To find it very hard when people say people who have died have gone to be with God

(28 Posts)
sweetkitty Tue 20-Nov-12 17:03:55

Not explaining myself very well, there's no one in RL I can talk to about this, DP is RC, I am an athiesthave been for about 20 years. Most of my friends are very strong believers. I doubt a few of them even know I do not believe in God, I don't talk about it.

A wee local boy died today, very very sad, he hung on for a few weeks whilst everyone prayed like mad etc. Everyone is now saying he's gone to be with God and all the other comforting things people say. I find it so hard as surely God would have not allowed him to suffer like that in the first place? Same with a friends DD who died a horrific death this year, where is there any justification for her to die like that? I find it is difficult to understand how people can put their trust and faith in this higher being when he/she/it allows suffering like this to happen every day.

If they were to survive it would be Gods amazing healing power, if they die it's Gods will. the world is so messed up I don't know how anyone can be controlling it. I guess I'm upset and trying to get my head around it, I wish I could believe but I just cannot.

I feel just the same as you, but I tend to hold my tongue as it's obviously something that comforts them.

I like the circle of life sort of thing - we're born, we live hopefully good lives, we often have babies and we die. End of. No controlling deity or otherwise. If we, as a society / individuals are able to alleviate suffering then we should but if we can't, we're all equally allowed to grieve.

My top tip, if you ever get stopped down the high street by a mormon trying to convert easy targets (tired looking mothers on the day that poor fool tried it on with me) they're great for a cracking good arguement on that subject.

Better them than grieving friends / local community.

headinhands Tue 20-Nov-12 19:35:13

Sorry to hear your sad news sweet When people say these things to me in RL I just bite my tongue. I would not debate the existence of god with someone who is grieving as that would be wholly inappropriate. I have one friend who has had a lot of loss in her family in the last year or 2 and says these sorts of things most times we see each other and I just give non-committal nods. I do however come on this board for a good old knock about from time to time just to address the balance smile.

Annunziata Tue 20-Nov-12 19:51:13

I find all the 'gone to be with God/the angels' now quite (I don't have the proper word for what I want to say) insincere/ trite?

But I do think that wee boy will be in heaven now. I believe my dad is in heaven.

We don't know why God allows suffering. I don't think that he wants us to suffer. We just have to trust him and know that he can stop suffering if he wants.

paperclips Tue 20-Nov-12 23:38:31

I feel how u do sweet. If God could answer prayers, why would he sometimes and not other times? Christians often just bat the question away by putting it down to the mysterious "God's Will" . But God's Will seems pretty horrifically cruel and I'm supposed to believe He loves us? This is one of the reasons I don't believe in God.

And does he only help those who are in his fan-club? So would he help someone in a church community where everyone is praying, but do nothing for, say, an innocent child from a non-religious family? But He Loves us all. Too cruel, too many contradictions to make sense.

Sorry maybe this won't help u feel better about the little boy you knew. But there are other ways to look at it.

My atheist take on death is something like: I believe there's only this life. To me this makes life far more precious, and how we affect other peoples lives is therefore really important.

When someone dies, the comfort religious people get from saying "he's with god" may come instead from knowing they had a good life, albeit sometimes too short or ending in suffering. So, lots of religious people praying for someone tells me that person was well loved and surrounded by those who care.

It's a sad fact that some people's lives are full of suffering, lonely and lacking in love. But for everyone there will have been some love, if only fleeting moments in their lives, or they will have positively affected another life. And when they're gone they will have no more suffering.

You put that really nicely paperclips.

headinhands Wed 21-Nov-12 07:47:56

Also the problem with answering suffering/illness with the gods will reasoning is that how come gods desire to heal tracks almost perfectly with that persons access to healthcare/education and so on. How come god meddles less in the third world than he does in developed countries?

sweetkitty Wed 21-Nov-12 12:28:42

Thanks everyone who has taken the time to answer. These children I know died horrible, painful deaths. Maybe if it weren't for modern medicine their deaths would have been swift.

I wouldn't say any of this in RL of course, I respect a persons right to have whatever faith they chose. But all this "in Gods arms" "in heaven with the angels" just saddens me.

ethelb Wed 21-Nov-12 12:36:42

I think you need to let it stop bothering you so much tbh.

I understand you are sad (and I am sorry about what happens, it is about the hardest thing we ever see) but i do feel wanting to point out that there is no God to people, particuarly at this point in time when they are grieving, is prostletising and is no better than the door-knocking, God botherers.

I believe but find the with whole God in heaven stuff trite and sentimental, but realise its often the only thing people can think of to say as we are very bad with death in this country. There is no easy alternative thing to say.

It's also none of your business what they think/say/believe.

sweetkitty Wed 21-Nov-12 13:32:15

Thanks for that message ethelb, where have I said I want to pint out there is no God etc. If people find comfort in faith good for them. There's so much suffering in the world surely finding comfort in anything isn't a bad thing. The reason for my post was purely personal, I know no one else who believes as I do (or doesn't in my case), I cannot speak to anyone in RL about this. If friends do start talking about stuff like this I just sit quietly and say nothing.

