How do you handle grief?

From Jannah B

I've been thinking about Christianity and the crutch it is since my leaving it.

Recently, a friend was set alight and attacked with a screwdriver (by a complete stranger... can you believe it?) and they did not know if she would survive. In all honesty I prayed out to anything, just by the off chance she would be okay, or that it may help. I knew whilst saying it, that i was talking to thin air. But, it assisted me to cope with the grief and the anxiety of not knowing.

The question I have is, how has everyone coped in their grief since leaving behind the lies of Christianity? I have chosen to allow myself to feel out of control and know that there is no cosmic force aligning itself with my prayers.

But, I still feel the need to pray in those times of grief, anxiety or even when i just need a little help with something...

What do you do? How do you cope? How do you address stress?

Is it okay to cry to the God that doesn't exist? Is it okay to pray? Or am I merely covering grief and stress with a crutch like I did with Christianity?

Is it okay to cry out to a god you don't believe in? Or are you merely covering your crutch with another?

sidebar: Crutch implies for those that may not be aware (I dont know if this is Australian slang or international) a crutcher or something that holds you up when you feel you cant carry yourself.

from www.dictionary.com No. 3 being the one i am discussing

crutch /krʌtʃ/ Pronunciation Key - –noun

1. a staff or support to assist a lame or infirm person in walking, now usually with a crosspiece at one end to fit under the armpit.

2. any of various devices resembling this in shape or use.

3. anything that serves as a temporary and often inappropriate support, supplement, or substitute; prop: He uses liquor as a psychological crutch.

4. a forked support or part.

5. the crotch of the human body.

6. Also, crotch. Nautical.

a. a forked support for a boom or spar when not in use.

b. a forked support for an oar on the sides or stern of a rowboat.

c. a horizontal knee reinforcing the stern frames of a wooden vessel.

7. a forked device on the left side of a sidesaddle, consisting of two hooks, one of which is open at the bottom and serves to clamp the left knee and the other of which is open at the top and serves to support the right knee.

–verb (used with object)

8. to support on crutches; prop; sustain.



Where to from here with our grief?

26 comments:

SpaceMonk said...

I shouldn't really advise on grief, but cry out however you want.
If it works then good.

You're aware that christianity is lies, which isn't going to change is it?
Whatever works for you.
It would just be a mental exercise, as long as it's not going to be a further burden for you (now or later) than the grief you already feel.

If you find yourself not happy with such a crutch, aware as you may be of it's crutch status, then don't do it anymore. ;)

Anonymous said...

spacemonk, in my opinion and despite his own disclaimer, makes a good point. My personal view is that such moments of crying out is the actual origin of theism. The rest, the theology and the philosophy, are after thoughts.

The "lies of christianity" as some call it are but truncated views, premature ejaculations if you will, by people who don't want to feel the pain of their nadir moments, having their backs flat against the wall. They intellectualize away the pain.

I cry out often, but seldom in a church. The peope there usually don't understand.

Tim said...

I'd not pray to god or some unknown entity. It might be okay for a while (crutch) but you should eventually stop. Bad things happen to everyone. I could list pages that happened to me in the last few years but I can only say try to find comfort where you can and ween yourself from the idea that praying will help. replace the falsehood with something different. Crying work for me. hehehe good luck.

Tim

Anonymous said...

To deal with stress, I talk to a good friend. :) Looking forward to it makes handling things during the day so much easier. And in that case, I get an actual reply. None of that straining my mind to comprehend some "still, small voice".

Anonymous said...

That's one thing that takes a while to work out; just what exactly do you do to fill the void that Christianity (sort of) filled? Or at least, that is the void that religion is meant to fill. I think that every human has parts of us that are constantly aching. I think that over time the "crutches" start falling away as you find other ways to handle feelings of grief or sadness or whatever causes one to call out to whatever is there, even if there's nothing. Very often soon after leaving the church I found myself in the same position you speak of, of wanting comfort but realizing the god I thuoght was there really wasn't, so now what do we do? There really is no good answer to this, I think it's something we have to figure out for ourselves, but eventually I came to realize that I had to find my own ways of dealing with grief, etc. Now I write, or talk to a person I trust, or create some art, or whatever I need at the time. The thing is, we as humans are responsible for our own feelings and have to deal with them, since no invisible diety is going to give us any help. It's a harsh truth, but I found that I prefered a harsh truth to a comforting lie.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of things to help with grief. I got to experience how to deal with it myself when my uncle, who I was close to, died a couple of months ago. It was my first time to experience it without religious belief.

