Seeking the Grief Stories of Non-Believers for “Grief Beyond Belief” Book

If you are an atheist. agnostic, Humanist, skeptic, freethinker, or some other sort of non-believer in God, the supernatural or any kind of afterlife — and you have an experience (or experiences) with grief — we want to hear about it.

I am going to be collaborating on a book about faith-free grief with Greta Christina, atheist blogger and author of Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why and, Why Are You Atheists So Angry: 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, are looking for personal stories from non-believers about their experiences with grief. We want to hear from you if you:

  • were a non-believer at the time you experienced the loss/grief;
  • became a non-believer while you were acutely grieving;
  • re-experienced old griefs or losses when you became a non-believer;
  • have any other experience related to faith-free grief that you want to tell us about.

We want to hear all stories — positive, negative, mixed, complex, changing over time. And we want to hear both the parts that relate to your secularism and the parts that are just about grief — who you lost, how it affected you, what comforted you, and how you have or have not learned to live with your grief.

The following questions may help you get started, but please don’t take them as either limits or requirements. You are not expected to answer every question or touch on every topic. If you have something to say about your experience of faith-free grief, whether or not it fits one of these categories, we want to hear it.

  • What has your experience of grief been like? What have been some of your feelings, thoughts, actions?
  • Do you think you experience grief differently than believers? If you were once a believer, do you experience grief differently as a non-believer than you did as a believer?
  • Are there experiences of grief that you think are the same or similar for everyone — religious or not?
  • How has it been dealing with religious believers — in your family, friends, or the world in general?
  • What kind of successes or difficulties have you encountered in seeking grief support that felt appropriate for your needs?
  • Have caregivers (therapists, support groups, doctors or other medical providers) assumed that you were religious, or pressed religion on you? If so, what was your experience of that?
  • How do you feel about religion generally when it comes to your grief? For instance: Has grief made you wish that you believed? Has grief made you angry about religion? Has grief made you more sympathetic with believers? Are there other feelings you’ve had about religion related to grief?
  • Was death or grief part of why you became an atheist? If so, what was that experience like?
  • If you have mental health issues (such as depression), how has grief affected that?
  • Has your experience of grief has changed over time — and if so, how?
  • What have other people done or said (family, friends, or anyone) that’s helped you with your grief? What have other people done or said that’s been unhelpful?
  • Have you gotten support from atheist communities — either online or in-person, either grief-specific support or more general community support? What was your experience of that?
  • Are there secular ideas about death and grief that you’ve found helpful? (This can include songs, poems, quotations, philosophies, books, movies, TV shows, or anything else.)

Again — please don’t feel limited by these categories, and don’t feel that you have to respond to all of them. If you have something to say about your experience of faith-free grief, we want to hear it.

You can post your stories here as comments, or email them privately to griefbeyondbelief@gmail.com. Please let us know how you would prefer to be quoted: by your full name, your first name only, your online handle, or a made-up name. (If you don’t tell us, we’ll err on the side of caution, and will use a made-up name.) Thank you so much — we know these can be difficult experiences to write about, and we intensely appreciate you doing this to help other people.

-Greta Christina and Rebecca Hensler

UPDATE/ CLARIFICATION: Some questions we’ve gotten about this project have made us realize that we need to clarify. We’re looking for grief stories from non-believers — but we’re not seeking submissions for an anthology that we’re editing. We’re seeking personal accounts that we’ll be using for our research, and that we’ll be quoting from in the book. People sending in stories don’t have to be professional or even semi-professional writers, and stories will probably not be printed in their entirety (unless they’re very short): we’ll be excerpting them/ quoting from them.  Thanks.

 

 

About Rebecca Hensler

Rebecca Hensler founded Grief Beyond Belief in 2011, following the death of her infant son Jude. She runs Grief Beyond Belief from her home and continues to write and speak on the topics of grief without faith and secular grief support.

