Re: The tragic loss of your friend's son.....recovery of another kind of loss that also takes time.

From: Norma Jeane Y.
Sent on: Saturday, June 2, 2012 2:18 AM
Annelies!
 
I am so sad to hear of what happened with your friend's son in DC.  What a tragedy!  What a loss to himself, his family & society.  What could have caused him to do this?  (I'm sure those closest to him have their theories or even facts.)  Was it a sudden shock to everyone or were there "warning signs" ahead of time?
 
How ironic & sad that instead of going to DC (that weekend, or close to it) for a celebratory occasion of the rally, you went there for a very opposite kind of gathering.  My heart goes out to all those who knew him, especially his mother Wendi.  Losing a child--especially one that a parent was very close to -- & who had gotten to such a pinnacle of accomplishment in his life -- I imagine would be almost unbearable.  At a time like this, it's hard to know what to say to the grieving parent.  A parent themselves would have a better idea than most.  She is fortunate to have such a dear friend as you to support her during this time.  Your love and caring, as well as others even closer to her (hopefully in her immediate family) is critical now.  Religions have their platitudes and theology of giving a bereaved hope (even if false & unprovable) of seeing the loved one again in some distant heaven.  If that helps the bereaved survive and go on living, then that's helpful to that religious person.  But if the bereaved cannot believe in that theory, then they must come to terms with it in their own ways.  Either way; the loving, understanding & supportive care of those closest to them is crucial. 
 
I'm sure you're acquainted with the pioneering work on death & dying of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross who first wrote about the seven stages of loss recovery.  A support group using this material is undoubtedly available in the DC area.  Regardless of what a person's belief system is (or not), the stages are the same for most people; it's just different as to how each person goes through them.  The grief process is different for every person.  Allowing each stage to have its own time is vital. 
 
{I've had many people pass on in my life:  my father when I was 35; my mother when I was 50, my brother whom I found when he was 53 years old, passed on seven years ago; my beloved dog in my childhood killed suddenly by a car--that I had a 40-year delayed reaction to when seeing a neighbor's dog run over--because I didn't properly grieve at the time; a beloved cat dying of old age & health complications seven years ago, and other biological & extended family members.  . . and there's been, of course other losses in my life as well.  Each loss was different in its recovery time and how I processed it.  Many times my grief expressions or attempts to honor the deceased were not understood by others; in some cases actively fought against -- and the length of time it took me to go through each stage was often not understood.  However; I insisted on Having my Process and being True to myself with it, and eventually I moved through the stages. 
 
I've never been close to anyone who had someone close to them commit suicide -- actually. . . it just occurred to me that the brother of my first therapist, 40 years ago, was an example.  With her being a therapist, she felt particularly stricken because of being in the kind of profession that is supposed to be able to help people prevent this kind of tragedy.  She wisely sought therapy herself to help her deal with the loss.  I respected her greatly for that in believing in the value of her own "medicine" & seeking help to work through her own personal experience.
 
{During times of loss, especially of a beloved human or pet, the believer has the comfort of seeing them again in heaven and the non-believer can be tempted I suppose to wish for that kind of comfort.  However; there are other ways of coming to terms with loss of a loved one, other than adopting a theory.  I've always wanted to "know" rather than not know.  False security, to me, is worse than no security at all.  The act of holding a remembrance ceremony is one of the better ways, I think to begin to process one's loss.  To celebrate the Life of the person, rather than to focus on mourning the life not continuing.  Yes; we're ALL going to die someday--but it seems particularly tragic when one dies so young--when on the verge of so much achievement.}
 
A film that came out some years ago, was particularly interesting to me -- & made me realize there are many ways to look at what happens "afterward" -- was "What Dreams My Come" starring Robin Williams.  Made as much sense to me as anything else I'd heard, read or seen.  Perhaps, at some point, it can be of help to your friend.  It's at times like these that people of all persuasions, I think, want to cry aloud and ask "Why?"  "Why?"  "Why?"
 
I had such a question plague me 2 years ago when someone I knew died suddenly--when seemingly very healthy & with every reason to live--& had stated so.  I spent hours writing a tribute to her widowered husband and "crying aloud" myself the questions.  Just a few months ago I saw him in person unexpectedly for the first time, and he said how important that writing I did was to him -- & that he was still reading it every few weeks or months, even as he was making a new life for himself.  In a second encounter several months after that, he revealed more information about some of the probable causes of her death, which helped me to understand more reasonably the "Why" of her sudden death.  But until that conversation, I had to accept the mystery and go on with my life.  It did help, though, to get it "out" of my system with the writing. (If you think it might help, I could email you that essay.)  
 