I got the news from my dad and was so shocked I asked if he was kidding me. My dad would never joke about anything like that, but it just came out. I called my wife and told her I was going to go to the hospital where he was to be with the family.

My uncle left two sons, one is 12 years old, the other 15 years old. He was single and was raising two boys just like my dad did with me and my brother.

When I got to the hospital I choked back tears until I saw the boys. I also hugged my dad for a long time and cried. Although I am suppose to be Mr. tough police man I knew I didn't want to bottle up what I felt. I ended up not wanting to go look at the body because I wanted to remember him how I last saw him. I am glad that I did that.

That night I posted a blog dedicated to him with a few pictures from our last July 4th family get-together. It was good to talk about him and remember.

A few days later we had a funeral for him at the grave site. My uncle wasn't really religious, but he did have a Christian ceremony. As an atheist I admit I was disappointed, but I understood that not everyone sees the world as I did, and it was okay for the boys, their mom, and the rest of the family, since that is where they were at.

I didn't pray. I didn't want to pray. In fact, as oddly as this may sound, I feel more at peace now as a non-believer than when I was a believer. I no longer grieve over the fact that family members long gone might be in a hell for eternity. I didn't go to his funeral worrying that my uncle didn't live right enough and hoping somehow "God" could just overlook his transgressions.

Since then I think through expressing my grief in a manner I felt was right for me, I have done very well. I miss him deeeply, but I know and am happy with understanding that this is how life is. And I know that he would want all of us to move and and keep living life to the fullest.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with spacemonk here. The only answer is: whatever works.

*However* (there is always a however) -- there are more and less effective ways to process grief.

The first thing, in my opinion, is to remember that grief is grief. And you have to mourn the pain and loss that occasion grief, which means you have to feel it. So anything that gets in the way of feeling it, in the long haul, is generally a bad thing. That doesnt mean you have to feel it full force, all the time. We all "naturally" do things in our grief to ease it for a little while, the most obvious of which is distracting yourself. But where I think the danger of Christianity lies is that it, basically, narcotizes grief by saying things like "god will bring some good out of it" or "you will see (whoever) again in heaven". And those are the more benign ones. Some Christian ideologies teach all pain and suffering come from sin. *That* is the truly destructive rationalization, although, even here, its an attempt to cope.

The problem ,I think, with grief and loss is not just the pain of the loss itself, but the sense of helplessness that it engenders. Helplessness is one of the most difficult emotions for human beings to deal with, and I think this is why prayer is so often used. It, essentially, allows us to feel like we are *doing* something. I think this is an underacknowledged problem my many atheists, since human beings seem designed (by nature) to need to feel in control of our lives and environment (this has obvious survival benefits) and, when nothing in the material world allows us to feel that, we invent a nonmaterial world in which our needs *are* met. (please keep in mind, I am an atheist also). Thus, religion serves our needs, and if we can no longer believe in religion, then how shall that need get met?

So, practically, I do think its problematic to pray if it helps, and if it takes the edge off the pain for a while. It doesn’t sound like you really expect a god to intervene, so I think theres no harm done in this. I have done it myself, even though I also don’t believe in god. It’s a defense mechanism – but that’s okay. We certainly need defense mechanisms.

Incidentally, I think natural grieving mechanisms will almost always, in my experience, eventually come into play no matter what the religious background. Its how we’re built, evolutionarily, and so we do those things that move us through grief – unload on a friend, rally community support, cry, eat comfort food, sleep, etc. As long and religion does not hinder these things, and in my experience it usually doesn’t, we will get through it. I actually don’t think most Christians *really* expect answered prayer for tragedies; it just serves as a means of ritualizing grief and gathering support.

