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Author Topic: Frustration and Confusion  (Read 5027 times) Average Rating: 0
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Justin Kissel
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« on: January 11, 2010, 04:13:14 AM »

Yeah. So it's 3am here, and I'm still up. I just want to throw this out there, and get some feedback. I'm not mad at God. If anything, I am having a hard time believing in God right now, and it doesn't make sense to be mad at someone who doesn't exist. But if God does exist, I'm confused and frustrated with Him. People like to say that God is in control, God wants what is best for us, etc., but it doesn't seem that way to me. I'm not going to get into personal details, but let's just say, in just about every way that I can think of, it would have been better for Mary to have died a year ago. Things have happened in the last 6 months in particular which made this the absolute worst time that Mary could have been taken.

I'm not really looking for an explanation, or answers. I just want to know, on a practical level, how people have dealt with situations like this? I've been living alone--for pretty much the first time in my life--for months now, and I didn't have even a hint of lonliness or boredom. Yet now I often feel alone. I feel like all spiritual motivation or inclination has been sucked out of me. I have so many questions--which will probably never be answered. I've been depressed plenty in my life, but I've never experienced sadness or a feeling of loss like this before. I feel as though people are candles, and even though we were seperated, Mary was the one providing light in my life, and now her light has been extinguished. And now I'm left alone in the dark. I can hear other people, but I can't see. What do you do?
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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2010, 05:01:19 AM »

Yeah. So it's 3am here, and I'm still up. I just want to throw this out there, and get some feedback. I'm not mad at God. If anything, I am having a hard time believing in God right now, and it doesn't make sense to be mad at someone who doesn't exist. But if God does exist, I'm confused and frustrated with Him. People like to say that God is in control, God wants what is best for us, etc., but it doesn't seem that way to me. I'm not going to get into personal details, but let's just say, in just about every way that I can think of, it would have been better for Mary to have died a year ago. Things have happened in the last 6 months in particular which made this the absolute worst time that Mary could have been taken.

In your opinion.  A year from now could have been the absolute worst in reality.

Quote
I'm not really looking for an explanation, or answers. I just want to know, on a practical level, how people have dealt with situations like this? I've been living alone--for pretty much the first time in my life--for months now, and I didn't have even a hint of lonliness or boredom. Yet now I often feel alone. I feel like all spiritual motivation or inclination has been sucked out of me. I have so many questions--which will probably never be answered. I've been depressed plenty in my life, but I've never experienced sadness or a feeling of loss like this before. I feel as though people are candles, and even though we were seperated, Mary was the one providing light in my life, and now her light has been extinguished. And now I'm left alone in the dark. I can hear other people, but I can't see. What do you do?

One thing, when I was in your situation, was coming to grips with the fact that the previous situation was not what I had thought it was, and there was no going back because it wasn't real in the first place.  One can't be listening to an echo and think he is having a conversation.
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2010, 05:10:53 AM »

You're not the first person to suggest that maybe things could have gotten worse, or as someone else put it, maybe some bad choices might have taken root, so to speak. But that doesn't at all address what I said. I said things would have been better had she been taken in the past, as compared to now. I'm not claiming to know whether things would have been better or worse in the future. And it is my opinion, sure, based on, well, every single factor that I can think of. I'm sorry if I can't ignore the obvious and "just have faith". And honestly, I think it would be hardly fair for God to allow me to be wired a certain way, and then ask me to react a different way at exactly the time that I am most likely to resort to my most basic inclinations. I don't mean to be combative here, and I guess really I'm not even sure what I was expecting in this thread. Sorry.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2010, 05:11:12 AM by Asteriktos » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2010, 05:18:51 AM »

Yeah. So it's 3am here, and I'm still up. I just want to throw this out there, and get some feedback. I'm not mad at God. If anything, I am having a hard time believing in God right now, and it doesn't make sense to be mad at someone who doesn't exist. But if God does exist, I'm confused and frustrated with Him. People like to say that God is in control, God wants what is best for us, etc., but it doesn't seem that way to me. I'm not going to get into personal details, but let's just say, in just about every way that I can think of, it would have been better for Mary to have died a year ago.

Denial is the first stage of grief.  The final stage is acceptance.  There is a minefield of emotions in between, including Bargaining.

Things have happened in the last 6 months in particular which made this the absolute worst time that Mary could have been taken.

You had no control over Mary's passing.
 
