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This Loss Is Making Me Question My Faith

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I lost my brother on January 8, 2010. He was 36 years old. He has a 16 year old son. Before I lost my brother I used to be the person saying to those who lost a loved one "we cry for ourselves cause they are in heaven at peace out of pain". So many people have said that to me too lately however I find myself thinking THERE BETTER BE A HEAVEN. It makes me SO angry that my brother died. I feel like he never had a chance at happiness and then his life was cut so so short. I am just SO SO ANGRY. I know my Mom is finding great comfort in her faith and she has not a doubt in her mind that Johnny is with Jesus. I am jealous of her peace. I prayed for my brothers pain to end for years and years - is this the answer to my prayers? I am just so lost and hurt. I look back on the past 8 weeks and they are a blur. I have no patience for my family for my job for myself. I never imagined losing a sibling at this age and I have never felt this way before. My oldest brother has completely shut himself down and won't even talk about Johnny with me - that makes me sad because a sibling relationship is unique and I think that Joe would relate more than anyone how I'm feeling. He too had the experience of growing up with my brother. Anyway - the great calm and peace I thought I would feel from my faith has failed me.

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From what I understand, it is very normal to question your faith after the loss of a loved one, especially so suddenly and so young. When I lost my grandfather(years ago) I can remember those feelings of anger and wanting to yell at God, "Why did you take my Grandpa?!!!" I somehow overcame that and have strong faith now. I recently lost my husband and feel blessed that it has not shaken my faith - in fact, I feel my faith will be stronger when I emerge from the grief. However, I have also experienced many periods of doubt in my faith through the years.

What has really helped me is to focus on the blessings I have in life and to examine those "coincidences" in life that have worked out good for me. Yes, there have been lots of bad times too, but I try not to focus on them. I know easier said than done. But, the blessings and especially those "coincidences" have helped me see that God is there, does care, and helps me through the difficulties.

I do not know why some question their faith while others cling to it. I would suggest that you talk to a member of the clergy. They continually deal with these types of questions and doubts while ministering to grieving families. They can certainly help you find answers better than I can.

I hope you find that sought after peace and comfort you so desperately need right now. And I encourage you to explore your faith and the doubts you are having.


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Have you ever read the Serenity Prayer?

God, grand me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;

The courage to change the things that I can;

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr

Your grief is particularly hard to bear, because your brother's death is tragic. His life was cut very short, his 16 year old son is now without a father, you are without a brother, your Mom is without a son, and there is no good reason for any of it. It was not fair, was not deserved, and you feel it's so wrong that it's challenging your faith. You may not have completely digested your brother's passing, but I think you are asking important questions. For example, how could God let stuff like this happen?

If God directly moderated human affairs, then we'd have a world without war, poverty, and human suffering. It'd be heaven on earth by that plan. The reality of life, however, is that there is plenty of human tragedy and sometimes no end to grief. Personally, I don't think God makes life or death decisions for human beings. I believe God acts through us, not upon us, and that it's up to us to change the world. But that's just my take; everybody has their own understanding about God. I certainly believe in the strength of religious conviction; it can and does change lives for the better. I see a particular strength in your Mom and in one poster here, IMBlessed, because their religious faith is guiding them calmly through the death of a family member. You want to know why you don't have the same calm bearing, and all you have is grief, when your faith has been strong.

Well, I think, you are like most of us here, experiencing a full range of grief and dysfunctionality; that's par for this course. People like your Mom and IMBlessed are the exceptions. You want serenity, so do I, and so does almost everybody else here. Instead we go through several stages of grief and rough emotion before we accept the loss and gain some kind of peace. In the long term, however, I think you will find that calmness of mind that you seek. It's just slow in coming. It may be that you have other issues that make your grieving particularly difficult right now. You have responsibilities, a 4 year old, a husband, a job. Hoisting that burden can't be easy when you are also going through shock, sadness, anger, disturbed sleep, and a general lack of support.

After 8 weeks emotions are still raw, but it gets better. My own grief finally eased into the 3rd month. Now I am getting rest, I am more thoughtful, more communicative, and more functional. I no longer feel so desperate and dysfunctional. I can see positive changes in myself. You may not see your own progress, but you are changing too. Some sense of normal life will return, and your coping skills will improve. Part of the task is simply to have patience while working through your grief.

Take for example anger. You have every right to be angry. Your brother's passing was neither fair or deserved. But how can you seek serenity while at the same time you have great anger? In fact it's a contradiction to be both calm and angry at the same time. So I think you need to face your anger to make progress with your grief.

