Okay. So I'm probably going to alienate some people or piss some people off with this post today, but you know what? The reason I'm writing it in the first place is because I feel alienated every single day, by the very same people who will be angry or upset by this post. Besides, my intention is not to upset anyone. My intention is, as always, to tell the truth. And sometimes the truth pisses people off.
So here we go. It's been 3 years and 3 months since my husband's sudden death. In that time, there have, of course, been many comments and sentiments said to me by others, that have been hurtful or ignorant or unhelpful. However, in my experience, and I am only speaking for myself here, it is the comments and thoughts made by very religious people that have been the most hurtful and sometimes downright rude. And after 3 plus years of nodding my head or smiling or not saying anything back to them, I am fed up.
Let me be clear. I have many religious friends, and people in my life who have a strong faith. There are many friends and family and other widowed people who, although they are religious, realize that I am not, and therefore, they don't ever push their views on me or make comments which they know would only be hurtful to me. I highly appreciate these people, because they have respect for me, and I have respect for them. There are many people of faith out in the world that are also beautifully and wonderfully open-minded and nonjudgmental. But this post isn't about those people. This post is about all the others, who, unfortunately, outweigh the "good" religious types by a pretty big margin.
Like many widowed people, I run into and deal with thoughtless comments about my loss on a regular basis. Sometimes it is in person, other times it is on the internet. The comments in person are mainly from non-widowed people, and the ones online are from widowed and non-widowed alike. Since I belong to quite a few closed/private groups for widowed people on Facebook, there are a lot of opinions flying at me. None of the groups I am part of advertise themselves as being religion-based groups, yet it seems that lately, the nutty religious types are overwhelming the rest of us. If I post about an issue or emotion I'm having, or just a rough day, often I will get replies such as just pray, Trust in the Lord, everything happens for a reason, God wont give you more than you can handle, we have no control over what happens to us - leave that to God, etc, etc , etc ..... Now, depending on how many of these comments I get, often times I simply ignore them and don't respond to it. However, when it's being pushed on you by multiple people, it can get annoying and feel like an attack. If I respond by simply telling them I am not religious, therefore those comments aren't really helpful, then I am bombarded and judged, with replies like: "I can't see even getting through this without God in your life", or "perhaps you need to be Saved." Nope. Don't need to be saved, and I'm doing just fine without religion, thank you very much. What I need is to not be judged for my beliefs, and to not be made to feel like I am somehow "less than" you because you are a person of Faith.
If it matters, I will share what I do believe. Yes, I believe in God. Sort of. To me, the term God is more of a concept or an idea. I believe that God is whatever you think it is. A higher power of some kind, yes, but that could mean many things. It could be nature, or a force of some kind. I believe in some form of that, and I truly believe that people should believe or not believe in whatever it is that helps them or comforts them in some way. I do not follow any religion, nor read any Bible, nor do I believe in "God's Plan" or "Heaven and Hell" or "Satan" or any of that stuff. I generally think that things happen randomly, and that sometimes life is beautiful, and sometimes life sucks. People live and people die. My husband had a sudden heart-attack at age 46 with zero warning or symptoms, because he had a crappy father that didn't bother to tell him his medical history, and so he was walking around earth as a time-bomb and didn't know it. He did NOT die as part of some ridiculous PLAN that God has, and everytime someone tries to push that idea down my throat as if they know that for a fact, it is not only hurtful, it is offensive.
I don't know what happens when we die, and I don't pretend to know. I do know that science says energy cannot be destroyed, and that humans are made up of energy. Everything is. So, when we die and our souls leave our physical bodies, I assume and I hope and I think, that our energy and our cells and our being, is alive out there somewhere in the universe. Is it a star, a plant, a cloud, part of the earth, a sunrise? I don't know. And because I don't know, I try to focus on what I do know - the here and now. Life. Being a good person who gives to others. Leaving behind a legacy that I did something important, and that I was loved and gave love. Not so I might get into some Heavenly place, but because it feels good. I take credit for all of my own accomplishments, and my mistakes. I do not give that credit to God. I am the one who has gotten myself through this Hell for 3 plus years. I am the one who decides to wake up each day and give it another shot. I am the one who hasn't given up. I did that. I'm doing that. Me.
At my husband's funeral, someone that I barely know (a co-worker of Don's I think) came up to me and said: "Now you can feel better because your husband was called Home to Jesus." I wanted to explode with fury and fire, but I was in too much of a fog, and too exhausted and in shock to respond. But inside, I was crying. My heart was crying. Now I can feel better? Better? My husband just f**king died, and he wasn't sick, and he wasn't in pain of any kind, and we were HAPPY, and we just started our lives together, and now he is just gone forever. He is with Jesus? He is home? Home? No. Our home is home. Our life here was home. A couple weeks later, at a family gathering, a friend of my family gave me the "God's plan" speech out of nowhere, and I replied with a shaky (because I was about to cry): "Actually, I don't believe in that concept, but thank you anyway." She got really upset with me, and said very seriously and sternly: "Well, you'd better start believing and you'd better start reading your Bible, or you will go to Hell and you will never see your husband ever again." Wow. Thank you for threatening me. That is so helpful and kind of you. I could sit here and list all the many horrible religious-themed comments I have received over hte past 3 years, but then this post would go on forever, and it's already too long. I run a closed group on Facebook called: "Non-religious Widows and Widowers Club", and I have also facilitated the Round Table for Non-Religious, Atheist, and Agnostics at Camp Widow, 2 times now. The stories of cruel and mean comments coming from some religious people that are thoughtlessly lobbed at us, continues to astound me. Someone joked in our last meeting at Camp Widow that she tried "praying the religious meanies away, but it didn't work. They're still here."
As most of you know, I am in the midst of writing a book about the loss of my husband, and our love story. recently, it was suggested to me by a widow friend, with the best of intentions, that perhaps I should consider "toning down my views on religion while promoting the book." I understood what she was saying, and I understood why. But I cannot do that. It goes against everything that I am, and everything that makes my book different. The phrase "brutally awful truth" is in the title of my book, and I intend to tell the truth, always. If you don't want to hear it, just pray. Maybe I will disappear. If not, then please don't worry about it. I take no responsibility for this post. It was all part of God's Plan.