I'm not really looking for an explanation, or answers. I just want to know, on a practical level, how people have dealt with situations like this? I've been living alone--for pretty much the first time in my life--for months now, and I didn't have even a hint of lonliness or boredom. Yet now I often feel alone. I feel like all spiritual motivation or inclination has been sucked out of me. I have so many questions--which will probably never be answered. I've been depressed plenty in my life, but I've never experienced sadness or a feeling of loss like this before. I feel as though people are candles, and even though we were seperated, Mary was the one providing light in my life, and now her light has been extinguished. And now I'm left alone in the dark. I can hear other people, but I can't see. What do you do?

Find the light by first, cultivating the light within you.  Sounds simplistic, even tacky, but you have to start from square 1.
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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2010, 05:40:46 AM »

You're not the first person to suggest that maybe things could have gotten worse, or as someone else put it, maybe some bad choices might have taken root, so to speak. But that doesn't at all address what I said. I said things would have been better had she been taken in the past, as compared to now.
Would you have been feeing better if she had gone a year ago?  Not to go into detail, but you have already has an adjustment stage of being without her.  Would it have been better if you gone "cold turkey?"

And again, not to go into detail, but what you are talking about is that if she had gone a year ago, there might be a lot less troubling questions.  It might be that you have to answer those questions, no matter how troubling.

And then of course is the x factor in the equation: we don't know what will happen down the road.
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« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2010, 06:01:56 AM »

Is a cold, logical response really what Asteriktos needs here?
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« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2010, 09:00:26 AM »

Is a cold, logical response really what Asteriktos needs here?
Perhaps.
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« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2010, 09:28:30 AM »

Yeah. So it's 3am here, and I'm still up. I just want to throw this out there, and get some feedback. I'm not mad at God. If anything, I am having a hard time believing in God right now, and it doesn't make sense to be mad at someone who doesn't exist. But if God does exist, I'm confused and frustrated with Him. People like to say that God is in control, God wants what is best for us, etc., but it doesn't seem that way to me. I'm not going to get into personal details, but let's just say, in just about every way that I can think of, it would have been better for Mary to have died a year ago. Things have happened in the last 6 months in particular which made this the absolute worst time that Mary could have been taken.

I'm not really looking for an explanation, or answers. I just want to know, on a practical level, how people have dealt with situations like this? I've been living alone--for pretty much the first time in my life--for months now, and I didn't have even a hint of lonliness or boredom. Yet now I often feel alone. I feel like all spiritual motivation or inclination has been sucked out of me. I have so many questions--which will probably never be answered. I've been depressed plenty in my life, but I've never experienced sadness or a feeling of loss like this before. I feel as though people are candles, and even though we were seperated, Mary was the one providing light in my life, and now her light has been extinguished. And now I'm left alone in the dark. I can hear other people, but I can't see. What do you do?

It's early days yet and you must still be in a state of shock and disbelief. Everyone experiences and expresses grief in their own way, but I wonder if this is really the time to ruminate over "might have beens" regarding Mary, rather than simply accepting things the way they were and giving yourself fair time to focus on mourning her passing? This is something you had no control over and *ifs* and *ands* aren't going to make it other than it is, or make it easier to bear.
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« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2010, 10:56:19 AM »

C.S. Lewis found this situation similarly difficult and described his journey to come to grips with it in his book "A Grief Observed". It might be worth a read.
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« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2010, 11:03:55 AM »

Dear Justin, - I don't think I have anything intelligent to say to you. How are your little girls doing? Are they with you?
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« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2010, 11:23:29 AM »

Justin,

Though I can't imagine the very specific pain and psychic damage that must come from losing a wife, I have lost both of my parents (one at 47 the other at 53) in the past five years and am still trying to process those events in terms of "God's will". My conclusions so far are this:

-I hold, in part, to CS Lewis' quote: "Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand." For me, the old religious adage of your loved one being "in a better place" has no consoling effect on me, nor has it increased my faith in God.

-It has been impossible for me to interpret these deaths in any "religious" sense using my rational mind to do the interpreting.

-Time really does heal wounds, or at least draw your mind away from them.  Sometimes this feels like forgetfulness, which brings with it a certain sense of guilt at having forgotten to continue to identify with the pain of loss. There's little one can do to avoid this.

-I have only been able to interpret these events in retrospect. I think it is easier to look back on the past and see where God has been, rather than look now and see where God is presently.

