Stage 4 Grief/Mourning

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AmyJ
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Stage 4 Grief/Mourning

Post by AmyJ » 29 Mar 2018, 12:09

How do you handle how someone dies now that your perspective has changed so much and you aren't sure about an afterlife, judgement, or the plan of salvation?

I have been poking around this topic in my brain for several months now without success.

BACKGROUND:
My step-grandmother died about a month or so ago. I am saddened by passing, but relieved that she is free from the pain and suffering she was going through. She was in her 70's/80's with a terminal brain tumor. She followed the State of California's death on a person's terms statues and set a time-table for her passing. She was also raised a member of the church, but left 30+ years ago. When I would visit her we would sing hymns together sometimes. She taught me a lot about owning a respectful relationship with a spouse - both in terms of expectations and in her personal choices. [This is mentioned because my TBM husband looks down on her leaving the church belief system, and my TBM(ish) mother looking down my step-grandmother's decision to time her death instead of having her time of death left undefined.]

MAIN TOPIC:
I feel the loss - mostly that there is no longer an opportunity for her to teach me other things.

What I did not expect to feel was the emptiness/gaping abyss when contemplating her passing into the next life. For the first time, I was not certain of an afterlife. The concept of Heaven or Paradise rang hollow for me. I can deaden this by not thinking about it or talking about it in very limited terms. Does this feeling go away eventually?

The only blanket of thought that has helped in bridging what I knew then with what I believe now is this:
I choose to believe that she [and everyone else who dies] return back to that God that gave them life."

It's my personal decision - my faith narrative - that there is a God, and that life is of God. I don't add qualifiers of judgement - I am barely qualified to judge my own choices, I am in no ways qualified to judge how someone else did on the course God set out for them (if God was involved in how their life course went).

What is written in your personal faith narrative for Stage 4 (or beyond) grief over someone (or something) passing on?

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dande48
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Re: Stage 4 Grief/Mourning

Post by dande48 » 29 Mar 2018, 12:27

The last time I really, strongly felt the Spirit was a few weeks ago when reading a favorite poem of mine, "The Garden of Proserpine", by Algernon Charles Swinburne.
From too much love of living,
From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no life lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea.
I don't know if there is a life after this one, but I don't think there is. Yet, even if there is no life after this one, if I were to die this very moment, I would die happy. I once heard that misery lies in the gap between what we hope to happen, and what we fear might happen; that once we come to terms with the worst that could happen, no matter what everything is going to be okay. All that we have is a gift, and when those gifts are taken away, there is no reason to complain; only gratitude for what we were given.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

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SilentDawning
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Re: Stage 4 Grief/Mourning

Post by SilentDawning » 29 Mar 2018, 13:14

AmyJ wrote:
29 Mar 2018, 12:09
How do you handle how someone dies now that your perspective has changed so much and you aren't sure about an afterlife, judgement, or the plan of salvation?

I have been poking around this topic in my brain for several months now without success.
To me it's not much different from having a TBM perspective. As a TBM, I was never really sure if the detailed but vague rendition of the afterlife we learn in Mormonism would come to pass. I hoped it would, and would say I believed it, but I really didn't know.

I tend to believe God will be merciful based on the ways I have tried to be a helpful, good person in this life. And I do intend to share the causes of my own disaffection, the vagaries and dangers of "faith", and the fact that I realized this "gospel of happiness" was causing me more misery than I could handle. I will be interested in the responses I get at that time.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

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DarkJedi
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Re: Stage 4 Grief/Mourning

Post by DarkJedi » 29 Mar 2018, 13:22

I do believe there is an afterlife, but I'm not at all sure about it and I don't believe it probably fits the LDS narrative about it.

My nephew died a few months back, and more recently a couple old stalwarts of our ward died. The thing is, I never really held this thing about "He's in a better place now" because I never really knew if he or she was or not. I'm glad the old stalwarts aren't suffering in life anymore. My nephew committed suicide, but he was a good Christian (Methodist) and if there is a heaven or paradise or whatever I think he's there despite or maybe because of his mental illness.

I hope that there is a merciful and loving Heavenly Father.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Curt Sunshine
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Re: Stage 4 Grief/Mourning

Post by Curt Sunshine » 29 Mar 2018, 15:40

My view on death and life after death is based purely on faith, since I have no idea whatsoever intellectually about what happens after we die.

My practical brain calculates the likelihood, and it doesn't compute well - but I still choose to believe in life after death. I want to believe it, so I make the conscious choice to do so. I have no proof either way, so I choose the outcome I want to believe.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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mom3
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Re: Stage 4 Grief/Mourning

Post by mom3 » 29 Mar 2018, 20:34

The longing for an afterlife keeps me going. I know it's strange. It's unprovable. Plus religions answers make it even murkier, but the souls I love best are on that other side. I still want them. I make decisions based on the idea that they are there and we will be hanging out together. The images in my heart of them pulling up chairs on the edge of a cloud and watching me are the dearest images I hold.

The decisions I make aren't the "Should I go to the temple so we can be together" kind. They are more like, "Okay Grandma, I always said I'd write your story. So here goes." Or - I am choosing this vacation because Grandpa always wanted to go there or was there when he was a Marine.