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18 Responses to Seeking the Grief Stories of Non-Believers for “Grief Beyond Belief” Book

  1. Madhusudan Katti June 30, 2014 at 10:29 pm #

    Dear Rebecca and Christina,

    I’m not sure if these stories of my own loss fit the bill, but here they are, from several blog posts over the past two years, starting with one written as I was flying back to India to reach my mother’s deathbed:

    http://coyot.es/reconciliationecology/2012/01/26/sari-stove-fire/

    Another post written a few days after she died:

    http://coyot.es/reconciliationecology/2012/01/29/why-i-hope-sachin-tendulkar-never-gets-his-100th-hundred/

    This is perhaps the one most relevant to you, where I address our lack of faith while appreciating the prayers offered by those friends who do believe:

    http://coyot.es/reconciliationecology/2012/02/11/the-universe-itself-exists-within-us-a-note-of-thanks/

    More recently, a post and poem about being unmothered, from this Mother’s Day:

    http://coyot.es/reconciliationecology/2014/05/11/the-contours-of-her-sari/

    Earlier, I had also written this tribute to my other mother, my mother-in-law:

    http://coyot.es/reconciliationecology/2010/09/05/requiem-for-a-teacher-and-a-mother/

    If you find something useful in the above, or have questions for me, please feel free to contact me – I’m leafwarbler on twitter and gmail. I look forward to reading your book!

    Madhu

  2. Jessica Escobedo July 1, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    I wrote a poem in honor of a dear friend who recently lost her long battle with breast cancer. Use it if you like.

    I walked into the ocean and added salt to the sea. The waves washed over me, waves that pushed and pulled on my heart, so raw with the loss of you. What tears of sadness I have are small, they drip unnoticed into the vast ocean of mother Earth’s tears. She cries tears of joy that you have returned to be part of her. Back to the sea, from whence we came.
    -Jessica Escobedo

  3. tamarjit July 1, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    Are we to tell our story here?

  4. tamarjit July 1, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    Mine is long….and I am still traveling through ti 10 years later.

  5. Jill Martinez July 1, 2014 at 8:15 pm #

    Are you interested in all grief, or only grief around death/dying?

  6. wonder July 2, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    As an only child my parents were agnostic and I was atheist, though my father and I loved to study religion from an academic viewpoint. My mother died a few months ago and this has caused a fundamental shift in the relationship I have with my father. He’s found comfort in his new found faith (though I’m not really sure what it is), while my own beliefs in my atheism have grown. He pressured me to go to church with him, and when filling out the form for my mother’s headstone he decided to put a cross on the top. I thought about saying something that I’m not sure my mother would have been thrilled about that.
    At that point I realized that it is true that the rituals of death and mourning are not for the person who has died, they are for everyone they’ve left behind. When people who don’t know me very well hear that my mother has died they reflexively say “I’ll say a prayer for for”, I know they mean well and for them it’s a convenient way to get out of an awkward conversation. I am glad that my father has found comfort in his new religion, but for me as an atheist I am finding comfort in dealing with the mess left behind rather than trying to hide it behind a convenient prayer. It makes things really tough in the short term, but I have the ‘faith’ that I will get through it. As for my relationship with my father we are still close but it is with the knowledge that religion has been added to politics in terms of the topics we just can’t talk about anymore.

  7. Skeptical Bunny July 2, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    I was raised Catholic and all the entails. I didn’t know or understand until later in life that my parents felt compelled to raise us Catholic because it’s just what the family did. They weren’t religious and half the time they sent us to church, they didn’t go themselves. However, they did believe in God. From the time I was 12 or so, I struggled with belief and faith. I was sent more than once to the counselors office for questioning things and my parents were called in as well. They told me to just get along, to just accept in public and I could believe whatever I wanted privately. I did that for a long while and I even tried to make it real for myself, but I couldn’t. I have been a full out non-believer for the past 7 or 8 years now.

    Last April, my father was diagnosed with a rare bile duct cancer. I read extensively on any report I could find and knew that he wouldn’t make it. There was a zero percent chance when it was found in stage 4 and could not be operated on. I began preparing myself almost right away. My parents wanted to fight it and Dad started chemo. It made him so sick and I asked him to take a break after a few months, but he wouldn’t. He wanted to fight for my mom because he didn’t want to leave her. I don’t think anyone in my immediately family spoke of praying during this time, although so many outsiders did. I heard a lot about god’s will and a ton of meant to be’s but I tried to understand that people just don’t know what to say.

    My mom did speak of heaven though. I think it helped her cope by “knowing” if dad was going to die, she would see him again in that mystical place. It crossed my mind more than once that it would be easier if I did believe. It would be easier to think that he was going some place better, that his family would be there, that we would all see him again. Such comforting thoughts. But I couldn’t even pretend.