Perhaps your friend can do some therapeutic writing to help her also, in addition to letting herself emotionally go through the various stages -- they can be rather neatly appearing at times and/or all jumbled up together.  It does take time . . . and one needs to be extra gentle to oneself during this time, while still doing what's necessary to preserve their own life and those they may still be responsible to/for.  The old saying that "Life is for the Living" is quite true, it seems, even as the Living feel the need to honor those who are not with us any more. 
 
Regardless of how one processes the loss, what the bereaved are left with are the memories of what they shared with the loved one.  Those are more precious than anything.  They are permanently etched into our beings, and though fade with time, they can be "called up" with remarkable clarity & intensity quite quickly.  So. . . it underscores even more the importance of creating good experiences with ourselves and others while we're alive.  Because, our memories are really all we have left in the end.  Things fade more quickly, but the memories of experiences are much more durable and can last a lifetime.
 
I will be thinking of you and your dear friend in the days & weeks to come and wish you both and those closest to her comfort, strength, rest, courage and some kind of peace, eventually, along the way, as well as a return to living for her.
 
With empathy, sympathy and condolences,
 
~Norma Young
 
 

From: Annelies Joss <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Friday, June 1,[masked]:38 PM
Subject: Re: Acknowledging & Confirming Response from Annelies:Re: [atheists-36] Recovering From Religion? Give Yourself Time

I've been busy on Care2 and No religion 2 groups. 
Unfortunately I couldn't make it to DC for the rally. Too much stuff going on at home. I'm actually very upset I didn't get to go, for other reasons too. The friends I always stay with when I go to DC had some horrible stuff happen a couple of weeks after the rally. Their 19 year old son, a freshman at Yale, committed suicide. I think he was planning on being home for that  weekend to go to the rally with us (but I'm not sure). I ended up going to DC for the remembrance get-together they had for Zach. Wendi, Zach's mom is very devastated. She didn't just lose her son, but her best friend too. I honestly don't know how she'll go on. I'm very worried about her. 
I'm hoping to go see her again very soon.
This weekend I'm off to Massachusetts for another good friend's b-day.

One of these days I'm hoping to making to one of the get-togethers our atheist group has too, and meet some of you wonderful people!
Annelies

On Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 7:54 PM, Norma Jeane Young <[address removed]> wrote:
Hi back, Annelies --
 
Was GREAT to hear from you again.  Been missing seeing you on the OFH Mailing List postings.  Bet you had a great & enlightening time at the Richard Dawkins event in Washington, D. C.!   Would love to read your impression of it on the OFH site.  Hope you can get down here for a monthly mtg. sometime in future, as you had hoped to do before the Dawkins event, but couldn't fit in 2 trips that close together.  [The June mtg. is going to be quite special--a 50-min. DVD documentary looking at the "Why's" of why people are prone to want to create or invent a god.]  Jack (organizer of our OFH group) brought a video of a Richard Dawkins interview to a recent meeting for us to see.  First time I had seen his face or heard his words.  Was very impressive.  I liked the calm, reasoned way he spoke.
 
I can understand even more fully now why you raised your children the way you did--because of your own childhood that had forced religion & lesser fun because of it.  I went to church schools all my school age years too.  And the SDA church college I went to required attendance at both morning & evening worship as well as weekend meetings.  Heavy indoctrination.  Also; the girls could not wear sleeveless dresses & had to take an extra girl along on a date if they went off campus.  And NO DANCING whatsoever--not even folk dancing!  It was all considered evil.  That's why dance has been such a passion of mine since I began to healthily rebel.
 
Your husband sounds "made to order" for you.  Glad you found each other so you could raise a healthier, freer generation together!
 
Thanks for the "great weekend!" wishes. 
 
And hugs to you, too.
 
~Norma:) happy&gt;:D< big hug&gt;:D< big hug
 
 

From: Annelies Joss <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Friday, June 1,[masked]:29 PM
Subject: Re: [atheists-36] Recovering From Religion? Give Yourself Time

Thanks Norma! I was also raised having to go to church every weekend, and I went to catholic schools all my school age years. I feel lucky to have found a man who just like me didn't fall for all the nonsense, and gave me the courage to stand up for my own beliefs. 
Have a great weekend!
hugs,
Annelies

On Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 6:11 PM, Norma Jeane Young <[address removed]> wrote:
Wonderful response, Annelies! 
 
