Scattered Thoughts on Religion

Ever since my world crashed down around me nearly four months ago, I’ve spent a fair amount of time wondering about God. Does God exist? If so, where was God when my baby was dying? And why didn’t God save her? Is God punishing me? Does heaven exist? Is that where she is? Can she see me? Will I see her again? Does she know how much I love her? How much I miss her?

I recall the early days, the blackest of black days, the shades in our bedroom down 24/7. Me, curled in the fetal position in bed, clutching a small purple baby quilt the hospital gave us, repeating the mantra-like words that Jenny prays in the film Forrest Gump“Dear God, make me a bird so I can fly far, far away from here. Dear God, make me a bird so I can fly far, far away from here. Dear God, make me a bird so I can fly far, far away from here.” The emotional pain was so intense it crept into my heart, literally, and I felt as though somebody were wringing my heart like a wet washcloth. I finally understood the true meaning of the phrase broken heart.

The minister from my Unitarian Universalist church visited our home after our daughter died.  I recall asking him if I was being punished by God, and this man, whom I do not know well at all, said “a punishment for what? Why would God punish you?” Although I shrugged noncommittally, in my head I was thinking: punishment for abandoning my Christian faith,  for yelling at my 3 year old,  for resenting my pregnancy, for not fully appreciating all that my husband does for me…

I had a laundry list of sins deserving this pain. If something this horrific had happened to me, surely I did something to deserve it.

In the book When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Jewish rabbi Harold Kushner explores some of the universal questions that humans ask when tragedy strikes. I’ll admit, despite the recommendation that I read this book and the amazing reviews online, I had a difficult time trudging through it.  There is one particular passage that angered me. Kushner presents a hypothetical scenario in which an infant is born with a congenital heart defect. He outlines two possibilities for the child’s life: “If he were to die shortly after birth, his parents would go home saddened and depressed, wondering what might have been. But then they would begin to make the effort to put the loss behind them and look to the future.” He then goes on to paint a different outcome, in which the baby is saved by the advances of modern medicine, survives, and makes a life for himself until, at the age of 35, he dies. Kushner writes: “Now his death causes more than a few days of sadness. It is a shattering tragedy for his wife and children, and a profoundly saddening event for all the other people in his life.”

Let me repeat that: “now his death causes more than a few days of sadness.” A few days. I am on day one hundred eleven. 111 days. Of sadness. Of despair. Of crying. Of “shattering tragedy.” It is not only my husband and myself who have been affected. Our living daughter, our parents, my husband’s siblings and our friends and family have all been affected by the death of this tiny life.  It doesn’t feel right to tell a holy man to F-off.

Many people have offered prayers for me. I’ll take them. If prayers are futile, no harm done. But maybe, just maybe, there is an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent deity somewhere “listening” to prayers. Who am I to say? As to what these believers pray for, or how prayer works, I do not have an answer.  I recently was fortunate enough to get a new job, an exciting opportunity, to which the details are not suited for this post. I was sharing this news with a woman I know, who practices the Muslim faith, and she raised her arms in the air, looked to the sky, and sang praises to the God she worships. I guess? But why would God grant me a new job and not save my baby girl? It just doesn’t make sense.

My Christian upbringing implores me to believe in God, an afterlife, a heaven. But I am selfishly, on a daily basis, asking The Universe/ God/ Divine Spirit/ Fate/ myself:

Why did this happen to me?”

“Why did this happen to me?”

“Why did this happen to me?

 

Regardless of your religion, faith, or belief system, I would love to know what you believe regarding your beloved who has passed.  Do you pray? If so, for what do you pray? How, if at all, do you make sense of the nonsensical tragedy you are enduring?

 

11 thoughts on “Scattered Thoughts on Religion”

  1. Oh, these are familiar waters to me. All of these questions I have had. I do pray, and it depends on the day as to what I pray. Right now, we are trying to get pregnant again, so it’s usually a prayer of “please let me give birth to a healthy child”.
    I have so much to say on this subject. One of the books that helped me through the loss of my first daughter in 2014 was Holding On To Hope by Nancy Guthrie. It is a study in Job. And from Job, I have this idea that the devil told God that I would stop being faithful if I lost my daughter. And God, believing in me and in his strength to uphold me, said, “Do it. She won’t fail me.” Which, being the stubborn girl I am, I remained desperately, clingingly faithful to God because, in the end, he wins. And even in the loss of my second daughter, I believe that while there is probably some reason it keeps happening, the devil is real and he wants me to give up, and he is going to throw everything at me within his power.
    I believe that God also redeems the broken moments. Because I’ve been through what I have been through, I have been granted a compassion to other women in this struggle. I write to people who say dumb things to stop saying dumb things. I open this conversation of pregnancy loss and infertility to everyone. I stand in the discomfort in an effort to bring awareness, not just for my situation but the situation of the ones who are silently suffering around me. My daughters didn’t die in vain. I honor them with my words and actions.
    But this is not me all the time. I still believe the lies. That I haven’t had a healthy pregnancy because I’m going to be a horrible mother. That I’ve committed some sin that I’m being punished for. That I’m not praying hard enough, devoting enough daily time with God, spending enough time in the community, or humbling myself to others. That I have too much pride or too much ugliness inside to carry a baby.
    Sorry for writing a book on your comment wall. This is why I am a blogger (ha!). Hope you find peace today that passes all understanding.