    Dad only last 6 months from his diagnosis. I took him to all his appointments and spent more time with him than I had in a very long time. We spoke of things we never had before and I saw him differently than I had in the past. He died without being in a lot of pain and for that, I was grateful.

    Afterwards, everyone was “praying for us” and knew we would be ok, and wanted us to know we would see him again. I always took the feeling of compassion that was meant, knowing they were wrong.

    We didn’t have a service because my father didn’t want one. He thought they were ghoulish. My mom still hopes there is a heaven so she will see him again and I know that he is just gone.

    I miss him terribly, but I have the memories of a lifetime to keep with me. I know that his suffering ended and that being the ones left is the difficult part. But I never once bargained or tried to pray or to make any kind of deals. My father’s illness and death solidified for me that I am a non-believer. If I had even one ounce of belief left in me, this would have been the time that it surfaced, because I love(d) my father more than anything in the world and wanted him with me forever AND I would have traded anything for him to be able to stay here and be healthy, but I knew in my heart that getting on my knees and asking for help from something that didn’t exist wouldn’t help. I also knew that if I did believe and asked for that help, the outcome would have been the same. Then I would have to have lied to myself that it was “His” will, starting the never ending cycle of justification for unanswered prayers.

    Grief is difficult and complicated. As non-believers, we don’t get to draw any solace that it was for a reason, or that we will see our loved ones again. The end, is the end. I can’t be mad at a god I don’t believe in, so there isn’t anywhere to direct that anger. I have to deal with my emotions and try step by step to get through the process. I lean on my husband and process through the pain and I know that in time, I will feel better. I will miss my dad always, but I know that I can keep him with me in many ways and that he does live on through me and my children.

  8. Monica Fiorelli Marusic July 2, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

    I am from a Catholic family, went to Catholic school through my childhood. By graduation, I was already a nonbeliever.

    Fast forward some years, married into another Catholic family (although he too is a nonbeliever). Our conditional parental love at home is what brought us together. Hubby’s father suffered a fall that left him a quadriplegic for 9 years before he died. My mother in law decided it was immoral to pull life support when it occurred, despite my FIL’s request. He ended up having to hold on (no living will or advanced directive) and eventually came back to his home for my MIL to care for him 24/7.

    It wore her down and she became sick. She lasted about 6 years before succumbing to cancer, all while being his caregiver.

    With both deaths behind me, I found comfort in the laws of physics…. energy is not created nor destroyed… and this is verifiable accurate and absolute. Science shows how we are all made of stardust from exploding stars and when we die, we return to those original elements.

    Funerals/wakes are for the living. I find no comfort in attending any service. I’m sure I was frowned upon for not taking communion at mass for their services but I will not do something I don’t believe in. Some argued that “it’s what she/he would have wanted…. to see you take communion”. Really? The guilt, shame, and fear instilled is ever present but I don’t buy into it.

    To help with grief, I read the Tibetan Book of the Dead and several Buddhist books that deal with grieving. Basically, understanding that all emotions are transcient and fluid, I found comfort in knowing that it will pass. It always does. I find hope in the living memories.

    I will always be the black sheep of the family and that’s okay. If I’m not accepted unconditionally by my own parents, then I can seek it elsewhere.

    I am bothered by the countless “I’ll pray for you”, “They are in heaven now”, etc. etc. etc. I often wonder if they even realize their ignorance. We are not all believers. Most of us are quiet nonbelievers too. I would never say Merry Christmas to my Muslim friend or Happy Easter to my Jewish friend.

    All in all, my main advice is to complete a living will. Don’t assume your loved ones are going to do what you would do. Some are morally objected to it and won’t, like my MIL. Keep control and decide on how you want to handle end of life choices.