Don't worry sweetkitty, there are plenty of people who think the same as you (several on ths one post alone).

CrikeyOHare Wed 21-Nov-12 13:47:33

It's also none of your business what they think/say/believe And yet we atheists are "prostletising" (sic) if we say what we think or believe? Double standards? hmm

Viviennemary Wed 21-Nov-12 13:50:01

I am a Christian though I don't go to church much. And I totally understand your view and think the same myself when a tragedy like this happens. I don't think you are the only one who thinks this way even amongst believers.

I wouldn't label myself as a humanist necessarily but there's some interesting stuff on here. Sometimes nice to know there's a whole load of like minded people out there.

CrikeyOHare Wed 21-Nov-12 13:50:43

I agree with you completely, Kitty btw. You're far from alone.

headinhands Wed 21-Nov-12 15:59:36

Good lord wink ethelb I didn't get the feeling sweet was considering saying anything. But your touchiness about the issue does throw up an important point.

If we can all clearly see it would be inappropriate to say you don't believe in god to someone in such a situation why then is it not equally acknowledged as inappropriate to mention angels etc to someone who is grieving without knowing their personal beliefs. I don't think anyone should be trotting out personal beliefs without being very sure they won't offend.

exoticfruits Wed 21-Nov-12 16:12:21

You think of the other person and let them think what helps them - it is not the time to put your opinion forward.

headinhands Wed 21-Nov-12 16:50:49

Exactly exotic it works both ways

fiftyval Wed 21-Nov-12 16:58:02

I think that if the person offering the platitude is not a fellow griever but just someone you know, then the situation is different. It will be of no comfort to me when dealing with the up-coming death of a loved one for someone to spout ''its all part of God's plan'' - they will get short shrift.

exoticfruits Wed 21-Nov-12 21:56:03

Quite honestly, having been widowed in tragic circumstances, the very last thing I want is anyone's views on God, or lack of. They should keep them firmly to themselves- either way- it is not the time.

sweetkitty Wed 21-Nov-12 22:38:28

I would never give anyone my views on God or lack of, it's kind of like my personal secret, I'm sure only my closest friends know I'm an atheist, it's not something I freely divulge. Would certainly never say anything to anyone grieving.

It wax merely an observation about a lot of comments about a child being in heaven, being with angels that got me thinking. If one of my children were to die, it would be of no comfort to me to be told they were with angels, I think the raw pain and grief of never seeing them again would be enough.

It's interesting how a catastrophic loss like that of a child either turns someone so anti God or they find new faith. I've seen it happen a lot in both directions.

Just my musings.

MichaelaS Thu 22-Nov-12 13:14:22

Sorry to hear the news about the local litte boy.

I just wanted to add that suffering is really hard to understand in most faiths. From a Christian perspective I believe it was not part of the plan, pain and death were consequences of the fall (man deciding not to follow God) and the bible says there will be no more tears or sickness in heaven.

We all have to die at some point. We feel it's tragic when someone young dies, but actually it's also tragic (but less so) when anyone dies. If someone was very sick we can say it's best their suffering has ended, but if you could chose to end the suffering without them having to die that would surely be better?

Part of why God allows suffering is because he allows our free choice, so if I chose to hit you that causes you pain. God can either allow your pain and my free will or allow neither. So much suffering is man made, whether it's emotional hurt, violence, famine, selfishness leading to community or family breakdown etc.

But none of the theological arguments are satisfying really, especially in the case of a young person who is sick through no fault of anyone's.

If you want to understand more about the Christian point of view on this then CS Lewis (of Narnia fame) wrote a book after his wife died called "a grief observed". The Alpha course also has a week on this topic, which I think you can get in book format or DVD from holy trinity bromptons website or bookshop.

When my son was critically ill I found it a huge help to have a "sure and certain hope" that one day I would see him again in heaven. It was a time of raw grief and shock too, but without that belief I think I would have crumbled. Luckily he eventually pulled through, but I will never forget that time and how helpful it was when a few nurses realised we were Christian and said they were praying for us.

I do agree it should be something led by the family in the situation, and it is not the time for prolytising by someone with different beliefs. If the family do profess a faith then friends and medical staff who share those beliefs can be a great comfort.

LookBehindYou Thu 22-Nov-12 13:19:12

You're not unreasonable to disagree but you are unreasonable to be sad about it. If it gives them comfort that's a good thing.

ethelb Thu 22-Nov-12 13:39:45

why then is it not equally acknowledged as inappropriate to mention angels etc to someone who is grieving without knowing their personal beliefs.

I do think that is a bit inappropriate tbh. As I said above. I'm not a big fan or trite sentimentalism.

Out of interest MichaelaS, how do you explain God's role in incurable diseases, which have nothing to do with free will? (and I'm going to try and be as sensitive as I can given your own son was very ill - glad to hear he recovered)

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