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  2. I am struggling with this so much today. “Why me?” My friend just had her third baby yesterday, a boy. And I would never wish this on anyone else, but I think “Why did I have to lose my son? Why was he taken from me and everyone else I know gets to keep theirs? Why does she get three kids and I lost my first one?” The “Whys” can drive you absolutely crazy. They will send me into a massive pit of anger and bitterness towards everyone. I’ve been leaning on the song “Held” today by Natalie Grant.

    “This is what it means to be held
    How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
    And you survive
    This is what it is to be loved
    And to know that the promise was
    When everything fell we’d be held”

    I have to remember that God (I am Christian) didn’t promise a life without pain but he promised to be there when we were in pain.

    Thinking of you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. Although I don’t currently call myself a Christian, I do love this song. Grant’s voice is pure and the message is so powerful. Definitely a tear-jerker. Wishing you peace today and always. 💕

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  3. I think if anyone looks at this world with honest eyes, the only scenario that makes any sense is that there is no god. At least no god that is caring and has power. I don’t actually find this reality that distressing, I know we are here for a short life and we have to live fully, bad fortune is random, there is no plan and no reason. I wrote a blog post on my thoughts about religion a while ago if you want to read some more. I’m sorry that you’re struggling with all of this in addition to everything else x

    https://anelefunkneverforgets.wordpress.com/2016/09/15/the-only-athiests-in-the-congregation/

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing. My beliefs have definitely been turned upside down after this whole thing. I used to be very Christian then in college became more agnostic. I’ve considered myself to be Unitarian Universalist for about 10 years now, believing that people should be more concerned about living this life than wondering about an afterlife that may not even occur. I suppose it doesn’t really matter what happens when we die…

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  4. I get stuck on the “why’s” some days. I think in my head, in my situation I am able to stop the why’s by “rationalizing” that my WHOO’s life was going to be too short whether or not I had pressed for further examination. He was having seizures. Lots. Daily. *mom of 3 living daughters, pretty in tune with my body*
    My NP said it was his struggling to get control of his limbs. I allowed her explanation and my silly standby for why everything was different this time (first pregnancy after donating a kidney) to override my gut feeling that something was wrong.
    So my why’s and what ifs usually end by me trying to tell myself that I carried him for his whole life and if he had to die I’m glad he was carried and loved by us his whole life instead of the struggle of a preemie delivery and the nicu.
    That only works when I can convince myself that his lifeline was fated and there was nothing we could have done to change that. Other times I’m inconsolable because I should have known and I should have done something.

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  5. Thank you for being so honest! I don’t have an answer and I struggle with this question too.
    One pastor said to us: if you did get an answer as to why, what would it bring you? It wouldn’t take away your pain and hurt and loss. He came to the conclusion that the real question is: do I trust God? Do I believe He is good and always there for me.
    I am still trying to find my answer. When my daughter died, I was devastated. I was wondering how she was doing for quite some weeks. Really worried. That was new to me, to feel so unsettled about it. I argued with God a lot: “You can give her back now, she really needs to be nursed”. It may sound weird, but in those weeks I’ve felt God speaking to me in several ways, through postcards, emails, whatsappmessages and songs and little by little I began to have peace about that aspect: Amanda, my daughter, is safe and completely well.
    I am still wondering why this happened, I miss her like crazy, I am hurt. But I do also have found some peace.
    Would it be an idea to just scream your sorrows and pain and accusations out towards God? If He exists, He has made you and your daughters and He can handle whatever you do.
    As for me, slowly (my loss happened in March 2017) I am gaining a little more trust in God back again. but for a couple of months I wasn’t able to feel anything besides grief. It is still that way most of the day. A good friend said to me: Ineke, if your sorrow is so big, you cannot feel anything besides that. It helped me to calm a bit and to find trust that I might feel God again someday in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting! I don’t feel as angry with God as I do with my midwife and myself. I don’t truly believe that God, if God exists, is the type of all-knowing being that kills babies (or anyone, actually). I guess what I really want reassurance about is that my baby is ok. That she’s not in pain, that she’s maybe with somebody who has passed before (like one of my grandparents, aunts, or cousin). These are answers we don’t get to have. It’s a bit unsettling. I am glad to hear that you are finding peace in your life. Sending big hugs.

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  6. Oh how I struggled mightily in the beginning. And the hard truth is that there really is no end to this grief when your child is not with you. The Rabbi was terribly mistaken. Child loss at any age will last forever…not only days or weeks. I have resigned to the fact that this pain will always be just a stone’s throw away from any joyful moment in my life because I’ll always think about the fact that he’s not sharing a special moment in time with us. Yet, in the 13 months that Ian has been gone, I am learning how to live again…slowly. For me, in my most desperate and darkest moments, I’ve cried out to God to SHOW me that my son is okay. I felt a tremendous need to know that he was safe in heaven. God has sent me signs/messages to help me to continue to live when I felt like dying. The signs I received are so subtle and some may say they are nothing more than a grieving mother’s overactive imagination. But, I know in my heart that the signs were real. I had to learn to really look and SEE things that are outside of this realm…little tiny things that only I would know is a sign or a response to desperate prayer. Oh how I wish we weren’t the ones to suffer in this way. I still don’t get it and have many of the same questions you have. I pray that God will show you some small sign in the days to come that will bring a measure of peace back to your soul. I believe our children are safe with God. We will see them again. God understands our pain and questions. We are still his daughters.

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