I'm not sure I can go to her funeral due to health issues, but I'm already dreading it. I've had to explain my general distress a few times, once to the manager of my apartment complex. She said, "The one thing that gives me comfort is I know my loved ones are resting in the arms of the Lord."
How rude is that? Why do Christians always assume I'm a Christian, too? I no longer keep my mouth shut, so I said, "I don't believe in god."
A moment of silence. "Then for you it is a loss."
And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, the single biggest reason for belief in fairy tales: fear. Fear of death and dying. Fear of the unknown. Fear of everyday trials. Fear of the future. Fear of loss. Fear fear fear fear fear.
Hell yes it's a loss. It should be seen as a loss by everyone. Grandma is not in the arms of baby Jesus. She's fucking gone and I can't believe in something ridiculous to soften the blow, nor can I fully express my feelings to my family.
If I go to the funeral, I don't think I can take all the fairy tale nonsense that takes place to comfort the religious.
Everything is built around them. The same day she died, I had to spend several hours in the ER. There was a chapel in the hospital, religious flyers on the walls, bibles on all the end tables. Where was the help for people who have thrown off comfortable lies?
Sometimes I worry that a huge emotional blow will send me scurrying back to religion, even though I can't logically believe in it anymore. There was a time I was so sick I was thinking, "I'll believe in anything. Just make it stop!" And yet I still couldn't make myself believe.
Now I wonder if I should have just gone along with the apartment manager. Christians get really nasty when you tell them you don't believe. If some issue comes up, maybe she'll be prejudiced against me and resolve the issue against my interests simply to spite me. You never know how religious people are going to react. Regardless, I just wanted to say something so she would realize how rude it is to make such assumptions. Maybe next time she'll say something less obnoxious. Probably not, but people need to know we're out there and that we have feelings, too.
Can you describe your grandmother, tell us about your relationship with her?
My grandmother had a tiny little house on one acre of property. A small stream was the border between her house and the house of a killer known as the sickle slayer. Everyone thought the house was haunted because it seemed only strange people lived there, even after the sickle slayer was caught and sentenced to prison.
I just now Googled and read the above article. Interesting. I especially like the part where the article disses Bay Area immigrants. XD That's code for "We are conservative Christians and they aren't." The foothills are the Bible Belt of California, despite all those horrible Bay Area immigrants.
The author of the article later writes:
"He had prayed and fasted with his wife and children to exorcize the imagined demons from his house but was alone at the time of the killings after threatening his family. They had moved to a Sacramento motel and an ordained preacher who had been living with the Smith household had returned – unbeknownst to Smith – to remove tools to sell when they ran out of money. Smith began to plan his assault at the campground and even invited an acquaintance to join him, complaining about 'hippies and longhairs' who had recently stolen tools from him."
It looks like Christians were the only criminals in this story. XD
Even before this guy went on his rampage, my grandparents knew he was crazy. My brother had played with his son, but that son later died when the sickle slayer backed his truck over the boy, killing him. He claimed it was an accident, but considering his subsequent behavior, a lot of people questioned this. My grandparents also said he shot the family dog and simply left it lying in the yard to rot.
I tortured my little cousin with the idea that the sickle slayer had killed previously and then sunk the bodies into the pond adjacent to my grandmother's property. XD Many years later the pond was drained and refilled. Nope. No bones at the bottom.
We always stayed on my grandparents' side of the stream and eyed the haunted house with suspicion. It was like there was an invisible line and that as long as we stayed on grandma's side of the stream we were perfectly safe. Occasionally, I would give the sickle slayer's house the hairy eyeball, just to be sure it wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary.
The pond and stream were wild with blackberry brambles and mud: perfect for a growing tomboy, her brother and cousins. We caught frogs, lizards, snakes, fish, turtles and anything else that moved. I remember putting a butterfly net on the end of one of grandpa's long bamboo poles and simply dredging a section of the pond. When I hauled in one clump of mud, a pair of eyes appeared in the middle: a bullfrog. :) It was the highlight of my day to catch such a creature.
When I returned triumphantly to the house with my catch, my mother looked at me and said, "Come here and let me clean you up...my gosh...you have nose on your dirt!"
On hot days, my grandmother always, ALWAYS took care of us. Every few hours, she'd come down the back steps and yell, "Do you'uns want some iced tea?"
Did we? Hell yes! Sometimes it was "pop" or popsicles or some other treat, but grandma always kept us cool and well-hydrated.
I could always expect good food at Grandma's house: Rice Krispy treats, potato salad to die for, cucumbers soaked in vinegar water. My grandmother was a good cook and I'll forever miss her delicacies.