Hope that helps. Im sorry to hear about your friend.

Anonymous said...

Interesting topic!
I talk to myself. Some cliches I learned at 12-step meetings really help.

What do I tell myself?

* This, too, shall pass

* Tomorrow will be another day, and I don't know what it will be like-- I just have to survive this one.

* Other people have been in this situation before, and they found a way to cope--I'll find my way.

* It doesn't matter what I do or not. The outcome will be the same. I'd better calm down. Being calm will help me find answers.

* There is nothing I can do about it. Might as well relax, take it easy, and LET GO. Fretting will just make things worse.

* I give myself permission to feel the pain and despair without necessarily having to find a solution to the problem.

The last point is important. Because we turn to God thinking that at least "He" can do something about it. But really, if there is nothing that can be humanly done, then it is final.

We go to "God" as a form of denial, but the quicker we admit that we, personally, don't have the solution to the problem, the faster we will move from grief to acceptance.

I rarely turn to God. But if somebody needs the crutch to live another day, then so be it.

Anonymous said...

Most of us, if we are brutally honest, need “crutches” of one sort or another, but hopefully these will be based on verifiable and time-tested concepts.

Grief is a fact of life. We will NEVER escape it, if we allow, love, commitment, friendship and passion into our lives. That said, I am willing to take the risk of grief, loss and disappointment to experience love, commitment, friendship and the desire, motivation and hope afforded by passion. For me, life would not be worth living without these.

I won’t tell you whether or not you should “pray”. That’s up to you. I don’t consider talking to myself a bad thing, especially in private. I also find that being alone for a while is a help, where I can cry and yell (if need be) and no one will be the wiser. And yes, group crying works for me too.

As you grow older, your grieving process may change. I find that it helps me to think about how my life has been enriched by the one who has died and how I can be graceful for their place in my world. This also inspires me to leave an honorable legacy myself and reinforces the idea of how important we are to one another - with or without the “help” of a vengeful deity.

My advice? Use your head and choose your “crutches” wisely. Trust me, you will figure it out!

Anonymous said...

Jannah, just because Christianity is a crock doesn't mean that there is definitely no God. I'd cry out to God in situations of grief, although I'm not sure there is such a being existing.
Cheapman

Joe B said...

For me it has been therapy and meds that did the trick. My sadness grew out of PTSD and I am ever so glad that I gave up the false hope of divine intervention for the real help of a qualified trauma therapist and the science of pharmacology to help through the worst of it. With the disorder now in a manageable state I shudder to think how long I could have languished through all that laying on of hands bullshit if my doubts hadn't led me out of the church when it did. Fuck the crutch and all the delusional churchmen who offer it in the place of real healing.

Aspentroll said...

Wow, am I a lucky guy. I have never prayed or even thought of praying, and I just turned 73. It never crossed my mind.

That would because I was fortunate enough to be born of
parents who didn't push religion down my throat during my younger years.

I have done extremely well with out religion, never did anything too terrible, was a cop for 30 years, have a great marriage and enjoy good health.

How could that be? I have not been the slightest bit religious. Could it be that religion is hogwash and not the least bit necessary?

Hellbound Alleee said...

In grief, I let my knowledge of no gods comfort me.

I know that there is no creator that wanted this to happen, or didn't stop it when it could have.

I know that death is final, and not a possible entry into everlasting torment, or, possibly, being an automaton for the pleasure of a god eternally.

I know that the knowledge to help the situation exists here, in the world, and not in an unattainable La-La Land.

I know that when my grief rages, the world still exists outside of my pain. I take comfort from this.

I know that someday, when I am ready, I will feel better, because I know that the capacity for future contentment exists in me.

Anonymous said...

Jannah,

I lost my 25-year-old younger brother six months ago to a genetic disease. Being an ex-christian, I did not pray once the whole time. The only thing that gave me comfort was my belief that I would see him again someday--not in a biblical heaven, but "someplace" beyond this world. This is my belief for me, I don't care if others do not believe as I do--what they believe is their business.