  9. Harold Kirby July 3, 2014 at 4:44 am #

    There are many kinds of grief and through our life we usually experience most of them. I will talk in generalities about my own loss. I will preface this with the fact that I was once or rather I once tried to be a believer in a deity.
    When experiencing the loss of a loved one, I would try to seek comfort in the thought that they lived on or that I would see them again. I would try to ask for relief of the anguish I was feeling.
    At some point long ago I realized I was going through the motions and doing this ritual merely because society expected it of me.
    I later in life experienced a very close loss. Someone who meant and still means a great deal to me. Rather than continuing the deception of religion, I decided to face the loss head on and discovered no difference. I was shocked actually. All the religion and projection I used in the past did absolutely nothing to ease my pain. I decided to become more rational and understand that ultimately all we have is now and now is what is important.
    I still experience grief and loss and always will, but rather than pin my hopes on some “what if” eventuality I am a little more grounded and a great deal more thankful for the time I do have with my loved ones.
    I have had the honor of witnessing and being present at the passing of loved ones. This moment is not diminished at all with the lack of religion. The monumental grief can only be held back by a feeling of thankfulness that such wonderful people were present in my (one’s) life.
    I will admit that most of the times I accept the “prayers” of others as merely well wishes and positive thoughts. However, those well wishers can become intrusive and I hate to admit spark anger in me with their delusional thinking of “it is his plan” “they are with god now” and so on.
    So, nothing exactly profound or revealing in my choices other than grief is grief and it is best to deal with it rather than play mind games with yourself and fool yourself with lies about some being in the sky that likes to poke us with sticks for amusement.

  10. cags July 7, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

    In the August September issue of Free Inquiry an essay that I wrote about the death of my son will appear. It is entitles “Why I am Not Catholic: Weekends with Estelle.” In a similar vein, I have written the following specifically in regards to my grieving process as an atheist:

    In 1999, my wife and I found out that we were going to have a bouncing baby boy. My daughter—my only child—was going to be a sister at the ripe old age of 14. This was surprising news considering my wife suffered from endometriosis and, despite years of testing, medications, and surgery, we were apprised by the medical profession that Kathy’s chances of getting pregnant were slim to none. I was on the verge of losing any semblance of religiosity or faith at this point in my life. Not due to any particular incident; just reality. With this newfound information, however, I thought, perhaps, God was pulling off one of those miraculous events that we haven’t heard about for…oh…2000 years or so. I had just received a promotion at work, we had recently purchased a new car, and now, with this joyous news, I also mortgaged a brand new home. Life was good.
    Michael was born on April 2, 2000. Three months into his life we noticed that he would occasionally stop breathing, turning blue. We rushed him to the emergency room where the dreadful results of his CAT scan were delivered to us: Michael was suffering from lissencephaly, a rare genetic
    disorder—comparable to a lightning strike—caused by the mosaicking of his 17th chromosome. His brain, the neurologist informed us, would not develop. This would leave Michael agonizingly disabled. There would be no running jumping, playing ball, no school plays, and no graduations. His health, we were told, would worsen over time, as his body would outgrow his minimal brain function. The average life span for children with lissencephaly was two years. I was unprepared for such a diagnosis. My entire world crumbled around me. I immediately went to the hospital chapel and prayed for Michael. I was forthright with my doubt, but surely my sins were not my son’s. I asked God to rectify His mistake.
    For eight years my wife, daughter, mother, and I cared for Michael. The blue spells that he experienced at 3-months escalated to full-blown grand mal seizures. The doctors believed that children didn’t feel pain when seizing, but evidently Michael did. He grimaced at their onset and cried when they ended. The poor little guy couldn’t walk, talk, see, or do any of the activities that we take for granted on a daily basis. He was living a life of perpetual suffering and it was our mission to minimalize his pain and to make him as content as possible. As a family, we leaned on each other. Michael needed more than just our love, however, so there were many trips to Boston Children’s Hospital. We had an amazing pediatric neurologist who, through trial and error, found a mixture of drugs—both conventional and experimental—that managed to keep my son reasonably comfortable.
    Since God had given up on us, I gave up on God. Theological nonsense became provocative: “God only gives children like Michael to parents who can handle it,” “He is truly a blessing,” “You’ll all be given the gift of heaven.” People talking about their own lives was also quite irritating. Listening to professional athletes thanking Jesus Christ because they can throw a football, or a deluded actor crediting God for his Academy Award, particularly when I’m cradling my son while he is having a devastating seizure, angered me to no end. I began to look for answers elsewhere. I picked up a copy of Richard Dawkins’, The Blind Watchmaker, and found solace in knowing that biological anomalies were natural occurrences, not a form of punishment from a sadistic God. I then read Christopher Hitchens, and Jennifer Michael Hecht. In fact, I was reading Jennifer’s voluminous book, Doubt, when Michael became gravely ill. His digestive system began to fail and he had begun, unbeknownst to us, aspirating his food.
    Aspirational pneumonia is what subsequently killed Michael. A large mass had formed in his lungs and it was, largely due to his fragile condition, rendered inoperable. Once given the prognosis, my wife and I had to wait for his death to arrive. It was a harrowing ordeal. While in the hospital, I read Doubt and listened to the radio, not wanting to talk to anyone or to be anywhere else. I was angry, confused, tired, irritable, and very, very sad. This was something, I thought to myself, only experienced by other people; it was a nightmare that was without an end. In the middle of the night I woke up and watched as Michael took his last breath. I stayed behind, in the room, alone with my little guy. When I was finally able to rise up from his bedside, I informed the nurses that I was going home. “This is the hardest part,” I told them, “leaving him behind.”
    I know I’ll never get over Michael’s death. While theists might search awkwardly for answers and assume their child has departed for a new home in a glorious heaven, I considered the frailty of human life, how temporary our existence really is, and how catastrophe can strike at any moment. I never understood the notion of a good and caring God, especially after I began reading the Bible, but if this was, in any way, the result of His actions, then I had made the right decision to cut all ties with this so-called deity. As a loving father, I knew full well the meaning of love; I held it in my arms every day, for eight years. The Christian God was nothing like me, and if I possessed magical powers of the sort often attributed to this Heavenly Father, I wouldn’t allow for suffering, forbidden fruit or no forbidden fruit! I was a product of hereditary Catholicism where suffering and guilt are part of the church doctrine, but I wasn’t going to let this weigh on me.
    One-hundred years before my birth a man named Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species. He surmised that trans-generational mutations made animals better adaptable to their environments. If Michael’s mutation had made him stronger somehow, it would have been a trait transmitted to the next generation. Regrettably, this was not the case. He was destined to suffer a terrible fate. Biologically, this explanation revealed the tragic consequences of the world we live in. There is no divine power guiding our every move, deciding who lives and who dies. Being an atheist lifted that entire persona of guilt. This wasn’t anyone’s fault, it was the product of being a human mammal, and it brought to the forefront our susceptibility to disease, bacteria, viruses, and genetic defects. I grieved for Michael, and still do to this day, but there was nothing I could have done to prevent this. I cared for him with all of my being. I was grateful that I spent 8 years with him, but I was tired. My wife was tired. And, probably, Michael was tired. That sweet little boy had long outlived his expiration date and his misery came to an end. That is how I rationalize his death, and I grieve only for him.
    I mentioned previously that I had hoped God wasn’t holding Michael responsible for my godlessness; for my sins. By the time of Michael’s death, I no longer cared about this matter and never gave it a second thought. But the Biblical God does just that, he blames all of mankind, and especially women, for the sins of His two original troglodytes. Why would anyone want to live their life with such anemic reasons for the good and bad things that inevitably occur in one’s life? I’m glad I’ve left that nonsense in the past.

