I am sad and angry that a young man had to die

From Linda W

Tomorrow is the funeral of a young man. He died at age 21 in Iraq. He was a childhood friend of my daughter.

The funeral will be at a church, of course. His parents were very religious.

I am very saddened and yes, angry that a young man had to die.

The funeral will have the usual messages of how great and good God/Jesus are, how this young man was called home, how he now is in the loving arms of Jesus, etc.

I think to myself of how I would cope with the death of one of my children. I know that regardless of the depths of my despair, I have come too far in my rational, logical worldview to resort to the supernatural for comfort. Knowing that the deceased is not suffering and honoring the life he had here on earth would bring me peace.

I understand the comfort it brings people to believe the dead are in a better place, but with that belief comes the belief in hell. How many people suffer needlessly wondering if loved ones passed on are in hell?

The funeral will be mostly about how wonderful God is, how God helps the bereaved, how the Lord is with all of us, etc. Only in the privacy of one's home will anybody be calling out to his or her God, angrily demanding to know why and how a loving God could let such a thing happen. And this most likely will then be accompanied by guilt and then an emotional surrender to "God's will."

If you can separate yourself from the sadness of the situation, you can see the madness in the belief that such a great power is now your comfort, but that power did nothing to save your loved one, nor did anything to stop the suffering of millions of other loved ones.

And it made no difference whether they were believers or not.

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FormerFollower said...

I attended a funeral like that earlier this year. It was nauseating. The church where this funeral was held was charismatic, and so they had a 'homegoing service' for the man who died, and before the service was over, the church folk were literally dancing in praise and waving their hands in ecstasy to their god. We atheists and agnostics who attended sat in the back of the church and watched them in amazement. Was it possible for people to be so unfeeling, to put their agenda into a funeral? Absolutely. The church people had no compassion for the grieving widow, who was a church member, and for the family from out of town, who was not. Our friend's funeral turned into a Praise Service, and when it was over, the pastor encouraged everyone to give the deceased a "clap offering" as the casket went by. I've never seen such a disgusting display in my life. There was no dignity, no solomnness, certainly no compassion for the family, who were not charismatic christians and deserved a time to grieve for their family member. Afterwards, I spoke with the family, and they had been horrified by how the funeral had been conducted, and not the least bit "ministered to" by it. In fact, they now had their horror of what the funeral was like piled on top of their son/brother's death. The church folks who do this just have no idea of what they're doing, and I will not attend another funeral in a church. I just can't stand the cruelty of inflicting an insane worldview onto the family on top of the grief of someone's death by people who are just so ignorant that they apparently don't know any better. A bunch of monkeys would have given our friend a kinder sendoff.

Astreja said...

Turning a funeral into an altar call is inhumane and absolutely reprehensible. Only a truly warped and sick mind would exploit the suffering of loved ones in such a manner.

sconnor said...

My ten year old son died from a heart attack, related to leukemia. The devastation and overwhelming feelings of grief are inexpressible and hope has been obliterated. I have become increasingly more frustrated with some of the regular members at a grief counseling group -- Compassionate Friends. I hear some of the notoriously, religious ones, "they have faith in god, to get them through their grief". Which I reply by saying, How can I have faith in god, to get me through my grief, if god couldn't help my son? If there is a god then he let my son suffer, only to die and he only represents any child who has ever suffered and died. I get others who say, "well maybe god spared him his suffering and caused him to die". Which of course is ridiculous, because there are so many children who suffer for several years, with egregious diseases, only to die. I also hear, "god loves us" and when I question these people on their statement -- How do you know god loves us? They really can't answer or they resort to, "it's just a feeling" or "I know in my heart". Which is complete bullshit. I know they have convinced themselves that their child may be in heaven, but guess what? -- the pain is still there, for all of them. Their grief never goes away. My grief is unbearable and I'm completely fucked up, but I have to ask myself, If their belief in god doesn't help the unbelievable, torturous pain and agony they go through, every minute of every day, then what good is it to believe in such a deity? Nothing and I mean nothing gives me any comfort and all the religious people in the group, who believe in god and parrot that, "their faith is getting them through it", still suffer just as great.

GOD DIED, the day my son died.


eris.discordia said...

Right on! I absolutely will NOT attend another "Christian" funeral here for the reasons stated above! The last funeral I attended was a tasteful Buddhist funeral that was very beautiful and moving. It was a neighbor's funeral. My son is best friends with the grand son of the deceased. Another neighbor, who is a Christian, also attended but he left almost immediately. When my son's friend asked the Christian neighbor why he left so quickly the guy replied, "There were too many Asians there".

That was an exact quote! I am not kidding you! That so-called Christian man told an 11 year old kid (who is Asian) that there were too many Asians at his grandmothers funeral! Thank goodness my son's friend is a true Buddhist and shook it off. But still, he is not stupid! The kid knows what racism is!