Basically, it's your right to grieve in any manner that gives you peace. I agree with the person who said to talk to a good friend; that's probably the number one best way to handle grief, to talk it out.

BMorality said...

Years ago I was riding with a non-close friend and we were talking about death. We had no morbid fascination; we just wanted to discuss how we felt. I told him that I would probably not miss him much if he died. I wasn’t trying to be mean or cold, just honest (although maybe a bit too clinical). He understood the direction from which I was coming and agreed. The thing I learned was that I miss my interactions with the things around me, when those people or things go away.

My father died a couple years ago and I didn't really grieve much. I didn't have much to grieve about. These past 10 years I only called him a couple times a year and visited him for a couple days, maybe every other year. I honestly think I will be sadder when my dog dies. Again, I don't mean to sound cold. It's just the truth. I loved my dad but all I had left were the memories of my childhood. I'd like to hear his voice one more time. I'd like my children to see and remember him. But he's gone (and I see my dog everyday).

I'm really quite comfortable with the finality of death but it wasn’t until I really stopped believing in the afterlife that I found comfort. There was always that doubt in my mind when I’d go to funerals and people would say “well, at least he’s in a better place”. I was never certain about that. There was always that nag. Now that I’m certain there's no life after this one, that nag is gone. When we die, that's it. How liberating! Now I can face the pain head on. I can embrace the pain and deal with it. It’s very sad but believing in nothing does not feel worse than faking it. I’m honestly more capable now because I think I have some honest answers to the death process and how to walk through it.

When I think about those I’ve lost I don’t have to go any further than thinking they’re gone. I’ll miss them but at least I don’t have to concern myself with pretending. The pain will go away, or at least get more distant. It always does.

Anonymous said...

Aspentroll just said: "Wow, am I a lucky guy. I have never prayed or even thought of praying, and I just turned 73. It never crossed my mind."

In May 2007 Aspentroll said: "All her (his mother) attempts at getting me exposed to religion went awry."
http://exchristian.net/2/2007/05/christopher-hitchens-eulogizes-jerry.html

In August 2007 Aspentroll said: "I guess it's worse than having your ass dragged to church every sunday when you were a kid like many of us were."
http://exchristian.net/2/2007/08/pastor-arrested-for-assault.html

In June 2007 Aspentroll said: "I'm from Canada and will enjoy a nice warm eternal vacation. Just think no more heating bills."
http://exchristian.net/testimonies/2007/06/see-you-in-hell.html

For each topic where a Pastor or Priest sinned against God and against society and is rightly convicted, Aspentroll says: "Another one bites the dust"


Dear Aspentroll,

I would like to let you know that your claims of not praying or never even thinking of praying are an out right lie. You are lying to yourself and deep down, you know it. No person that has been to Sunday School (regarless of your young age) and had a parent of faith, can claim to have never "even thought of praying".

Despite your claims at having such a perfectly executed life, I also know that you've failed in many ways, and that, despite your clouded state, you are still aware of these failures.

Aspentroll, in your long life I know that you've succumbed to impurity, dishonesty, greed, pride and other sins. Each of these personal failures you can recollect and may even recall times of suffering caused by these sins.

Today, as you approach the end of your life, I hope to remind you that any and all sins of your past can be wiped clean. The blood of Christ is sufficient to bring you to heaven.

Please consider revisiting the Gospels, there is one Truth and it is available to you if you seek it with honesty and humility.

I pray for your salvation and hope that someday soon, before you die, you recognize the severity of your desire for an eternity in hell.

May the fear of God penerate your heart such that God's mercy and love can be your pearls. These pearls would be your most precious treasure, this I can assure you. All you need to do is turn your will toward Him, Jesus Christ.

May God bless you and bring you swiftly to the Truth. He loves you more than you can imagine and He's kept you alive to prove it. Please don't offend Him by rejecting His offer till the end.