Anger can be a positive emotion. It can powerfully motivate us. When we direct our anger at thing we can change, we get results. But when we direct our anger at things we cannot change, we run into brick walls. Here is where that Serenity Prayer makes sense. Accept what we cannot change, and focus rather on the things we can change. So what you can change?

We do have some control over how we deal with our emotions. While we are carried along by our emotions, we can at least think through them and figure out whether they help or hinder our well-being. If your anger is futile, you can try to ditch it. If your anger motivates you constructively, embrace it.

You say so many people in your life do not understand your grief, and sometimes they don't want to hear or see it. Well, you can learn to communicate to them just as much of your emotion as they can handle. Sometimes that's total, sometimes that's nothing at all. I personally am guarded with my grief, it's something I value and share selectively.

If you are not getting full support from your husband or brother, just get what support you can. Bargain for more if you can get it. There are places, if not with friends and family, where you can find the support. These forums and your counselor can probably listen to all of your grief and help you through it.

Be careful not to wish the grief away. Your grief is there for a reason, and deserves some respect. It's not merely disruptive. Sadness may be painful and disagreeable, and anger may deprive you the calm mind that you seek. But eventually you will work your way through these emotions and grow in the process.

Grief is there to remind you how powerful the bond was with your brother. You can honor your brother, and memorialize him with family and friends. As your daughter matures in years, make sure she knows his story. Your brother persists in you; it's a good thing, a potential source of strength.

Is grief part of God's plan? I think so. We endure suffering, and we also learn from it. It is the most difficult kind of learning. Your choice is either to become embittered through this family tragedy, or assimilate what happened and pass on the love, caring, and respect that belongs with your brother. For yourself, your family, and your friends, believe in something bigger than personal tragedy. Ask all the important questions, and reexamine the roots of your faith if you have to.

The task is not just learning to live with loss, but actually gaining strength from it. I am already bettered by my Mother's passing; I feel the personal growth. We just need to focus on the things that are most important to us, and live fully for those things. As we gradually pass through grief, some sense of normalcy will eventually return, along with the simple joys of life.

With a prayer and a blessing,

Ron B.

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Michelle-I too want to express my condolences. Your brother was so young, but they say he is now without pain.I remember towards the last praying to God to please take my mother so she wouldn't suffer. I could tell she was at that point. But I know the feeling that even though I know she wouldn't have wanted to "lose her mind" as she worried about..I still miss her so.

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I have been questioning my faith ever since my dad died.My mom is very religious,and raised me to be,but after my dad died,my beliefs and faith has been changing.I want to believe that dying and death is a beautiful and comforting thing.My father was not religious, and I can't keep believing in a faith where people who were not "close to god"burn in eternal hell.He was a giving and caring man.He had the most loving heart,more so then most of the religious people I know.My mother says that any signs of the afterlife or sense of it is evil.I know longer listen to her anymore.I believe in god,but for the rest...I will find my own truth.One that makes sense and feels right to me.

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I am sorry for your loss and pain. I too question my faith.I've never been overly religious but just believed in something and had faith.But now that it's my Dad that's been taken I wonder about it all.I have not been able to say any prayers,in fact I've not even been able to acknowledge God or whoever since then....with a few exceptions where I've written some pretty awful angry words at him.Most of the time I try to believe my Dad is around me and in Heaven but I get these awful fears, what if he's just gone, gone nowhere never to be seen again and it frightens me.I guess I feel that because I don't sense my Dad around me, i don't see any signs.

I get SO angry with God, if my Dad is with him why doesn't he allow my Dad to come to me in someway to comfort me so i truly know our bond is not broken just changed.Why does he make it so hard for us....it's just cruel and there is no need for it. Is it to force us to turn to him, that's not fair either. I dont understand any of it. I can't ask God for help,I am too angry with him and feel I shouldn't have to ask him for help, he knows already. So other friends and family do the praying (one of my friends says to me she is "storming Heaven with prayers for Mom, Dad and me").

Ron, glad to things are easing into your 3rd month. Next Wednesday will be my Dad's 3rd month (St.Patricks Day ....so many holidays ruined now!) but I don't find it easing at all.It's getting more real, that's for sure.My friends are all still good support, not expecting me to suddenly be ok again but I guess I worry as time goes on of expectations of me. Work are still very supportive, no pressure ....YET!! I hate when people say "hi, how are ya" in a real general tone(they are not really asking "how are you") some then ignore when I say not so good and they change subject (guess they don't know what to say). I also hate people asking have you plans for the evening, plans for the weekend.....I feel like replying with "yeah my plans are to grieve along with my mom and attempt to make sense of my life ....sound good to you?" but I don't,I just politely say no.