-God is not "responsible" for these deaths.

That's all I have at the moment. Wishing you better days.
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« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2010, 04:00:11 PM »

I too have not lost a spouse, but I worked for seven years in a pediatric hospital; my beloved father died suddenly at 44 of a disease that can be easily managed by medication today (I was 19), and I lost my dear only brother (he was pretty much the only one who ever laughed at my jokes) in a car accident before his 30th birthday, so I am somewhat acquainted with death.
I have no easy or comforting answers for you - I have found most of the answers given by others to be unsatisfactory at best. The "best" answers often seem specious, and too easy - on the order of: "they're in a better place..." To which my answer was, "No! Their place is here with the people who love them, and whom they love." Other answers make God sound like some cosmic monster who created us and gave us the capacity to love just so that we could have our hearts broken - a God who often seems to act like a mean child tormenting poor animals.
All I can tell you is that my belief in God is pretty much the only thing that keeps me from taking a long jump off a short pier. If I didn't have the assurance that someday somehow in some way I will be reunited with my loved ones, then I believe that life is not worth a plugged nickle. Without that assumrance, it is "nasty, solitary, brutish and short," and meaningless.
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« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2010, 06:39:00 PM »

I have no answers. I just want you to know that I am praying for you, and I can sense your pain. Although human circumstances are widely different, we all have experienced (or will experience) times where we feel hopeless, confused, desperate, and unable to make any sense of what is happening or why it has happened. God is in control, and yet He seems to do nothing to intervene and alleviate our pain. If He exists, then He sure seems callous. It's easy to feel that way. I guess that's part of the Mystery we talk about. I guess that's the crux of faith. Trusting that He is and that believing in Him is not in vain, even when it seems like it at the time. In those dark times, theology and reason can seem hollow. Maybe that's why we pray. We just cry out to God. We lay our burden on Christ, even though we doubt the reality of Christ. And don't we see this in the Psalms, and in the life of the disciples? Hurting, confused, angry, doubting men who prayed to God and followed Our Lord even when nothing made sense. It's a bloody, dark, and agonizing Cross to which we cling. That which we call "Good Friday" seemed anything but good at the time. But Sunday is coming. The tomb is empty. Victory, Hope, Life, and Joy always have the final say. So just try to bear your cross my friend. I don't know what else to say. Forgive me.

"Lord have mercy."

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« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2010, 06:46:12 PM »

There is a God, Justin. And He loves us. I'm sure of it.
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« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2010, 06:56:01 PM »

If there is no God we suffer alone and in vain.
If there is a God, we suffer, and he will comfort you. All you need to do is ask him.
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« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2010, 07:00:14 PM »

God be with you, Justin!
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« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2010, 08:25:43 PM »

I too have not lost a spouse, but I worked for seven years in a pediatric hospital; my beloved father died suddenly at 44 of a disease that can be easily managed by medication today (I was 19), and I lost my dear only brother (he was pretty much the only one who ever laughed at my jokes) in a car accident before his 30th birthday, so I am somewhat acquainted with death.
I have no easy or comforting answers for you - I have found most of the answers given by others to be unsatisfactory at best.

What authority allows you to say that the answers given by others to be unsatisfactory at best?  I was married for close to 5 years and spent over 95% of that time separated from my spouse.  I still view my ex-wife as a friend (which is tested when she goes off on me for no reason and I stay away from her to avoid domestic trouble).  I don't resent my decision to marry her and conceive a child with her although I realize that a death of an estranged spouse is a vastly different situation than the one I just described.  I can't put myself in the OPs shoes; however, I wouldn't question my faith in God if any of my loved ones were to die suddenly.

The "best" answers often seem specious, and too easy - on the order of: "they're in a better place..." To which my answer was, "No! Their place is here with the people who love them, and whom they love." Other answers make God sound like some cosmic monster who created us and gave us the capacity to love just so that we could have our hearts broken - a God who often seems to act like a mean child tormenting poor animals.

I believe that my loved ones who reposed are in a better place as chanted during the Orthodox Memorial Service.

All I can tell you is that my belief in God is pretty much the only thing that keeps me from taking a long jump off a short pier. If I didn't have the assurance that someday somehow in some way I will be reunited with my loved ones, then I believe that life is not worth a plugged nickle. Without that assumrance, it is "nasty, solitary, brutish and short," and meaningless.