Maybe it's my over abundant imagination, but I feel that I feel them. Very specific times. I was having a horrible, chaotic day one day, just before I totally lost it, I felt my Great Grandmother (a woman I have never met, she died when my mom was 17) say, "Laugh about it. I always do. It's so much easier." The minute I heard it I remembered so many times when she used sense of humor as her weapon - I only know that from the stories I have heard.

The grief is still real, but for now, their is an afterlife for me. And it is fertile and functioning and purposeful. If when I die, it turns out different, it won't matter. I will have used the hopes and memories to get through this life.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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LookingHard
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Re: Stage 4 Grief/Mourning

Post by LookingHard » 30 Mar 2018, 05:03

This is an interesting topic as my dad passed away just a few years before my faith crisis started and I was close to him. Feeling that I could see him again was comforting, but I had a ton of unanswered questions about it.

I can't say exactly why, but my scientific mind just seems to be a bit OK that when I die the lights go out and I am no more. No more joy nor pain. This encourages me to do something useful with my time hear on earth more than just releasing a lot of carbon dioxide.

On my less atheistic days I have just come to the point I can't see how any God would create us with a deep need for social connection then mix everyone up once they die. I also can't see being alone as that is the definition of hell.

Roy
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Re: Stage 4 Grief/Mourning

Post by Roy » 04 Apr 2018, 09:19

I am perfectly fine with the idea of an afterlife. I find comfort in the ideas of reunions, and fulfillment, and enlightenment after death.

Where it gets ugly is where we say that if you are not part of my religion or do not live the way I do or check all the same boxes that I do then your afterlife will be miserable. Then the belief in the afterlife can be manipulated to get people to act in certain ways in this life - and can stoke the fires of guilt, shame, and fear.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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On Own Now
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Re: Stage 4 Grief/Mourning

Post by On Own Now » 05 Apr 2018, 07:39

AmyJ,

As you probably know, I'm an Atheist. My view of what is after death is the toughest part of my own belief system. Here's what I wrote in a long-ago thread:
On Own Now wrote:
15 Feb 2013, 10:49
I'm an atheist who stays LDS. So, I believe firmly that there is no afterlife. I think that believing there is no afterlife affects me in the following ways:

- I want to make my life count... it's the only one I get, I want it to be good.
- I think I worry less about politics and current events than I used to, simply because I don't think of life as part of a great plan, but rather a wonderful gift, and it's up to me to enjoy it.
- It bothers me that I am mortal and then... that's it. But I've learned to focus on the two items above.
- For me, the death of a loved one is very, very bitter. There is no "better place" for them to be in. I think this is the hardest pill for me to swallow... not my own death, but the permanent, irrevocable loss of people I love.

How to accept it? Honestly, I think my belief just sucks. I hate it. I wish there were another way... But, there's really nothing I can do, other than shrug my shoulders and go do something fun that I can only do because I am alive right now.
What I would add to that today is that I believe the only way we live on is in the memory of our loved-ones. My dad lives on in my memory. At first, one thing that really struck me about losing my dad was that there were so many experiences that only he and I shared and now I was the only one left who remembered them. But now, I am grateful that I do remember them, because as long as I do, then they are a part of true history. After I can no longer remember, those experiences will be lost forever... but for now they still exist.

I want to make sure that I'm worth remembering someday for the people I love. That will be my afterlife.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

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LDS_Scoutmaster
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Re: Stage 4 Grief/Mourning

Post by LDS_Scoutmaster » 09 Apr 2018, 05:49

Reading through your posts I realized I vary between a tbm-ish view with parts of the plan of salvation (I can still speak in the Mormon vernacular as I have a hope that there is truth to the beautiful parts), to forms of reincarnation (probably another thread in and of itself), to the voids of nothingness (which for me are seldom). I resonated with many views like LH, nibbler, Amy, SD, Roy, dande, and DJ. I think I just quoted everyone in the thread.

My current belief/hope/feeling is that there is something, but there's really no way to define it until I am out of this existence. Which would be part of the stipulation of being here. In other words, if you could figure out for sure what the meaning of this life and what the existence will be like after this, it would ruin the experience of being here and trying to figure it out. I don't know if that makes a lot of sense or I'm explaining it well.

After a few recent deaths of close friends and relatives, I saw how their own Faith carried them through difficult times and enriched their lives. I saw how choices they made in this life affected their outcomes of death in the end. I still believe they are somewhere, but whether they are even conscious of their old lives now or not is a mystery to me. I like the idea that this life is so important as it is all there is that it should be lived well and full, wrongs righted, etc. And also that upon leaving this life I may climb to a better state of existence because of the choices that I have made in this life to overcome, learn, grow, and make this works better for me and everyone else that's in it.

It's a widely varying outlook but I am fairly at peace with it, I know I'll evolve in my belief system as time goes by. It also gives me peace that those who have passed have evolved on their own timelines as well, I hope to meet up with everyone at some point and reminisce about what a long strange trip it's been.
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=6311&start=70#p121051 My last talk

We are all imperfect beings, dealing with other imperfect beings, and we're doing it imperfectly.

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