But I don't force anything for myself,I know this is my grief and my time so I don't attempt to put timelines on it. (truth be told, it just feels like it will be like this for the rest of my life)

just lost on a lonely road without my Daddy

hugs to all here & thanks for the support and no judgement ;)

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I think anger and questioning your faith are both very normal reactions. All of a sudden, we are faced with the reality of 1) a loved one is gone and it makes us angry - we will miss so much, and so will the person who is gone - IT IS NOT FAIR!!!; and 2) where did our loved one go, REALLY?

I didn't feel anger at first, but it came on later. Thought I was going to get to skip that one... And my sense of 'calm' at any one time was mostly numbness.

I am not a religious person and Scott (my husband) was not religious at all, but we were blessed to have a wonderful chaplain with us when Scott died, and in the couple days leading up to his death. I believe he brought Scott some peace, and I know he helped myself and Scott's sister immensely. His presence was a gift. I think that I believe in a higher power, whatever name you choose to put to it, and that there is a wonderful place to go to after all this. However, I struggled with, and still do, "Where is he (Scott) now? Is he okay?" I prayed for a long time for Scott to let me know that he is okay. And then last month, I had a dream, where ultimately he held my hand, all the while looking sad. When I asked him if he was happy, he answered, "I am getting food." Now that is not what I would have expected him to say at all, but Scott (he struggled with alcohol addiction) hardly ate when he was drinking. I believe he meant he was feeling better. And he looked sad, probably because his daughter and I will have to manage without him here; and maybe he misses us, too. While still being incredibly sad, I have found a great deal of comfort in that dream.

I might add, too, that since Scott died, I have searched for "proof" of life after death - I guess my faith isn't always that strong :closedeyes: . Anyhow, from what I understand, this is a fairly normal reaction (though not everyone does this).

Taking it one day at a time,


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Never before this loss have I been so aware of grief and how mishandled it is. We are all so uncomfortable with another person's pain. I know that I will be far more available to those who are hurting in the future.

I sometimes feel like I wish I had more time to focus on mourning my brother and supporting my family in their grief. I am having the hardest time now with my Mom's pain. She lives in Illinois and I am in Washington state - it is so hard to be so far away from her. I heard from my other brother today that she hasn't been leaving the house and that she is so terribly depressed. This is just so difficult.

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Guest Gamer205

I want to just say I am so sorry for your loss.

I have been threw many trials myself of questining my faith, I lost my grandpa to Cancer in 1996, My uncle was killed in a hit and run and drug 20 feet in 2000, and they never found who did it, my best friend was killed in 2004 in a tragic car accident, and lately going threw watching my grandmother die a slow and misrable death to Altimers, She lives in a nurseing home, and hospice has already came in and said it will be anytime that she will proably pass,

Theres been times I've questioned my faith, but I have truely come to understand, Sometimes there are no answers to why things happen like they do, but I do know I've come to find this out in my own life, God still loves us, He is There and The Bible does say the rain will fall on the just and the un-just too, I know its hard believe me I know its hard, but he still loves us its just sometimes we feel so over-welmed at whats happening that we lose sight of that,

I can't explain why bad things happen like they do, and why we face them, but I do know that threw everything I've went threw, I have actualy drawed closer to him threw it, and he has been there for every Storm I've faced in life.

:( I truely want you to know I am very sorry at your loss, but I sure hope things get better for you, and I wish you nothing but peace and healing to come,

I sure hope I have helped you somehow, even if its just a small way.

Bless you and take care.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Never before this loss have I been so aware of grief and how mishandled it is. We are all so uncomfortable with another person's pain. I know that I will be far more available to those who are hurting in the future.

I sometimes feel like I wish I had more time to focus on mourning my brother and supporting my family in their grief. I am having the hardest time now with my Mom's pain. She lives in Illinois and I am in Washington state - it is so hard to be so far away from her. I heard from my other brother today that she hasn't been leaving the house and that she is so terribly depressed. This is just so difficult.

I am in your exact situation. I lost my only child at 18 months of age. She wasn't sick or in pain. Her death was an extremely preventable daycare incident. We now are having to gear up for a trial since they charged her daycare provider with Involuntary Manslaughter. I have an extremely hard time hearing people say she is in a better place. My child wasn't in pain or sick. How is she in a better place, when her place is here by my side. On the other hand I envy peoples complete faith in a higher being because I know it gives them great comfort. I just can't bring myself to have that faith yet. I AM SO ANGRY.

One thing I did want to tell you is what was said at our daughters funeral. My husbands cousing conducted Ava's funeral and he told eveyone in attendances that it is ok to be angry at God (or whomever oyur faith praises). He can take it and He understand. Maybe if you tell yourself that, you will have a little comfort.

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