A Faithless Grief
We all experience grief in our own way. I suppose some people can process grief more easily than others. I am not one of those people. While its only been three months since Erik died, I find myself wading through a riptide of grief. I have reached out to people to talk to. I have gone to support groups. They all say the same thing, that this will be a long road and that I will never truly get over it. Then I began to wonder how the different beliefs and faiths help some people process grief. I am not religious at all. I don't believe in any God, spirits or a masterful all knowing being that has all of our destinies planned out for us.
I believe that we are born, we live our lives, then we die. That's it, the end. Recently a dear friend of mine called me to offer support and share his spiritual experience, his thoughts about death, and in particular, about Erik. I know he truly believes in certain religious and spiritual things but when he tried to explain it to me, he realized just how different my beliefs were from his.
I am sure it was frustrating for him. He said at one point that he wanted to share what he felt but he couldn't share it with me because of my beliefs. Now, he wasn't being mean when he said that. I sensed he was more disappointed that he could not share his beautiful spiritual experience with me, which he thought would bring me some comfort. The only thing I could tell him was "I believe that you believe." I don't think that made him feel better either. Honestly it made me feel sad that he could feel so close to my son and I couldn't, which is a strange admission in and of itself. I hear people talk about signs, or feeling a presence and knowing their loved one was with them. I want to feel those things too.
I have memories of my son. I have pictures and report cards, old toys and his clothes that still smell as if he just wore them. But the memories are powerful and with them I can still hear his voice and see his smile. That is what I have left of him. But I am curious. Does believing in God, spirits and the ever after make it easier to grieve when someone dies? Does having faith that you will see your loved one in Heaven make losing them more bearable? All I know is Erik is gone and I will never see him again. Maybe it is easier to grieve without having any religious or spiritual inclinations because it is final. I don't believe he is in Heaven waiting for me. Maybe knowing this, as painful as it is, is better because for me death is final. Grieving for him is a process with a beginning, middle, and a never ending end.
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