Maybe we just said the same thing using different semantics.   Huh  Cool  Huh
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« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2010, 11:10:40 AM »

What authority allows you to say that the answers given by others to be unsatisfactory at best? 
My own personal experience. That is why I said "I have found..."

Quote
I can't put myself in the OPs shoes; however, I wouldn't question my faith in God if any of my loved ones were to die suddenly.
And I earnestly hope and pray that you will never have to find out, that you will never find yourself in that situation.


Quote
Maybe we just said the same thing using different semantics.   Huh  Cool  Huh
I rather think so, actually.
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« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2010, 11:30:18 AM »

Hey, Justin, it's good to see that you're not totally down. You're obviously seeking a way out and that's good. Others would have already given up. Wink

I've been living alone--for pretty much the first time in my life--for months now, and I didn't have even a hint of lonliness or boredom. Yet now I often feel alone. I feel like all spiritual motivation or inclination has been sucked out of me. I have so many questions--which will probably never be answered. I've been depressed plenty in my life, but I've never experienced sadness or a feeling of loss like this before. I feel as though people are candles, and even though we were seperated, Mary was the one providing light in my life, and now her light has been extinguished. And now I'm left alone in the dark. I can hear other people, but I can't see. What do you do?
This is how it feels; anyone who has lost such a close person knows. I once lost my light as well. Losing your spirituality is natural. Love is one soul in two bodies (~Aristotle) and losing your half is equal to dividing your soul.
I can only say that there is no other way than bursting out. You never close a hole like that, you just learn to live with it.

To forcefully start a relationship with God is the last thing He wants. If you truly want to be with Him, you will do it when you're ready.
Until you regain consciousness and return home, God will be waiting and many will be praying (because I do believe that many members of this forum are daily praying for you).

You've got two girls that love you and you have to love. Don't let your current state affect their lives. Your depressing moments are something you will definitely regret later. The sooner you raise up, the better it will be for your daughters (and you, of course!). I think that they need a strong archetype; I was in need, for once.


P.S.: Maybe this is the time where you'll get to throw away forever that bothering ktos. Wink
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« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2010, 12:13:19 PM »

You never close a hole like that, you just learn to live with it.


Very true, based of course only on my own personal experience with grief and bereavement. Even though it seems impossible or even if you don't want to learn to live with it, you do.
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« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2010, 12:38:49 PM »

I don't have any "answers" for you, but if there is a God, and God is what we claim He is, then God is a big boy and can handle us being mad at Him. I think being angry with God at times is perfectly normal and quite a real experience. Any attempt to
"pretend" we're not mad is just pius nonsense. As though we could pretend we're not mad at God, and thus "trick" God into thinking we're not mad, if we can trick God then God isn't God at all, but either something else (an alien?) or simply doesn't exist to begin with.

 Just like people in relationships with other people sometimes we get frustrated and angry at each other. I think the same is true with our relationship with God if it's a real relationship, and not just one built on showy rituals. I've often gotten angry at God, and while as an Evangelical I saw that as a horrible thing, and even as an Orthodox I've been told it's "wrong" and sinful, or that I have "weak faith"... I've also come to know since I've been  Orthodox that  that is simply part of growing in a relationship with basically anyone, human, animal (who hasn't gotten frustrated at their dog for peeing on the floor?, or a friend, parent, spouse etc for other reasons?) or even angry at God. This is perfectly normal IMO. Even doubting God's existence is perfectly normal and again, if God is real, He can handle that too. And if He is love, then I'm sure He understands. If God requires unwavering faith then no one will ever meet that requirement no matter what some ancient legend of some ancient saint claims. Saints were people just like us who also doubted just like us. The dark night of the soul is a real experience whether or not a Catholic coined the phrase or not. And in the end God can handle it, and if He is God, He will understand our anger. And if He isn't God it won't matter anyways....

As far as feeling alone....the only thing I can suggest is try and stay connected with people if you can. The feeling of being alone isn't good, and we all experience it in different ways for different reasons at different times and circumstances in our lives. But KNOWING you're not alone in your "experience" is one thing that has helped me in the past. Being physically alone is often easy compared to being "emotionally" alone. I suppose that's why AA is so important to Alcoholics because of the shared experience. If you can't stay connected in the real world try the internet . . . whatever your feeling I guarantee you you're not alone.