Your personal experience is very powerful & very compelling.  Makes so much sense, too.  Your children are so lucky to have been raised with honestly guided Free Will.  I liked your answer to your children when they were very young that this god is everything "good" they see in the world. . . and then gave your own opinion that you don't believe this god is a person.  Very interesting, also that you let your daughter Hannah make her own choice to live with the Christian family & be exposed to the other world -- & trust her to choose for herself.  Even though very much in love with the Christian man, she employed reason also to recognize the difficulties that would be inherent in trying to have harmony in raising their children (unless he was open-minded to raise them with a diversity of exposure belief (or Non-belief) systems, which apparently he was not willing to do).
 
I envy the fun you all had together as a family on Sundays -- enjoying each other and doing pleasurable things together -- instead of trying to adhere to a dictum as I had that it was "unlawful to do one's own pleasure on the "Lord's Day."  So Sabbath (church day--the SDA's were like "Jewish Protestants" in worshipping on Saturday) for me was no pleasure & Sunday was "back to work" day.  Our family didn't have much fun.  I feel the effects of that yet -- with a deep sense of being fun-deprived & in need of "catch-up" yet.
 
Thanks for sharing your experience.  You add to the growing "body of evidence" that people can indeed be "good without god."  And; as my own personal testimony attests (posted a few hours ago to this site), "God" "gets in the way of" being good -- AND having fun.
 
--Norma

From: Annelies Joss <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Friday, June 1,[masked]:15 PM
Subject: Re: [atheists-36] Recovering From Religion? Give Yourself Time

I don't feel the need to replace religion with anything. I've found myself to be much happier without religion in my life. We will not be able to get those firm believers to be non-believers, I think. My husband and I have always been very honest with our children, even when they were very young and asked us who this god is that so many talk about. When they were very young  I used to tell them that everything "good" they see in this world is what some people call "god", and I told them that some people do think this god is a living being who created everything, but that I don't believe that at all. 
Our children, all 3 of them, are very much atheists, and that's their choice. Our 22 year old daughter, who chose to stay in Albuquerque when our family was transferred yet again, stayed with a christian family who home schooled their 6 children. Our Hannah was also home schooled through high school, but we bought a program from a private national high school, and we did make sure she was learning real science, and no religion.
For some time, while living with this family, she did attend the church that family attended, and she was also engaged to a christian young man she was very much in love with. Luckily before they got married, Hannah did realize that she is an atheist, and when they had a discussion about how they would raise their children, she quickly realized that being married to an American christian, would not work for her. 
I don't think our children have ever missed anything being raised in a non-religious family. On the contrary, we had our sundays wide open to do fun family stuff, while so many of their friends were forced to attend church.
On Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 4:24 PM, Randy Tod LaMonda <[address removed]> wrote:
I’m fine with replacing fairy tales with heaven on earth, but I don’t see that happening.  What is the number of religious people in this country—95%?  How many people attend church each week (I don’t know, but it’s a lot).  Are we to pull people kicking and screaming to Love of Life?  Reality is the most beautiful idea I know, but many live in fantasy land.  Why aren’t armies of people showing up at our doors demanding to be part of making the world a better, realer place?
 
From: [address removed] [mailto:[address removed]] On Behalf Of Norma Jeane Young
Sent: Friday, June 01,[masked]:48 PM
To: [address removed]
Subject: Re: [atheists-36] Recovering From Religion? Give Yourself Time
 
Try replacing it with fear-guilt-&-shame-free Innocent LIFE and Nature and Love in its deepest, broadest & most idealistic sense.  "Enjoy The Moment" & feel Alive IN it!  "Heaven" can be HERE on EARTH!
 
~Norma
 
 
From: Randy Tod LaMonda <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Friday, June 1,[masked]:34 PM
Subject: RE: [atheists-36] Recovering From Religion? Give Yourself Time
 
I keep wondering what we can replace religion with.  If you take away something rewarding, you have to replace it with something equally rewarding.
 
From: [address removed] [mailto:[address removed]] On Behalf Of Jack Maurice
Sent: Friday, June 01,[masked]:31 AM
To: [address removed]
Subject: [atheists-36] Recovering From Religion? Give Yourself Time
 
Dear Members,
Consider reading this article. It's excellent! Also feel free to pass it on to others you may know that are having difficulty moving forward to enlightenment.




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