The Stages of Grief

the-five-stages-of-griefContrary to what the above image suggests, I have not been moving through the stages of grief in a way that will lead me out.  Instead I’m experiencing all of them all of the time.

Denial:

There are days I just flat out forget that I’m an atheist.  I answer questions about the bible, I check in on people and pray for them, I do theological research, plan for the future of our ministries, and try to write the best sermon possible.  All the while it’s as if I almost assume I’m still a Christian.  Then I think, “oh wait, you don’t believe any of this crap.  Like, none of it.”  But then the thought passes and I go about my day, doing everything the same as before.

Anger:

Now I’ve never been an angry person, but I hate the world.  Seriously, there’s absolutely no effing reward for doing “the right thing”?  So what, we all just lie to each other and play nice? Like, we try to be basically moral and courageous people to the determent of our livelihoods and there is no fucking point at all?  There’s no God to watch out for me kids if I die in a car accident?  People just die of horrible diseases and wars and there not a fucking thing anyone seems to be able to do about this?!

Sorry for the swearing, but I serious HATE life right now.  Not like I hate life and I’m depressed, no, I WANT TO PUNCH LIFE IN THE FACE!

Depression:

“Hello darkness my old friend”.  Honestly…honestly…my wife and my kids need me.  Only reason I’m alive right. Yep, the only reason I’m alive.  That is it.

I’m going drinking this weekend with some old friends. Then I’m going to the doctor for some meds because, I don’t know how to survive.

Bargaining:

Ok, so I don’t believe, woop tee doo.  Can’t I still be a pastor?  I mean, good community, I’m already skilled and trained for this profession, decent pay.  Who knows maybe the whole “the Church in America is in free fall collapse” won’t affect me?  I mean yeah, I still have at least 30 more working years ahead of me…but…can’t I still do this job forever?

Acceptance:

I’ve been actively looking for other employment fields.  And you know, maybe there’s other things I can do.

I would be nice to have Sundays off, even if the kids and the wife still go to church.

Maybe we could become Episcopalians, apparently you can be an Atheist and they’ll still make you a bishop (I’m looking at you Bishop Spong).  I mean even Richard Dawkins likes the COE because “it’s quaint, and no one actually believes it or takes it too seriously”.

But I’m ok with being an Atheist.

————————————————————————————————

I don’t know what to do with myself.

Pray for me?  Or whatever the Atheist equivalent is.

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7 thoughts on “The Stages of Grief

  1. This. I’m not a pastor (though I went to school for youth min), but this is what I’m going through. All the way through, I resonated, but then I got to the end bit about prayer. Had to make some hard decisions, and knee jerk reaction was to ask a friend for prayer, though… why? I don’t believe in it. Getting ready to do something emotionally weighty — I don’t pray beforehand, so I don’t have some assurance of “it will all work out” or “this is for a better purpose.” I’m less angry now, but… what *is* the no-longer-Christian version of prayer?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Funny thing is, as a christian when you say “I’ll pray for you”, how often did you fail to do it? It might be easier to count how many times you said it and then actually prayed. We were such liars about prayer. But it was the perfect sentimental statement that communicated sympathy and empathy. I wish we had a good phrase that replaced “I’ll pray for you.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There is no atheist version of prayer because prayer is really just saying, “I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through that.” or something similar. Instead of saying “I’ll pray for you.” Just say what you actually mean: it will be more meaningful and honest.

    But… if you’re using “I’ll pray for you.” as a replacement for some sort of real action you would have taken instead, then you just… take action instead. The kicker is that you actually have to do whatever you said you would do and it’ll probably be more difficult (and more rewarding) than praying for a couple minutes before bed. Or saying you will and then not, either or.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I just came to your blog and have only read a few posts, but find them refreshingly honest. I am concerned though, about your stated desire to get a prescription to help you cope with the changes you are enduring. I hope you don’t.

    I don’t have to tell you that life is full of traps that can grab hold of us and not let go. A chemical bandaid covering the pain you feel is as much a ruse as the religion you are leaving behind. Chemicals can end up causing even more problems down the line, leaving us with our original set of existential problems, plus a few more to boot.

    You can buck up and get through this. I think this because your blog is clear evidence of your ability to face issues and work through them.

    But please don’t feel like you have to do it alone either. Nobody can handle every issue themselves. There are a lot of very smart people in the world who will contribute a piece here and a piece there. Over time, questions are answered and problems are resolved.

    After clearing away one set of cobwebs, is now the time to be adding an entirely different set? An alternative approach involves keeping our eyes and ears open in order to let the beauty and wisdom of the world enter and add meaning to our lives.

    I wish you well, and hope you (and others in similar situations) can find happiness and fulfillment through helping humanity (and life in general) flourish. If I’m not mistaken, science has shown that helping others actually increases our own sense of well-being (through some chemical action in the brain). To me, that sounds a lot better all around than giving your money to Big Pharma.

    Like

    • Good reply. The truth doesn’t have to be so scary. We can face up to the fact that this life is all we have so lets make the best of it. You’re not alone. Hang in there.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I just came to your blog and have only read a few posts, but find them refreshingly honest. I am concerned though, about your stated desire to get a prescription to help you cope with the changes you are enduring. I hope you don’t.

    I don’t have to tell you that life is full of traps that can grab hold of us and not let go. A chemical bandaid covering the pain you feel is as much a ruse as the religion you are leaving behind. Chemicals can end up causing even more problems down the line, leaving us with our original set of existential problems, plus a few more to boot.

    You can buck up and get through this. I think this because your blog is clear evidence of your ability to face issues and work through them.

    But please don’t feel like you have to do it alone either. Nobody can handle every issue themselves. There are a lot of very smart people in the world who will contribute a piece here and a piece there. Over time, questions are answered and problems are resolved.

    After clearing away one set of cobwebs, is now the time to be adding an entirely different set? An alternative approach involves keeping our eyes and ears open in order to let the beauty and wisdom of the world enter and add meaning to our lives.

    I wish you well, and hope you (and others in similar situations) can find happiness and fulfillment through helping humanity (and life in general) flourish. If I’m not mistaken, science has shown that helping others actually increases our own sense of well-being (through some chemical action in the brain). To me, that sounds a lot better all around than giving your money to Big Pharma.

    Like

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