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« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2010, 06:05:36 PM »

Justin, you know that there's a God and you also know that you are mad at Him.   What follows is to question or figure that either God is either a deadbeat dad, an absentee landlord, or that He really does not know what He's doing, or that He simply does not have the power to be a God that you can respect.   He is not doing things that make sense to you.   Why believe in Him since when you did believe in Him it made no difference in your life?   In time you will come to realize that He makes a huge difference, but you don't need to realize that right now.   Allow yourself some time to heal.   During this time, ask Him to start the healing process.   Force yourself to talk to Him, even if in anger.   To pretend that He is not there to supress your anger, confusion, depression, and hurt will not work.   It is a vain effort.   His ways, thoughts and values are high above ours, not that ours "mean nothing," but rather that He alone knows the whole picture.  We do not.  The important thing is that it was the right time for Mary--even when not evident to those of us still on the linear time frame.   Why?  The whole of our existence is to learn to trust God, to entrust ourselves, our loved ones, those who hate us, those who don't yet know us but shall, and all our lives to Him, to trust Him that He knows what is best, even when it does not seem right from the finite perspective we find ourselves in.   
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« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2010, 06:13:30 PM »

Never give up 'hope'... real Christian Hope. It is a light when we find ourselves in these dark hours. My thoughts are with you and my prayers are with with you also. Lord have Mercy.
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« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2010, 07:06:21 PM »

What authority allows you to say that the answers given by others to be unsatisfactory at best? 
My own personal experience. That is why I said "I have found..."

I've taken heat for making similiar utterances based on personal experiences.  I have no right to judge anyone's content as "unsatisfactory."  The only thing I can do is try to understand and if that fails ...  silence is golden Lips Sealed ....   angel
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« Reply #24 on: January 12, 2010, 08:05:22 PM »

I suggest a stiff drink and some escapism.
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« Reply #25 on: January 12, 2010, 08:26:02 PM »

"... Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be — or so it feels — welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?

I tried to put some of these thoughts to C. this afternoon. He reminded me that the same thing seems to have happened to Christ: 'Why hast thou forsaken me?' I know. Does that make it easier to understand?

Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not 'So there's no God after all,' but 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'


---

"Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand."

- C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed


Asterikos, I highly recommend that you read A Grief Observed, as Lewis tackled some of the same questions of doubt and confusion as (I assume) you are facing.

"Sooner or later I must face the question in plain language. What reason have we, except our own desperate wishes, to believe that God is, by any standard we can conceive, 'good'? Doesn't all the prima facie evidence suggest exactly the opposite? What have we to set against it?

We set Christ against it. But how if He were mistaken? Almost His last words may have a perfectly clear meaning. He had found that the Being He called Father was horribly and infinitely different from what He had supposed. The trap, so long and carefully prepared and so subtly baited, was at last sprung, on the cross. The vile practical joke had succeeded."


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« Reply #26 on: January 12, 2010, 09:06:57 PM »

Alcohol is a depressant.  Alcohol lowers serotonin levers; people feeling depressed should never drink.  People that have a history of depression or mood disorders should not drink.
-----------------------------------------
We are asking God to comfort you, Justin. Please continue to tell us what you are experiencing and tell us what we can do, in addition to praying, to help you at this sad time.   Please share some things about Cecilia for those of us that didn’t visit OCnet when she posted here.  Was she humorous like you?
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« Reply #27 on: January 12, 2010, 09:11:11 PM »

Justin, lots of hugs. You know I'm in your corner...
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« Reply #28 on: January 13, 2010, 12:28:00 AM »

I suppose I really should have kept up with this thread a few times a day. Now I feel like I have more responses to answer than I can manage. I've certainly read every response, though, and will try to touch on what was said. Regarding C.S. Lewis, I am in luck, because I bought a volume with many of his important works late last year, and it has A Grief Observed in it. I haven't been much in the mood for reading lately, but I will give it a shot (and if it doesn't work, I can always try again a few months from now). I thank you all for your honesty.

To FatherHLL, with all respect, I do not really agree with the idea that I know that there is a God, or that I am mad at Him. I've struggled with doubts about God for over 4 years now, though in the past my doubts were primarily due to intellectual issues. For the first time, I am experiencing doubts due to issues that are more emotional in nature. Am I mad? I dunno. Maybe you are right. But I don't really feel mad, so if I am, I'm fooling myself very well. I just feel frustrated. Let me say that there is a person in this world that most people would say I could and should justifiably be mad at. But even this person I am not mad at. I allowed this person to attend my wife's funeral, and I even let them hold my children (who they are very good with). But again, maybe you are correct. I suppose time will tell, as I learn to deal with and work through things.

