The day I lost my faith in God

Alternate title: The post that is most likely to get me defriended on Facebook.  #sorrynotsorry

In some ways, July 12, 2016 was the hardest day for me during Bryon’s crisis.  

March 29, 2016 was the day that the sh*t hit the proverbial fan.  The day he went into septic shock and his organs started failing.  My life had been turned upside in an instant.  I was stunned.  I was consumed with fear and was struggling just to process what had happened.

August 20, 2016  was the day I learned that Bryon was not going to survive.  The resident had told me that his heart was going to stop beating that day.  He ended up holding out until the next morning.  At this point, I knew that this was the reality.  I had seen a lot in the past five months and I knew that this was the end so I was able to process it.  It was the ending I was desperately trying to prevent but at least the days of hell sitting in the ICU were going to be over.  

Little did I know that the hell would continue for the months that followed. #widowhood #grief

July 12, 2016.  

One year ago today.

The day that Bryon had gone into septic shock for a second time.  Until that point, I didn’t think there was a chance he could die.  He survived septic shock in March. He was stable and recovering very slowly.  But here I was again, staring at his vitals, desperately trying to will his blood pressure to stay up.  I couldn’t believe we were back where we were in March.  Except in March, Bryon had been strong going into this.  Now he was back to square one but with a body that had been weakened after three and a half months in the ICU.  

July 12, 2016.

The day I lost my faith in God.

No, I am not an atheist. I believe He exists.  I just know that He doesn’t give a damn about me.

It was the day that I realized that God didn’t care how many Rosaries I said or how many Novenas I said.  He didn’t care that I put the Novenas on Facebook either.

It was the day that I realized that God didn’t care how many church prayers lists Bryon was on.  

It was the day that I realized that God didn’t care how many candles were lit for Bryon.

It was the day that I realized that God didn’t care how many convents I had submitted online prayer requests too.  

(In case you are wondering, submissions were made to every convent that accepted online requests in the English speaking world.  About ten pages of Google results.)

It was the day that I realized that God didn’t care that the Rabbi’s in Bangor, Maine were praying for him.  

It was the day that I realized that God didn’t care that Bryon’s name was whispered into the Dalai Lama’s ear.

It was the day that I realized God was going to do whatever God was going to do.  While He’s off performing miracles for other people, He wanted Bryon to suffer for months in the hospital.  He wanted me to have to watch it.  Doesn’t sound like the loving God I heard about throughout my childhood in C.C.D.

People are so quick to defend God to me.  I get it. People like Him.  But it makes me feel more alone in my grief when people do that.  Like my grief isn’t taken seriously.  Like I am a teenager rebelling against her parents because she didn’t want to go to her confirmation class. (That may have happened.)

C.S. Lewis in A Grief Observed described it best:

… Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be — or so it feels — welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?

There has been a lot of buzz in the “widow world” about the engagement of Patton Oswalt.  People are so quick to judge him even though they haven’t walked in his shoes.  People are so quick to project their ideals and standards onto other people.  I belong to many online widow groups, most of which consist of young widows and widowers and so many of them share stories about how they found love again…but those in their life (parents, in-laws, friends, children, etc)  aren’t comfortable with it.  They get told that it is “too soon” and will be told that they are still healing.  

It is no one’s place to dictate when someone is healed or healed enough.  Never.

(For additional reading on this topic, please see Kerry Phillips, John Polo and Erica Roman.  They say everything so much more eloquently than I can.)  

I am closing in on 11 months of widowhood and I am not ready to date again.  So I have no experience with being judged about that.  Who knows what kind of reaction I will get.  Though I know if anyone tries to stand in the way of any future happiness, my best friend Kimmy Gibbler will shut them down.

I have been judged about my relationship with God.  And it’s frustrating as hell to be told what my relationship with God should be by people who have never been in my situation.  It demeans my grief and what I have been through.  I am hurting in a way that most have never felt.  It is insulting to be told that I have to love a God that took my husband from me and my daughter’s father away from her from people who never had to feel this kind of pain.

My grief is mine.  My relationship, no matter how strained, with God is mine.   Not yours. No one has the right to project onto me how I should feel.  And as far as I am concerned, He slammed the door on me and the ball is in his court.

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21 thoughts on “The day I lost my faith in God

  1. Kerry I’m so sad for you. Not only did you lose your husband you also lost faith in your god. I (an agnostic) can’t imagine how hard it must be to know your deity turned aside and didn’t intervene. It must be crushing. I hope one day you can find peace again with your god.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Jessica. This is actually what they call a secondary loss. Many people think widows and widowers just lose their spouses. But what they don’t see is that they also can lose their faith, their financial security, their health. These losses also take their toll on widows. For me my biggest secondary loss has been my faith but that also brings with it my identity. I identified strongly with the Catholic faith before all this happened.

