Monday, October 27, 2014
The Flip Side of the Coin
Also, we have a new writer joining us next week. Her name is Tricia, she lives in England, and she will be sharing her story with you starting next week. Welcome, Tricia...we look forward to getting to know you!
For today though, you have me filling in as the Monday writer! I am the 'founder' of this blog and also the editor. My job, as I see it, is to provide relevant content for a blog about living life as a widowed person. I ask our writers to share their thoughts honestly, and to write about their now. Finding writers for the blog would be much easier, actually, if I asked writers to share the wisdom they've collected as they look back on their loss journey. But as they say hindsight is 20/20. What I want is the minute to minute trudging through the pain, the confusion, the questioning, the incredible growth, the flashes of clarity...I want to read about those moments, as they happen. So, that is what I ask from our writers, and they consistently deliver. They are rock stars in my eyes.
I love thought provoking posts. Kelley Lynn's blog on Friday about her experience with opinionated folks who offer comfort via forcing their religious beliefs upon grieving people is a perfect example. In my experience, platitudes rarely provide the intended comfort, but instead create further emotional distance from the griever. However, religious platitudes have the extra consequence of forcing the grieving person to either remain silent about their personal beliefs or risk the bashing that may occur if word gets out that they don't believe in a "better place."
Personally, I don't believe in the use of phrases that include the words 'better place' or 'another angel' or 'hopefully your loved one was saved.' I've spoken to enough widowed people over the past nine years to know that these words often wound, despite whatever genuine desire to provide comfort prompted the saying. I founded Soaring Spirits (the organization that hosts this blog) to be a secular organization very intentionally, and regularly hold our programming, and our message, to that secular standard.
Here is the irony, my desire to ensure that every widowed person has access to a community of support regardless of gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, marital status, race, political views...is grounded in my personal faith.
When I read Kelley's post, I struggled with a keen desire to apologize to her, and to every one of you who commented, about the pain that has been inflicted on you by another person in the name of religion or of God. I wanted to say, "We aren't all like that! There are quiet people of faith who don't need you to believe what they believe in order to offer incredible support and understanding." I almost wrote those words in reply, and then I remembered. Oh yes, she isn't talking to me. Right, she pointed that out in the beginning of her post. Yet, as a person who believes in God, I feel somehow silently responsible.
When 'religious people' are misrepresented by the loud, obnoxious, intolerant people who cause harm in the name of a particular set of beliefs I find it frustrating, and disappointing. I can never figure out why people don't know that their actions speak louder than their words. How anyone can think that hate breeds love is beyond me. But, at the end of the day, the squeaky wheel is the one that is heard, and we remember pain more often than we remember kindness.
Today, I want to be the representative of the quietly religious folks here in our community, those of you who didn't comment on Friday because you were worried that you might be lumped in with the extremists by accident, but who vehemently disagree with the tactics they often employ. The more I thought about this problem, the stronger I felt about voicing an apology. I want to apologize to any of you whose opinions and beliefs have been disregarded by someone who felt you needed to 'find God' in your time of grief. I want you to know that not all religious folks find daily comfort in their loved one being in a better place. Call me selfish, but I can't think of a better place for Phil, than here with all the people who love him. I don't claim to know what the 'plan' is, and like many of you, I have disagreed loudly with the 'dead partner plan.' Kelley's post wasn't speaking to me, but I will accept responsibility for the hurt caused by others, because your collective pain makes my heart ache. Sometimes the sins of the few are born by the innocent many.
At the end of the day, aching hearts is what brings us to this space each day. Thank you for the kindness you show each other. Thank you for participating in the culture of tolerance that allows us each to espouse our own beliefs without risk of retribution. Thank you for understanding that grief is both universal, and oh so personal.
Grief has broken our hearts. That brokenness has the potential to expand our view of the world, because every barrier has been crushed by the magnitude of our loss. We stand together in a powerful emptiness, imagine the good we can build from here.