. If he created us in his image, then why can't he make mistakes?

I was actually defriended by some SIDS parents at Christmas for saying that we should be respectful of all religions that are celebrating major holidays during December.

I HAVE found some solace in discussing afterlife and theories with fellow grief stricken parents who do not follow one religion or another or, if they do, are very open-minded about it. I've had some great conversations with people about everything from ghosts to reincarnation.

I really believe that there should be a website or group for those who are agnostic, practice an alternative religion, or are just simply spiritual so that they can connect with others in a safe environment where they won't be judged or ignored for not sharing common beliefs.

I might start it myself. I need a name, though.

Grief hits people of all faiths and beliefs. They deserve to be able to talk about their beliefs and their sadness without getting attacked. 


Jayden's Mommy said...

Our baby was also six weeks; and yes its exactly three months and people says we have to continue and focus and keep going but the pain that we have today is worse than ever. Toby was handsome as was my Jayden. Thank you for sharing your story; i feel someone understands.

Groves said...

Like you, I believe in a higher power and an afterlife. I also completely agree with this:

"Grief hits people of all faiths and beliefs. They deserve to be able to talk about their beliefs and their sadness without getting attacked."

What seems strange is that so often people "of faith" will not - willingly! - show mercy and compassion to those who are suffering. Yes - this includes allowing them exactly the freedom you described above.

I don't understand attacking people for what they do/don't believe. Befriending them, treating them kindly, listening to them, caring about them - go for it. But why attack them? What possible good can that do...not to mention, why would they ever care to hear an opinion from someone who treats them so badly?

I think you are exactly right. I'm glad you shared your thoughts on this.

xo Cathy in Missouri

Jayden's Mommy said...

our baby was also 6 weeks and yes now its when the pain is the worst its like reality its here and he is not. there is so much pain... it seems like its never going to get better....and we have hopes but its so hard...

Rebecca said...

@Jayden's Mommy- I am so sorry about the loss of your son. At three months I was honestly just really starting to feel the pain. I don't think the deep pain even sank in until 6 months later. It was like a black hole or a nightmare.

@Groves- I feel like there's so much judging when you lose a child and it comes from the oddest of places-sometimes from the very people who should understand where you're coming from. I think a lot of where this comes from is fear. Of what, I don't know. When it comes to other parents, I try to show as much compassion and respect as humanly possible, even if I don't agree with their beliefs. If they want to believe that when their child died he ended up on a unicorn under Lake Michigan* then I'm going to listen to that, smile, and nod. I figure they don't need my judgement-they need my support.

*That was a personal fantasy of mine when I was 7. No idea where the Lake Michigan part came from.