My grandmother kept me in nightgowns and underwear for my entire life. I've never had to buy my own underwear. Every year on my birthday or Christmas, I got brand new underwear and usually a comfortable nightgown to go with it. It became a running joke. I'd feel the small wrapped present with its soft contents and say, "Gee, I wonder what this could be?" Underwear. Always underwear. XD
When I was in my twenties, I became an avid online Descent player. The other players never believed I was actually a woman and would ask questions they assumed would stump me if I were not female: "What size underwear do you wear?" Me: "I don't know" (I never bothered to look at the size because Grandma always knew what size to get.) Descent player: "See! You're a dude!" Me: "No, I'm not. I've never had to buy my own underwear because my grandma always buys it for me.
I guess now I'll have to figure out what my underwear size is.
My grandmother's house was situated in a somewhat precarious position: at the end of a road with an unexpected stop sign. When I was in my "I want to be a writer" phase, I would sit in the back yard and write. Every time I heard screeching tires, I would write in the margins: "Another car just discovered (with screeching tires) that there is a stop sign at the end of the road." Everything in those silly tomes needs to be burned before anyone sees my melodramatic fan-fiction tripe: everything but the interesting tidbits written in the margins.
Over the years speeding drivers took out the trees that protected the house until there were no barriers left. Then it happened: a car came careening down the road and ended up in my grandparents' living room. My Grandma was standing on the porch and had to jump out of the way. My Grandpa was watching TV in his easy chair when the car smashed into the living room. It hit the TV, sending it flying over my Grandpa's head where it left a dent in the wall. My Grandpa escaped with minor injuries.
I swear, if I lived in that house, I would spend whatever was necessary to erect a permanent barrier. My grandmother used to sleep in the living room with her head pointing toward the road. That always made me nervous. Funny, but I don't remember feeling scared the few times I slept on the living room couch. *shrug* I guess it's only scary in hindsight.
When she was very young (eight years old, I think), my grandmother lost her mother to tuberculosis. When her father remarried and had more children, she became something of a mother to her younger siblings. She was very maternal. She always put her children and her grandchildren first. She did it so quietly we didn't even notice and I guess we sort of took it for granted.
When my grandmother married my grandfather, they both worked in the local tuberculosis sanitorium. Wow. How brave my grandmother was! She lost her own mother to tuberculosis but still went on to care for others who had contracted that horrible disease. She also spent many hours caring for my sickly uncle. In his childhood he suffered through rheumatic fever and polio, but my grandmother pulled him through it and he went on to become a financial success: Deputy Treasurer working directly under The Secretary of the Treasury and The Treasurer of the United States.
In short: She was the only grandparent I felt truly loved me. The day before she died, she asked endless questions about my brother's car accident only two days before (he's fine) and my upcoming surgery. "Is Laura all right? When is the surgery? Tell her not to worry about it."
Even though she was old and disabled by a stroke that happened five years ago, she cared about us. Yes, she was 95, but she still would have had a few years left. Her blood tests were great. Then some meathead ER physician decided to give her Dilaudid and we think it killed her. From rxlist.com:
"Respiratory Depression: Respiratory depression is the chief hazard of DILAUDID (hydromorphone hydrochloride) ORAL LIQUID and DILAUDID (hydromorphone hydrochloride) 8 mg TABLETS. Respiratory depression is more likely to occur in the elderly, in the debilitated, and in those suffering from conditions accompanied by hypoxia or hypercapnia when even moderatetherapeutic doses may dangerously decrease pulmonary ventilation."
My cousin's husband is a doctor and he says they never should have given her the drug. My mother wants to find a lawyer, but we doubt anyone will want to take the case because my grandmother was so old. But that's kind of the point. She was old, so she should not have been given Dilaudid. She had leg cramps. That's all. Something else should have been done. She was dehydrated. Maybe her potassium levels were low.
My mother and I both suffer from the same kind of leg cramps. If I'm suffering from leg cramps in the night, I usually drink some water and/or take a prescription potassium pill. Yes, the leg cramps hurt like hell, but I don't need Dilaudid to make them go away and neither did my grandmother.
Luara: Thank you for asking that question.
I miss being a child playing at Grandma's house SO MUCH. It was before the depression hit, before my health took a nose dive, before I felt so much physical and emotional pain. I want to go back in time and play at Grandma's house forever.
Atheist in FundyLand, Thank you for sharing your story with us, and thanks to Luara for asking the question. The murder episode must have been a frightening situation for all. Your grandmother sounds like a powerful influence in your life. I can understand not wanting to listen to the funeral service or the religious stories being retold. Yes, I think we do need non-theist assistance in grieving. Someone who knows there is no heaven or hell with unsubstantiated promises of rewards or punishments. We simply change form, from a living body, to atoms returning to the universe. There is no reincarnation, no resurrection, no reconnecting after your death.
There are memories that last. You write of them so sensitively, I can feel your joys and sorrows. Your memories of playing at your grandmother's house remain.
