Their Bad Mother

Their Bad Mother

The Church Of The Troubled Mind

I keep trying to write about how my dad’s death has affected my feelings about God and religion and worship and faith. I keep trying, and failing.

I’m failing, in part, because it’s still so raw. The pain still keeps me up at night. But I’m failing, too, because I’m just that confused. And it feels as though there’s a cost to that confusion, that in remaining confused, I’m missing some vital ingredient in a recipe for coping with grief. That if I could just sort this out, I’d feel better.


Part of the issue is this: I still have my dad’s cremated remains. I’d had a plan for those remains, but I’m now doubting that plan, in part because of a lingering attachment to and faith in Catholic ritual. I just don’t know to what extent I should allow the hangover from my Catholic upbringing affect my decisions here. And I don’t know that because I don’t know whether that hangover is just a hangover, or lingering sincere belief.

I don’t know. Like I said, I don’t know how to write about this, because I’m not sure, exactly, that I want to write about this, because every time I make the attempt, I can feel my anxiety rise.

But I need to sort this out. I do. The need presses on me like a physical weight.

This, all of this, is, some days, too hard.

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posted October 8, 2009 at 12:06 pm

When I read this part of a post at Oh, The Joys, I was reminded of your recent posts:
“I used to think Church was only for the faithful.
Then one day, about ten years ago, I argued about this with my Grandfather.
“Church isn’t for people with absolute faith,” he said angrily. “Church is about community. It’s a place where you go to struggle through your questions about faith with the support of others.”
I remember this moment so vividly.

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Thom Hunter

posted October 8, 2009 at 12:18 pm

My father died far away and alone. When my siblings and I gathered for his funeral, grief was difficult to muster and it seemed we were doing one more task, rather than spending one last moment with our father’s earthly remains. Actually, this distancing from what we were doing helped me realize that he had already gone and we were indeed performing a task, one that would not be judged or remarked on by him. It was for us. We did the best we could . . . and then we each took our memories with us as we parted . . . and on those we grieved. I don’t think we could have done that had we not moved on from the present . . . that task.

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posted October 8, 2009 at 8:58 pm

The death of my son took everything I thought I believed about faith, religion and God, shook it up and dumped it all out in a big jumbled mess on the floor.
Initially I took GREAT faith and comfort in all things spiritual. But that peace and comfort suddenly vanished and it left me in a very cold, dark, confusing place and try as I might I could not get it back.
I went inactive from the faith I practiced from childhood because it was just too much stress and I put all of my raging hatred and anger on the shoulders of God. We aren’t really that close anyway and frankly…it was much less damaging then putting it on a person that I love.
Death and beliefs are very tied together.
Anyone who loses a person that is that close to them that says that they don’t question SOMETHING about God, faith or their beliefs (current or former) is lying.
It’s a confusing time to almost everyone, though for some lucky souls the loss suddenly clarifies things for them. They are in the minority, though.
Coming to terms and finding out where you are comfortable and resolving these feelings is tough but necessary…especially if it’s causing you such anxiety. It’s a long, but important process and one I am still muddling through some 6 years later. I don’t envy the things you have to work out but you are making a very good start here.
Good luck, friend. I am not nearly as wise as you, my loss is not the same and you have so many available to you, but please know my inbox is always open to you if you need an ear. xo

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posted October 9, 2009 at 11:01 am

First time commenter.
My father passed away in June and fortunately requested back in 2000 that I take his remains and scatter them off the coast of Bali, Indonesia (not an easy task considering I live in Chicago and have two young children). Unfortunately my mother is a firm believer in the Catholic faith that we were all raised with, this has caused some strain. However in the end I will do what my father asked. His remains are in my house and will be until I can make that journey. Sure there are days I am ready to book the next flight so I can say my final goodbye but other days I have comfort knowing he is with me and my children. Take your time figuring these out – the only one who has to live with your decision is yourself.

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posted October 9, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Mother Teresa struggled with faith daily and it was a huge burden for her. There is a book about it, but I can’t remember the name. For me, that was actually heartening to read that Mother Teresa struggled with her faith. Even the greatest of us have questions, it is ok to question, it is ok to be unsure. And if ritual is comforting, there is nothing wrong in taking comfort from the ritual even if you are unsure about what you believe about the things behind the ritual. Ritual can be comforting just for being a ritual. I still use the sign of the cross when I pray because it is a comforting ritual for me. I practice Christianity because the familiarity of it is comfortable for me though I am not sure I believe in Christ as the savior, and obviously I do not believe that the only way to heaven is through Christ. But I believe Christ as a savior and the son of God is possible, and again, it is comfortable, so whatever helps me, gives me strength, keeps me praying and trying to live the best life I can as God wants me to, for me, that is enough to stick with it.
Just my .02, and I hope it helps you in your struggles. If not, disregard, and find what does help. I wish you well on that path because it is hard.
Melissa in Durham

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Stone Fox

posted October 10, 2009 at 3:12 am

Why is the need so pressing to settle this now? Faith and spirituality are ever-changing and ever-evolving experiences. Do you believe in God? Maybe. Maybe *is* a good enough answer. Maybe is a perfectly great answer. Until you experience something to change that answer, Maybe can do just fine.
Stop over-thinking this; it seems like you are making yourself crazy by questioning if what you feel is really what you feel. I know, from my own experience with losing my Mom, that the whole world shifts. Things that seemed so clear become completely fogged over when you look at them too long. Tasks that seemed so vitally important seconds ago are suddenly shuffled to the bottom of the pile. For no apparent reason.
You say confusion, I see numbness. Stomach done jes fell out my shoes paralysis.
What really is important: your feelings are *never* wrong. It is possible to feel angry and put-upon and nostalgic and giggly all at the same time.
Start writing. You don’t need a starting point; start anywhere you want, even if it’s in the middle of the giant jumble of words and half-formed thoughts that are all running around in your brain yelling at the top of their lungs. When someone you love dies, there are no rules, and no expectations.

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posted October 12, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Think of it this way… your dad suffered (mentally) terribly… and now he is at peace. No worries No pain No suffering any more!
So celebrate his life, celebrate your memories, celebrate your dad!

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