Sincerely in Christ,
Simon

Astreja said...

Simon, you are an asshole... A true representative of the debilitating mind-fuck that is Christianity. After that nasty, judgmental and outright libellous tirade against Aspentroll, are you so naïve as to think that any sentient being would want to become like you?

May the cold light of reality totally destroy your faith.

Anonymous said...

"Aspentroll, in your long life I know that you've succumbed to impurity, dishonesty, greed, pride and other sins."

Yes, Aspentroll. I hope you did commit all of those sins. That would mean that you've had fun and enjoyed life at its fullest. And for that, congratulations.

Because you are a happy, guilt free individual who doesn't need to go around threatening others with "the fear of God," unlike some other repressed, bitter individuals who come here to utter deadly threats in the name of love.

Simon, you are trying very hard to walk on the tight rope of Christianity. And the sorrow and resentment you feel for being so unhappy shows on your post.

Obviously, you are jealous that other people who aren't brainwashed as you are can enjoy a beer and a good night of sex without feeling guilty. Imagine that!

I hope, Simon, that as the end of your life approaches, you will be able to free yourself from the chains of Christianity, so you can really see the light and experience true love.

webmdave said...

Simon, the Gospels won't help anyone figure out how to be saved. Jesus didn't teach it. In fact, without Paul, no one would no the "true" formula for salvation.

Here, this article might help you understand it better: God's extremely complex plan of salvation.

Anonymous said...

Here's proof that christianity is a con game...like all con games, it tries to pray on the elderly first (no offense to you, Aspentroll...you're obviously an exception). Unfortunately, Simon, if you'd really read all of Aspentroll's posts, you'd realize that there's no way he's going to buy into your crap.

And did you read what you wrote?? Do you not realize that you're nothing but a mouthpiece for an antiquated middle eastern religion that espouses all manner of inhuman behaviors? The only thing that separates what you wrote from the ramblings of an Islamic terrorist fanatic is your term for god.

By the way, yes, I AM comparing christian fundamentalist nutcases like yourself with Islamic extremists because you both share a false, warped, and deluded view of the world that is based on the hatred, prejudices, and insanities of the espousers of your dead religions who, coincidently, lived and died millenia ago when knowledge, life, and culture were MUCH more different than they are today.

Go sit in a corner with a dunce hat on and keep hoping for the end of the world while your Islamic brethren go out and try to make it happen.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jannah,

I understand exactly your dilemma. My dad passed away three weeks ago and although he had been sick, he was expected to recover. His last five or six hours were the first indication we had that he was not going to wake up, and as we all sat there in the hospital room, watching his blood pressure decrease while the nurse kept increasing the drugs, my mind searched through all the same questions you had asked.

I wanted a miracle, nothing would have made me happier than to see the hand of some benevolent God reach down and pull him through. And when he died, I wanted to see signs that he was still with us, or at peace, or a reason to believe that we might all be together again one day.

I have been an atheist for years, and although I cannot be certain about anything beyond human experience, I know the most logical conclusion to death is non-existence. This is, of course, of little comfort at times like this.

However, I know better than to change my beliefs to fit one that is comforting, just for the sake of that comfort. I could accept ideas of heaven, God's mysterious purposes, etc, just to make it easier for me to get over the grief. But I will not do that, I will continue to follow my intelligence and experience.

Anonymous said...

To Simon:

Well, well, well Simon, it seems that you are a prophet who has a great insight into the life of "Aspentroll".


SIMON SAYS:

"May the fear of God penerate your heart such that God's mercy and love can be your pearls."

Now that above statement is a classic. Use fear and manipulation to bring this poor lost soul into the kingdom of god. Just use threats such as "The Fear of God", which is the same old worn out,
typical Christian Propaganda. Come on Simon, can't you come up with something better than that? Ya know after 2,000 years don't ya think it's time to come up with a new game plan in order to win souls for your god?

SIMON SAYS:
"These pearls would be your most precious treasure, this I can assure you. All you need to do is turn your will toward Him, Jesus Christ.