And to add insult to more insult, those Christian neighbors are constantly badgering the Buddhist family to come to their church and their Bible studies, etc..... These people are also active in the Booy Scout troop that my boys are in. So we all must deal with them from time to time.

What a bunch of racist, bigoted, hypocritical pigs! To say something like that to a kid makes it even more reprehensible!

eris.discordia said...

Dear Sconner,

I want you to know that my heart is with you though I can't even imagine the pain you must be experiencing from such a huge loss. From one human being to another I just want you to know that I would hold your hand and cry with you if I were there. Please know that while we may not know what to say, we truly care about you. Please feel free to vent all you want, This is a great site for that.

Wishing you to be surrounded in comfort in love,


Steve P said...

Dear sconner,

I can't even imagine what you are going thru'. Nothing could possibly fill the hole in one's heart from such a loss. Just wish someday you can eventually find peace.


Nina said...

Like Sconner, I lost a son. I wrote about it here before but not sure how many read the post about my son's memorial service and how I carefully kept religion out of it completely. I had people come up to me after and say that it was the best celebration of a young life they had ever witnessed.
It was very hard to keep it secular, but my son was a tree hugger and loved nature and I was not going to let anybody talk about God. In fact, the word was not even mentioned once.
I had a lot of persuasion to do it another way, but my son deserved to have his personality known. He died in a car accident going to get a sandwish at Arby's on a Friday afternoon at 3. He was not doing anything he was not supposed to be doing. Just unlucky on this horrible narrow stretch of road that continues to claim lives in our county.
I still feel his presence at times and I know it is in my head but I am comforted by it. I have had some strange things happen which I won't write about here, I would get a lot of flack for that on this site, I've noticed.
I am comforted by the knowledge that he was not afraid of death and spoke about it matter-of-factly many times the last year of life. I miss him so much and religious people just make me furious. I can not even listen to a word of crap. I stare and don't even smile, I just stare, like how dare you put your faith on me at this time. They think they are being helpful but I just get really mad.
Sconner, I hope you find some relief, it is so hard I know.

Unknown said...

nina and sconner,

your letters made me cry. i wish i could make the pain go away for you both.

i lost my 18 year old brother in a car accident nearly 2 years ago. my family has been completely changed by this. they were very religious (im the oldest of 8 children and was raised very fundamentalist). i was having major doubts about the church and religion in general just before the accident and when it happened i was challenged to look long and hard for the truth and found that it wasnt in any church. my family suffered terrible amounts of pain because of their confusion about where my brother might be, my mom worried that he wasnt in heaven because of his lifestyle and at times this caused extreme levels of depression for her. when they wernt worried about him suffering they were covering up their grief with the heaven band aid. grieving is so important for those left behind and also very respectful or the loved one who passed on. there was much pain and tears but not a lot of grieving, just depression and fear.
when my family became aware of my complete abandonment of faith they were very hurt. i worried that they would avoid me which was scarry becaseu my close family had become even closer and our relationships were helping me cope with the loss of my brother. after a while they noticed that i had peace about my brothers death. i dont spend hours crying into my pillow and bagging god for his forgiveness and praying that he is not in hell. my brother was a good guy, loving and peaceful and i believe that he is resting peacefully now. the strength and peace that i have is encouraging for my family and i think that they have all gone through major changes in their personal beliefs. i do wish that i protested such a ridiculous religious funeral. i hated every moment of it. it wasnt jeremy at all, it was disrespectful and fake. i would have loved to just hear stories about him and to cry with others who were hurting so badly. instead, me and my young brothers held each other quietly and cried while people around us danced and sung like fools. some of my extended family is secular and the funeral caused more pain for them then they should have ever experienced.

Nina said...

No one knew I was an athiest before my son's memorial service or funeral, I am sure I shocked everyone, some are still catholic, like my father and aunts and cousins.
Thank you for sharing the story about your brother. It is too sad to think about but we absolutely have to.
I wanted to respond and say that I know for a fact I am handling this better than any of my religious family. They can not even speak about him and I smile and share my best memories anytime I want and most are uncomfortable. I don't care.
At his service we did only talk about his life. Everyone got up and told stories and a few read some poems, but nothing resembling religious was said or done. I was so proud of that. I told other's before the event that Mike would be insulted if anyone assumed he was a god fearing christian. I did have some fights about it, but his life is what was important that day. Not some sky daddy for other's to pray to.
Yep, I made whomever even attempted to mention god uncomfortable with that stare. That "how dare you" stare.

Brad said...

I am a christian. That is a thoughtful. Post. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Deciding whether a person "knew Jesus" or not is pure torture. Heaven or hell, where did the beloved go? Religion sucks!


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