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.

MichaelaS Fri 30-Nov-12 12:29:49

Hi I've just returned after a bit offline and wanted to rely to jammysplodger.

I'm also very sorry to hear about your illness weegiemum and I agree with you and indigobarbie that it just is not fair.

Theologically it is very hard to explain. I got a lot out of reading CS Lewis's a grief observed, because it doesn't really conclude on the matter. Ultimately I think you have to decide whether you think God is real, and whether you think he/they are good. If you do, then you have to trust him and understand that you personally cannot understand the reasons for everything in life. I came to a point where I struggled with whether I thought God was good or not. Reading a lot of the old testament you feel he is this vengeful angry being. But reading about the numerous times he forgives the Israelites, the way he is hurt when people stand against him, and reading all of the new testament where you see Jesus and see how much compassion he had whilst still not being afraid to stand up to the high and mighty... Well eventually I had to concede that I didn't have the answer to everything but I did believe that God was good and that he loved me and loved my son even more than I did. I believe the world was planned to have no suffering and to be fair, but that it went wrong. So where is God in all the in curable diseases or bad things that happen which are no ones fault? Well I would say he allows them to happen but is grieved by it. That he intends to make it all fair again one day, and that his perspective is more about people's eternal life than this one.

What we can do is to support people who are suffering, be kind to each other and try to prevent the preventable ills. I also think its important to bring positives out of situations. I volunteer with a charity which supports families going through the same thing our son did. I am trying to make it less painful for the next lot of families. It is a positive way of dealing with my sadness at what happened and turning the anger to something constructive. Sometimes I wonder if God lets people go through stuff for exactly that reason, because door the chance for greater good to come out of it.

Still, none of these answers or thoughts in themselves are satisfying answers to the why suffering question.

IndigoBarbie Thu 22-Nov-12 21:09:35

I know of this local boy too, very very sad, I was following his progress, and his family updates every day. What I did notice though, is that their faith held them strong. It brought them comfort through their trials.

I don't think I am going to help in any way but just thought I'd join in to add that although I 'do' believe in angels, and god, it doesn't make the pain and suffering and loss any easier to accept - no matter which religion or beliefs you hold or don't hold. Most people are conditioned into belief of a god or higher power, and in many ways they only learn from how they see others dealing with this religious knowledge.

I think all we can ever do is try to be grateful for the good things we can and do experience. And, to many - something as simple as taking a breath in the morning, or savouring a sip of fresh water hold higher value, than to some who think just because it's raining it's a bad day. Rain is precious in some areas.

I guess people really don't know what to say in certain circumstances, so saying something that appears comforting seems like the right thing to say. In some ways this might seem to be more positive, however - in the cruel light of day - the truth remains. A lot of people suffer and those who are left behind can not fathom why. The loss and heartache and unanswered questions are very hard to accept and deal with. The finality of it all. I do believe our souls live on, without a physical body and at the moment of death we are released from the pains of physical. It doesn't make it easy for anyone though. To quote WeegieMum, it isn't bloody fair. At all.

I don't think it matters if you believe in god or not. It's a shame when you can't discuss your beliefs with your closest friends, just because you know they feel differently. Ask them how they know god exists, for them? I certainly know where you are coming from, I kept my beliefs quiet for a long time. You just need to listen to yourself, and go with what you think or feel is right, for you.

with love xxx

weegiemum Thu 22-Nov-12 14:01:18

Sweet kitty I think you must be local to me from what you've said.

i am a Christian, I go to church, I've even been to bible college and have a theology degree. But I agree with everything you've said.

It makes no sense, I'm struggling with the idea of suffering right now. I became disabled (lost all sensation in feet, lower legs, hands, face, lost my balance and proprioception (means I can't clap my hands with my eyes closed!)) this time last year, which totally put paid to our plans of moving to Latin America to work in the slums teaching (me) and doing medical work (dh).

Then the little girl you mentioned (think I know who you mean) died, friend had a stillbirth, another friend lost her dd to cystic fibrosis. It's not bloody fair.

All I can think about God (I can't stop believing, just can't) is that if it's his bloody fault then he's big enough to accept my answer. My anger, my frustration. I'm not comforted by the thought my friends children are "with God". It's wrong! They should be with their mummy!! Friends have said I should be comforted by the thought that Christ suffered too. NO! Why should the vicarious suffering of an innocent comfort me?

I've tried to become an atheist. I can't. But I'm not sure about the nature of my God any more.

And people talking about children "becoming angels" drives me mad. It's not theologically right. Angels are angels, humans are human, on earth and in heaven. But that's my issue ........ (amongst many, as you can see!!)

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)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Exactly exotic it works both ways

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 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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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 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.

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?

You put that really nicely paperclips.

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.

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.

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