My girls are doing fine, though they are not currently living with me. We felt it best for them to live with their grandparents for now, who live about 50 miles away frome me. They are financially in a better place than me, are able to give them their own rooms (with me all three of us would be sleeping in the same room), and are just in a better position in a number of other ways to take care of them. I am trying to get my life back on track, don't have much in the way of family/friends close by, and couldn't really take care of them 24/7 by myself. The plan is for me to go back to school (first night was tonight... math... yuck), get training and my degree, and work on some other things, so that I can be the Father and provider they deserve.

Regarding Mary, she was like me in that who she was changed over the years. I married her when she was about 20 and I was 23. We were both very much into Orthodoxy--praying, reading the lives of the saints, etc. Her main desire growing up was to have a couple kids and be a stay at home mom. Neither of us thought that she would be able to have kids--but it turns out she did. Both times that she went into labor things took turns for the worse, and they took her from the delivery room and were planning on a c-section. The first time her condition improved, and they returned her to the delivery room for a normal birth. Our first daughter, Athy, was about 4 pounds, 10 oz. at birth. Our second daughter did end up being delivered by c-section, and was about a pound heavier. At one point during the c-section I made the mistake of looking over the curtain at a time that they had not authorized me to do so. Big mistake. Messy business, those procedures are.

Mary was, well up until about 7 months ago, very humble, meek, and guileless. If either of us had an indulgence, it was usually books. She never really wanted fancy jewelry or stuff like that, not that we could afford it. I think she wore makeup (e.g. lipstick) maybe 4 times during our 6 1/2 year marriage. She was faithful and humble, but not with an attitude. She wasn't someone who would go around saying "I think Orthodox Christians shouldn't wear make up!"  That was just her personal choice, and she wouldn't have dreamed of pushing it on to others. She was very personable, very good with people. A bit shy, but there was something naturally charismatic about her.

She enjoyed reading. We probably had over 50 Star Trek fiction books. She also liked Harry Potter, LOTR, and... (please don't hold this against her Wink )... Twilight. She would read Orthodox books, but generally stuck to the non-academic stuff, like the lives of saints and stuff like that. She disliked the music I listen to, and the movies I watched, so we would playfully pick on each other. She was always more into pop or r&b. She loved recording shows on the DVR to the point that it was full. 

We really had grown apart in some ways over the years. But in some ways we were a mismatch to begin with. We didn't like the same forms of entertainment. I was into sports--both watching and playing them--and she had led a completely sedentary life due to her heart issues. She had even been exempted from gym in school. Our mutual love for Orthodoxy was really the main reason that we got married. Over the years, that changed. We changed. There were new reasons connecting us, especially our children. But in the end that wasn't enough, and she chose to go down a different path. It was her feelings that changed, she had fallen out of love with me. But my feelings hadn't changed for her. I had come to terms with the fact that she had moved on and wasn't coming back, but that didn't mean that I stopped loving her.
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« Reply #29 on: January 13, 2010, 12:40:31 AM »

I still feel like I'm not saying enough here.  Undecided  I appreciate all of you for your responses. Rosehip, Bogoliubtsy, and everyone else, thank you. And some of you have said few words on this particular thread, but you may have spoken elsewhere and tried to help me, and I am thankful. I feel almost guilty for my doubts about God, when so many peoople are praying and trying to offer words of encouragement or help. I'll be honest, many times words about God or spirituality seem hollow right now, like they aren't speaking of something real. Perhaps it is because of that that those of you who have lost loved ones or gone through traumatic experiences most resonates with me. Perhaps it will be some time before the words of certain people really get through to me. If I have not mentioned you by name, I apologize. I will be bookmarking this thread, so that I can come back to read your thoughts again as I work through the various stages and issues.
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« Reply #30 on: January 13, 2010, 02:40:33 AM »

I really can't offer any advice, but I just wanted to let you know that we are here for you, and it is good for you to voice things out to us.

I wish I could take away the pain, but I can't. Sad

If you need anything, feel free to let me know.

I'm here for you.
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« Reply #31 on: January 13, 2010, 08:46:42 AM »

Just jumping in here....