  11. jdunn July 14, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    Ten years ago today, I was talking on the phone with my 50 year old brother, 1600 miles away. He was my only sibling; our mother had passed away seven years earlier, our father was still alive, living two hours away from my brother. We were discussing our upcoming get together/vacation, and laughing at the things we always laughed at during our too-seldom phone conversations.

    The details being still fresh and too painful, even 10 years on, the gist is that he died of a massive heart attack while I was on the phone with him. The suddenness of it, the sadness of it, will never be understood…except in the non-believing world I’ve lived in for the last 40+ years.

    Trying to fit a supreme being into this world of good, bad, pain, joy never worked for me. Before graduation from Catholic high school, I felt I was the only one who thought every religious thing they taught us was unbelievable. The past 40+ years of daily living has only reinforced with me that we’re all here as an accident of birth, a mutation of cells, the luck of the draw.

    And I find that oh so consoling. Knowing that randomness rules our lives gives it that much more meaning. If I believed “someone” was in charge of this world, or any part of it, I couldn’t get up in the morning. If that were the case, I’d have to say he or she is doing a terrible job.

    I don’t see the possibility of an afterlife, whatever that means, as a religious concept. I have no idea why we’re here, and I don’t waste much time thinking about it. I haven’t ruled out the possibility of another plane or level of being that we don’t understand. I think anything is possible. But if that possibility includes a god of some kind….I’m pretty disappointed in how he/she works.

