**Note: I've been dancing around getting this written for what seems like an eternity, my apologies to any of you who may have been waiting for it.
Sometimes the "grace of God" ain't so graceful...
off topic observation: usage of the word ain't to create a playful tone. Is that indirectly mocking those that use ain't in normal speech?
which reminds me that I need to re-teach some students that in (or just n) is not the correct spelling of and.
Being in the unfortunate position of having a dead child, one quickly discovers that most people have no idea what to say to you. In that case, they turn to religion. Okay, so perhaps that is a gross generalization, but living in the upper portion of the Bible b elt it is a pretty good one. So let's keep in mind that I know a lot of what I am saying is based on generalization because otherwise I'm going to be here all day covering a gazillion bases.
It was what should have been Joel's first holiday season; obviously, we were a little down. You'll find holidays are just another part of the year where you spend extra time remembering your child, which just makes everyone else not remembering sting so much more. (for more on this subject, read every DB blog out there)
I was actually a little hopeful when we received a package, a gift for our first son, from a family member.
I'll save the family issues for now, but its worth noting that this family member has suffered a loss as well; a miscarriage. Of course, at the time, the family directive I received was to not speak of it. When news of Joel's death hit the wire, this person was one of the first to call and she offered to talk since she'd been through something similar. We really appreciated that, even though we never took her up on the offer; we just weren't ready to talk to someone just yet.
So yeah, the package. Included was a card; a religious card. Now I never received any Muslim words of comfort, or Jewish or Hindi (at least I don't think so...) so I can't say what kind of stuff they might say, but I know Christianity is always good for throwing out some quotes without a whole lot of thought for how they'll be read (how did it take me this long to get to my thesis??).
Of the card in question, it is long gone at the time I'm finally writing this, so an exact quote I cannot give. The basic idea, however, was letting the Lord take our earthly sorrows, although I occasionally remember it as "small, earthly troubles". Thing is, we only had one earthly sorrow, which we didn't find to be small at all, we certainly didn't consider it merely 'earthly', and, to be perfectly honest, we already had a bit of a bone to pick with the guy that was supposed to make it better!
I know what the sentiment was, but the words, they just weren't right. Kind of like, "you're child is in the arms of Jesus" Well thanks Jesus, but I'd prefer to be holding him; I'm not keen on strangers holding my baby, and no offense, but they didn't have a lot of Purell in Nazareth, so if you would be so kind...
"God works in mysterious ways" What? like Batman? Sorry, even Batman wouldn't kill my baby.
Now it isn't that I'm some angry Atheist or just mad at God or something. In fact, I understand and believe that religion can be quite a comfort. The thing is, religion is just like the rest of the world: it can be good or bad, depending on how you use it.
I certainly like to believe that everyone who misspoke or did something to add salt to our wound had the best of intentions. However, it is undeniable, and probably unavoidable, that there are a great and many things that occur once you enter the DB-parent club that send the message, "hurry up and get the fuck over it." Or there are the dismissive items, like the card in the gift. My apologies to Anonymous, but sometimes the thought just doesn't count; sometimes shitty gifts/words are just plain shitty.
Some of the people who comforted us most did not throw scripture at us, they simply "walked the walk" and acted like good Christians, which, believe it or not, is the same way a good Muslim, Jew, Hindi (...I think), or any other religion (Pastafarians included) would behave: they were nice to us. The real 'grace' came from the kindness of the people we were around. Those that found ways to comfort us and show their care sometimes by doing nothing more than acknowledging our pain and offering to be there, or just being respectful.
One may choose to believe that scripture is the absolute Word of God, and they have that right, but words are still words, with multiple definitions, connotations, interpretations and other -ations. So if you find yourself in the unenviable position of needing to comfort a grieving parent, maybe, just maybe, it is better to follow the instructions instead of trying to hand them out.