      Maybe someday I will be close to my God but I am learning more about other religions and ways of thinking. I might have lost my faith but I will still grow from it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am fortunate and have had lot of support. But I know form my experience on online widow groups that losing your friends and being lonely is more common. I hope people have been supportive for you. I can’t imagine going through what you did. ❤

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  2. Thank you so much for writing this. Let me tell you that you are not alone in feeling this way. I had a long period where I questioned God’s motives and his very existence all while working for the Catholic Church. Working where I did, I felt I could not share my thoughts and feelings with anyone. You are so brave to be sharing your grief and your struggle with your faith. It is absolutely okay and even healthy to question every aspect of our lives from time to time and I very strongly dislike how any type of questioning about life choices and convictions is often met with disbelief, shock or patronizing comments from others. I hope you continue to share your journey with such honesty. I wish more people, including myself, had the courage to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much kgagnon for your kind words. I think until someone has a situation that causes them to reevaluate every core aspect of their life (not just death, could be divorce, addiction, etc), they will never understand. And I think they project their views on other people to cover up their own insecurities. Like, seriously, who cares is a celebrity gets engaged 15 months after his wife’s death? How does that affect them? And how does my relationship with God affect them?

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  3. Thanks for posting this. It took a long time for me to forgive God. And thanks to the many idiotic useless religious platitudes like “God has a plan” or “It’s God’s will” comments, I may never step foot in a church again. Maybe someday I’ll work on forgiving church people, but in the meantime I just do my best to ignore their commments and judging.

    Keep writing.
    XOXO,
    WW

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hate when people say “God has a plan”. Well his plan sucks. And I can’t trust a God who planned for me to hurt like this.

      The sad thing is I loved my actual church. My priest was phenomenal and came to the ICU and was calling to check up on Bryon. Some people assume that the priest alienated me and that offends me to because my priest was amazing. This one is on God.

      But maybe someday I will change my mind.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t even imagine what you are going through. The closest I came to losing my husband was last year when he went septic and the first round of antibiotics didn’t work and I kept seeing him get worse and worse. Luckily, the second round worked. It was about a week after that when we found out he had cancer. All of that, but I am so very lucky that he’s sitting next to me now, and doing well. What has happened to you is not fair that you lost your husband and I have mine. It’s not compassionate or merciful. I don’t blame you one bit for feeling the way you do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Linda. I appreciate your kind words. It is rough but I am comforted that your husband survived. Sepsis is so scary. the whole experience has opened my eyes to the holes in our healthcare system, that’s for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I had just the opposite reaction. I found a new found faith in my creator. While the loss of my wife was devastating, I didn’t blame anyone. It happened. If I might have blame anybody, it was the owner of the coal mine in my wife’s hometown. That coal mine emitted use amounts of particulates when she was much younger. Her oncologist believes that it may have comprised her immune system as a youth which eventually lead to her cancer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s interesting how everyone experiences everything different. I did have breakfast with an old friend recently and she said something similar to this. She definitely gave me something to think about.

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  6. Although I’ve never experienced a spouse dying, I have experienced what you have with God in other ways and I too have lost faith in him and I have tried a two organized religions. One can never really feel what you did a year ago or now and religious quotes don’t help. As for the dating thing. Either way you can’t win, if you date someone else, you are moving on too soon and are tarnishing your late spouse’s memory. However, if you don’t date, you will get, “You’re young, you need to stop grieving and move on with your life.” I know there’s nothing I or anyone else can say to make it right but I do feel for you.

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  7. Many times we blame God for things that ain’t His fault. Religion claims to have a lot of promises from God. Promises God never gave. They give you a procedure to get to God, procedures that almost never hold up in crisis.
    I will tell you what has worked for me. Doubt religion. Doubt God’s goodness but keep the door open for Him to help you make sense of it all. Go through the motions. Cry if you must. But open your heart to God. You owe Him that much. The truth most times is that the truth may not comfort you. For example I realized that the people I called parents for 26+ years weren’t my parents. And it affected my whole world. I prayed to God for a reason to get married. For Him to tell me that it was okay but He never did. Now I have forgiven these strangers and I know I may not get married but I’m still happy because I let God help me make sense of it all.

    Don’t look for God amidst religion, He is almost always never there.

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