    In the past 10 years, there have been multiple times that I’ve chosen to believe my brother has “touched base” with me. I’m also very comfortable saying all those things were coincidences. Either way, I find great comfort in knowing life is finite for us all. The best way for me to be a good person is to smile at someone I don’t know, lend a helping hand to someone who needs it, and enjoy the ride. I’m in charge of myself, and I have no one to answer to but me.

  12. studiorose July 20, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    I found Grief Beyond Belief through the Cognitive Dissonance podcast; many thanks to Tom and Cecil for having Rebecca on the show.

    I’ve been at my workplace since 1989 and consider many of my co-workers to also be friends. I had been a “closeted” atheist there for many years, but because of a particular situation, it finally came out that I wasn’t a Christian (unlike 99% of the people I worked with). With one exception, everyone seemed okay with this and didn’t treat me any differently than they had before.

    About a year later, in 2004, my mother died. I took the allowed two days “grievance leave” and everyone knew why I was absent. When I came back to work, absolutely no one said anything at all about my mother, with the exception of my immediate supervisor, who needed some details for the leave paperwork. At the time, I was actually grateful for this, as talking about her made me very emotional, and I found it easier to just concentrate on getting my work done. I did think it was rather odd that nobody even brought it up, though I attributed this to people in general being uncomfortable with those who are grieving.

    A few years later, during an unrelated conversation at work, I happened to mention my mother’s death. Awhile later, one of my co-workers took me aside and said, “I was really sorry to hear about your loss; we all were, but nobody knew what to say to you.”

    She didn’t explain further, but I knew she meant that, knowing I wouldn’t be receptive to talk of seeing my mother again in heaven or that she was watching over me or that “God” had a plan for her, they literally did not know what to say to comfort me, and thus had decided to say nothing at all.

  13. dsteph10 December 15, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

    I just lost my husband of 13 years. I met him later in life after being divorced 25 years. He was only 64 and died suddenly from what we believe was a certain medication. He was not sick and had just begun to have short episodes we thought were anxiety attacks. He died 1 month ago tomorrow, so this grief is very fresh. Having lost my mother in 1999 to sudden death and my father in 2006 after a botched colonoscopy, I had already experienced sudden death and a lingering death of 2 people I loved very much. I thought both were bad and remember the grief I felt at losing them. When my mother died, I still had my father (thought they had been divorced for years) to turn to for comfort. When my father passed, I had my husband to lean on. Now that he has died unexpectedly, I have no one to turn to for comfort. We moved to the Bible belt from Florida just over 4 years ago to be closer to his daughter. I left my grown son behind in Florida.
    I have never felt religious. I was raised in the Methodist church, went to bible school, Sunday school, etc. I can never remember feeling anything from those years. It occurred to me about 2 years ago that I was an atheist. I would loved to think that someday I will see everyone again, but just can’t force myself to believe this. My husband said he believed in God but he was not what you would call religious. His parents, who have passed and his daughter and her family were and are very religious. Not pushy, but twice on Sunday and every Wednesday, his daughter, husband and children are in their Baptist church. She has said that a peace came over her, but she seems to be struggling as much as me. She was very close to him and they talked several times a day. I have always admired that they do live their lives as Christians, their children were schooled in private Christian school and are totally unprepared for the real world. I wish that I could look forward to some sort of afterlife, but I know in my realistic and free thinking mind that it is just a fairy tale. I also noticed years ago that the church they attended in Florida only had a white congregation, which told me a lot about what they believe.
    Since this has happened, everyone says they are praying for me. That is fine if it makes them feel as though they are doing something for me. It actually doesn’t in any way that helps with my grief. So far, no one has made the ridiculous statement that he is “in a better place” thank goodness. He was terrified or all things medical and in the end, it was a particular medicine that killed him. It was his fear that kept him from letting me know how bad the attacks leading up to his death really were. I am angry at the doctors who casually doubled his dose of the drug that killed him. I am not angry at God, as I don’t believe he exists. I looked into grief counseling here, but it seems they are all church run and during the middle of the day when I work. Since he was afraid of death, we had no plan, no insurance, no cemetery plots, etc. I was left to make all these decisions in one day, without knowing his wishes. My parents thankfully had all their wishes laid out for me to follow. I found that this death is far worse than my parent’s. With them, we went in, cleaned the house, gave away items and then went back to our own homes to grieve in our own safe place. I do not have that luxury here, as it is not my home. My husband made this town and house my home, so now it is just a reminder of my aloneness. I don’t know where to be or how to get there. I own a business, which I cannot walk away from and work 6 days a week. I am trying not to think too far ahead, but at 58, I realize I need to make some sort of plans on what to do with the rest of my life. I don’t expect to find another man like him. He was my biggest cheerleader, loved me no matter how I looked or acted and loved me beyond all expectations. At the same time, I feel very alone. I have never felt truly alone like I do now. It is hard to avoid the feeling and everyday I think I am doing better, something simple knocks me back to tears and the deep, deep feeling of missing half of me. How do you get past this? I haven’t a clue. He was bigger than life, everyone loved him, even strangers, and it is impossible to not notice his absence. I am tired. I must work, as there was no safety net financially, and I don’t know where to look for the later part of this life. I am hoping that not making any major changes, something will come to me to find a way to live, not just make a living. Do people just say they are praying for you, due to lack of something else to say, or are they really praying for me? Either way, it doesn’t help. The ones who have helped are the kind people I barely know who stop by with flowers, or a surprise lunch, or just to see if I’m OK. Some have gotten my number to invite me to dinner or a movie. Hopefully I will make closer friends and find different things to do. My husband and I were a group of two and were happy to be this way. Now of course, it would have been better to foster some friendships in the last 4 years. Aaah, hindsight. It is always so clear. Today, a woman came to my store asking for a donation to help raise money for someone with cancer. I explained that I was really watching my money due to his death and right now I just couldn’t donate. For some reason, she asked if I was a praying person. For the first time, I answered honestly and said that I was not, nor did I find any comfort in it or reason for it. She looked at me sadly, like I was to be pitied. I guess she was going to pray with me or something. It felt good to be honest and she said she’s be thinking of me. I just said thanks. I still feel there is nothing to be gained by believing. My step-daughter asked what I did believe. I said that we just die. I’d even be more inclined to think our essence is passed to a just born child and maybe you get a chance to do it better the next time. She asked what if I was wrong. That believing at least gave her a chance and if I was wrong, I had none. I said it was better than pretending that I believe something that makes no sense and was invented to give people a false sense of hope, just as it had for thousands of years. I’ll take my chances and be honest with myself. My husband is gone, due to a bad set of circumstance and I am left to carry on in whatever way I can find. I will always miss him, have a hole in part of myself and will meet the same fate as he did. I will be forgotten many years from now and all I can do is live my life the best way I can. Being kind to others, giving to worthwhile charities when I can afford it, and not believing that MY beliefs are the only RIGHT ones. At least this much, I am at peace with.