Thanks for writing about your grandmother! I love to meet people like her, even in someone's memories. You've got a lot of happy things to look back on - and yes, it hurts more now she's gone, but you're strengthened with her love. Keep talking to us!
I'm sorry for your loss, but I do agree with what you are saying. My grandparents passed in 1974 within 6 months of each other, and I often have good memories of them still. As I get older I'm thinking of them more often, most likely because some of my happier times in life was when I lived with them.
It isn't uncommon to imagine events that might have you "scurrying back to religion." It's human to think of times when all the problems were settled and taken care of, but once evidence and logic have entered your mind it's not likely you will return. Religion does not stop pain. It masquerades it with myth and then you start lying to yourself.
Remembering your grandmother is something to do now, and think of her in much more happy times. Perhaps remembering her in this blog would be a good place to start if you like. Most of us here are supportive.
The help we have is that we can share the pain with each other. And we can accept the pain: I don't miss bad people, but I miss and mourn the ones I love.
What a cherished trove of memories!! Thanks for sharing, for a few minutes *I* was having a blast with your grandmother! I may even use her line sometime- "You got some nose in your dirt!" LOL!!
And kudos to you for being blunt with your response to the manager. THIS is what we need to do, all of us! I've already posted about my own experiences at work being honest about my atheism.
It's not easy but it's necessary, and since I'm not, say, an ex-minister with a local TV show, or an expert on evolutionary biology with creds to die for, this is the best I can do for US.
We just have to brace ourselves for the rudeness that comes from spoiled brats who are accustomed to being bullet-proof in their delusions. Hell, they've even been praised and encouraged to spew that crap. We have to be somewhat understanding while simply being ourselves, without shame.
I hope you can make it to the funeral. I've been to a few and it hasn't been an issue. Sometimes I skip the kneeling at the casket altogether, but stand nearby and think of what I want to say to the deceased.
When my aunt died in January, I thought I'd be strong, but walked up to her and broke down in sobs. My husband and other aunt were there to hold me, and my aunt (actually, my Godmother, who is very religious) said, "I know! It's so hard, isn't it?! It's SO hard!" Words to that effect. I don't even remember hearing anything about "being with God" and whatnot from her.
During the funeral mass at her church, the priest said something along the lines of, "She was a devout Christian and believed......" and I remember thinking, "Wow, they actually pointed that out, so it's not a given that EVERYbody believes or is a Catholic." It was interesting to sit through a mass, boring as ever, but familiar. I even got communion LOL! Seems so silly now. It's what my aunt would've liked.
It's really heart warming to read this entire thread-people speaking in supportive tones about something that would turn into a chair-throwing free-for-all on a talk show.
I love hearing stories of people's families/ancestors-THAT is reality-and kudos to you for not being able to lie to yourself-or anyone else-even if it is to make your own self feel better. THAT is morality.
If there were a gawd, he/she would be prouder of you than all of the people who sit in the pews pretending to believe so that they can suck up the goodies.
Your grandma would be proud-she matters more than any a**h*le who would say something so obnoxious to you.
What a positive way to look at what the priest said. I would have thought, "Saying she was a devout Christian means she was a good person, but people who don't believe aren't." I guess he was acknowledging, in his own way, that not everyone believes. :) I want Christians to see that we are people. Just people. We're not perfect, but we value the same things all people value.
What a positive way to look at what the priest said
Maybe he did mean it in a negative way, but there was something about the WAY he said it, so matter-of-factly, that made me feel less like an outsider looking in. But it's possible all the catholics heard it as "at least she wasn't a godless heathen." :-p
Besides, it's a pretty standard compliment for a parishoner I would imagine!
My grandmother's funeral was supposed to have been streamed by the Seventh Day Adventist Church in her area. I couldn't make it due to health reasons. When the stream stopped working at two minutes and thirty-eight seconds, I called the church to find out why and the lady who answered tried to "comfort" me with the heaven spiel. When I told her I didn't believe that, she kept on preaching. Why do they keep on preaching? Barf.
Finally I said, "That's bull. We have to face up to the truth and stop lying to ourselves." When she KEPT ON yammering, I said, "Look. I didn't call to argue with you. I called to find out about my grandmother's funeral."
She took on that obnoxious I'm-better-than-you voice and said, "I'm sorry, but I can't help you." That's all I wanted to know in the first place. I hate it when Christians start preaching. I can't keep my mouth shut. They feel so entitled and I want to shatter that sense of entitlement at every opportunity. ESPECIALLY when I'm upset that I can't watch my grandmother's funeral via Internet stream.
Yes, I have problems with erupting anger over similar situations as well. It just kind of springs up like Yellowstone's Old Faithful, except my eruptions do no have a schedule. I wonder if these episodes will ever go away? It seems as though there is a button buried deeply in my brain that is dormant until some trigger pushes it and cognitive thought never engages. I wouldn't mind, except the eruptions do no good. The button remains, cocked and ready to go.