Monday, 5 November 2012

Grieving as an atheist

I am an atheist.

I don't believe in a god or gods. I don't believe in an afterlife. Or should I say, I don't see any evidence, any reason, why I should believe in those things. I'm not a big fan of faith. I don't believe because I can't.

When I was at the hospital today, I was handed a collection of leaflets. Some were information about an inter-denominational service in memory of the lost babies. Some were poems, none had names attached.

They made me cry, because my emotions were raw. They also slightly annoyed me, however.

The poems, the remembrance service all assumed belief in a comforting Jesus or other godly figure, holding these little angel babies close and singing them lullabies. A god who took my baby back because he could not bear to be without my little one. I'm supposed to bear the loss in his stead?

In one of the poems a line was repeated several times - "Do not question God".

I do not believe that my lost little one had a soul that is now with god, or anywhere. I don't believe in the soul. I don't want to be told that my baby died because it was "God's plan" or "God's way" and ours is not to question why.

I'm sure there was a good reason for the miscarriage. A chromosomal abnormality of some sort. The baby maybe never developed past 6 weeks because s/he couldn't. Maybe there was never a heartbeat because there was never a heart? I don't know, I never will. I can only speculate.

For some, the speculation might lead them to a belief in a divine being that gently cares for the little one until a time of reuniting. For me, no. I don't even find much comfort in the idea. It gives me a bad feeling, far from comfort. More like anger, bile rising to the back of my throat.

In sadness we rage, against the universe and ourselves. Against the chaos and the cruelty. Of course we should question why, and wonder what might have been. That doesn't mean we'll ever find an answer, but to wonder and ask and explore is human nature.

The rational, reasonable atheist side of me is irritated that this type of literature is given out as standard to women who are grieving and vulnerable, without asking the simple question first "Are you religious?".

The grieving mother atheist part of me is sad, and angry that these poems and religious literature talk of a time when I will see my baby again, when I know that isn't so. It made me sad all over again, in a whole other way.

This in turn adds to the irritation on the side of the rational side of me. And I am sure this is something that I will face again in the future when faced with loss, as the only inevitable part of life is that people die.

Some may say to their lost little ones, "Au revoir - till we meet again". I may only say "Goodbye."

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