  14. straubuffy May 20, 2015 at 7:51 pm #

    It’s been 3 years since my only sibling was the passenger of a deadly car accident, 3 years since my life changed forever. This was my first experience with a loss of a close family member, my big sister, the woman I had idolized my entire life was gone in a flash. Such a devistating loss will turn anyone’s life upside down, the part that changed me forever was that the night of her death also happened to be my 29th birthday and while my sister was breathing her last breathes I was having a birthday celebration to which I did not invite her to because I had cut her out of my life due to her drug abuse (drug abuse that had nothing to do with the freak accident that took her life). Grief is hard, the most difficult hurdle of my life, but add guilt and my birthday to the mix and it’s almost torture when it’s the anniversary/my birthday. People don’t know how to act and I can’t fault them I don’t know how I would simultaneously wish someone a happy birthday and give my condolences on the same day. It’s been 3 years and it still bothers me when someone I don’t know asks me when my birthday is, the date is no longer mine it’s no longer a celebration for me, it’s the day everything changed. Contrary to what my “born again” mother believes my sister is not in heaven, she is not watching over me as my guardian angel, she’s gone and only my memories of her remain.

  15. Jacalyn February 9, 2016 at 11:08 am #

    Umm, are you really just giving this info out for noinhtg?

  16. MaryLynne September 27, 2016 at 5:01 pm #

    Has this book been written yet? I heard about it while ago, and hoped it had happened! My husband has brain cancer, and this is the kind of resource I hope I can find.

  17. Eric Bateman October 13, 2016 at 6:12 pm #

    I heard about it while ago, and hoped it had happened!

  18. HP Customer Support October 13, 2016 at 6:13 pm #

    I heard about it while ago, and hoped it had happened! 🙂

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