May God bless you and bring you swiftly to the Truth. He loves you more than you can imagine and He's kept you alive to prove it. Please don't offend Him by rejecting His offer till the end.

Sincerely in Christ,
Simon"

Nice touch there towards the end Simon. After using christian threats and fear of hell, you talk about the precious pearls and your nice sweet talk of Jesus.

THE CHRISTIAN'S WAY OF WINNING PEOPLE TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD:

1) Share a story about a man who was God in the flesh who died on a cross.

2) Tell this person what a horrible sinner they are, and how they are going to end up in hell one day, even though what happened in the garden of eden was not their fault. At least it wasn't anyone's fault who is currently living in the year 2007.

3) Then tell them how Jesus/god loves them and ask them to accept his wonderful gift and let him into your life so you can become a slave to Christ, and lose all ability on how to think for one self. Plus you get a free Fire Insurance Policy which includes "Eternal Coverage" as a bonus. You don't even have to pick up a phone, just close your eyes, and talk to yourself.

You are pathetic Simon. I mean what a weak minded statement you made on here towards Aspentroll.

Hey Simon, my advice to you is, to "Shut the fuck up".

BTW, tell Jesus to blow me!

Poltergoost

Anonymous said...

Hello Poltergoost,
Aside from impurity, dishonesty, greed and pride being sins, you should know that hate is also contrary to God's will.

Hello Lorena,
By stating “Yes, Aspentroll. I hope you did commit all of those sins. That would mean that you've had fun and enjoyed life at its fullest.”

Do you truly believe that these sins make for an “enjoyable” life?

Impurity could be: Immersing one self into pornography (at the expense of his wife’s internal suffering). Forcing/manipulating undesired sexual behaviors onto his wife which he knows makes her uncomfortable. Using the Internet to view nude teenagers (God forbid, children) at the expense of the suffering being imparted on these girls/teens to be placed in these situations.

Dishonesty could be: Lying to your wife about the lunches you’re having with another women. Lying to yourself about your own faithfulness by allowing your mind to fantasize about other women. Lying on your resume to get a job. On a business trip, going to a prostitute or strip joint but don’t tell your spouse (add this to impurity). Saying good night to your spouse, then changing channels to something you know that he/she does not approve of. Etc…

Greed could be: Not letting your wife or children have any of the family’s disposable income because you’d rather use it for your toys. Despite your high quality of life, never giving a cent to charity to help those that are suffering with basic needs, like food. Etc…

Pride could be: Taking credit for a colleague’s idea during a conversation with upper management. Talking negatively about a colleague to smear his/her work. Frequently speaking very negatively or condescendingly about any group (person at work, ethnic group, family members, “friends”, etc…).

Do you really believe that by choosing sins, you get to “enjoy life to the fullest”? Really?

Do you really believe that being conscientious of sin you cannot “enjoy a beer and a good night of sex without feeling guilty” ? I have beer in the fridge and enjoy intimate times with my wife 2-3 times a week! Guilt free!

Lorena do you really believe that I have “sorrow and resentment because I’m so unhappy” ? I can tell you with complete honesty, that I am a very, very happy person. What peace I have to know that Jesus is my teacher and that he loves me so much. Since he’s allowed me to know this truth, he’s blessed me with an incredibly loving family.

I really don’t understand why anyone would choose sin over righteousness. We all want to be good people, no? Then choose it and when you stumble, ask God for help, in the name of Jesus and he is a faithful teacher!

Simon

fjell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
fjell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
fjell said...

Simon said: I really don’t understand why anyone would choose sin over righteousness.

The answer is simple: The Bible calls a lot of things "sin" which some of us do not find all that disturbing. And likewise, the Bible seems to breeze straight past several things which some of us find utterly reprehensible. (Such as 2 Kings 2:23-5 - that this was done "in the name of the Lord" is utterly incomprehensable)

You want to talk about someone's wife and kids getting gypped on disposable income. I want to talk about 42 kids getting mauled by a bear.

In short, we don't deem the Bible's calls as the last word on moral behaviour.

fjell

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