I lost my wife of twenty years six months ago, and my father five months ago (to the day). My wife died of brain cancer and the slow decline followed by a shockingly quick collapse has still not quite settled in for me, my daughter or my mother-in-law (who lives with us). I, too, have had days when God has seemed as distant as alpha centori, but also surprising moments when I have experienced the tenderness of God's caress in ways I never would have imagined before. And I realize that I've only just begun to deal with the grief. At the same time, I am also coming to recognize that the Faith is becoming to me an experience of God at once humbling and sometimes terrifying in ways I could not have imagined before. For what it's worth, I am reading and rereading the Psalter and the Spiritual Psalter of St Ephraim, and listening to the Monk of Holy Cross chanting the psalms all the time. It helps me. I can't say whether it would help you.

Just know, you're not alone... in your grief, in your experiences, in the sometimes hidden love of God.
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« Reply #32 on: January 13, 2010, 12:20:48 PM »

I feel almost guilty for my doubts about God, when so many peoople are praying and trying to offer words of encouragement or help. I'll be honest, many times words about God or spirituality seem hollow right now, like they aren't speaking of something real.


I think I know how you feel, partly anyway. While I've not lost my parents or a spouse (seeing as how I'm not married) I have lost people close to me. My spiritual father in particular who next to my parents, is the person I've been closest to in my life. When he died I remember one priest attempting to "comfort" me said, "oh it will get better"...I was mad at him for saying that. I didn't want it to "get better"...I wanted to cry, mourn, weep and that's all. I thought and said then I wasn't angry at God, but in retrospect years later I believe that I was, I just didn't know it.

 I don't open up myself to very many people so the fact I had opened up to this man then a couple years later he died was devastating to me. He really was like a second father to me in many ways.  All the spiritual words of wisdom meant nothing and seemed so fake then. I didn't doubt God then, but I often do now, and most "spiritual" answers  to practical life questions seem hollow to me. In the midst of grieving I find the bottled answers to life's big questions the most grating.

I don't know if this is what you mean or how you feel, but I say again if God is real, and God is God, then He can handle all of this and would understand. So if possible, try not to get hung up in all the guilt over your doubts, though that may be unavoidable.

Last but not least I am truly sorry for your loss, and can't add much beyond that.

edited to rephrase a statement
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« Reply #33 on: January 13, 2010, 01:07:55 PM »

Quote from: NorthernPines link=topic=25306.msg396796#msg396796
...When he died I remember one priest attempting to "comfort" me said, "oh it will get better"...I was mad at him for saying that. I didn't want it to "get better"...I wanted to cry, mourn, weep and that's all...
...All the spiritual words of wisdom meant nothing and seemed so fake then. I didn't doubt God then, but I often do now, and most "spiritual" answers  to practical life questions seem hollow to me. In the midst of grieving I find the bottled answers to life's big questions the most grating.


Beautifully said. That is what I have felt also.
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« Reply #34 on: January 13, 2010, 01:34:51 PM »

I am deeply sorry for your loss.

'Doubt' is an element of our human condition. If anyone has found a way to defeat it, I greatly envy them.

I have reached the point where I believe that there is more to our existence that what we are able to perceive by ourselves.

If this life was all that there was, then God would indeed seem cruel when lives come to an end too soon. But I believe that God does exist and that He has revealed Himself to us, and we do not have to fear or to lose hope.

Peace be with you.
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« Reply #35 on: January 13, 2010, 02:12:01 PM »

I still feel like I'm not saying enough here.  Undecided  I appreciate all of you for your responses. Rosehip, Bogoliubtsy, and everyone else, thank you. And some of you have said few words on this particular thread, but you may have spoken elsewhere and tried to help me, and I am thankful. I feel almost guilty for my doubts about God, when so many peoople are praying and trying to offer words of encouragement or help. I'll be honest, many times words about God or spirituality seem hollow right now, like they aren't speaking of something real. Perhaps it is because of that that those of you who have lost loved ones or gone through traumatic experiences most resonates with me. Perhaps it will be some time before the words of certain people really get through to me. If I have not mentioned you by name, I apologize. I will be bookmarking this thread, so that I can come back to read your thoughts again as I work through the various stages and issues.
I can empathize with this. I remember when I was separated from the person who was the love of my life and lost my job all in the same week. All of this lead to me losing my apartment, and shortly after I fell and broke my arm. Then I found myself painfully ill for two weeks. All of this was unbearable but the most unbearable part was the separation from the person I had loved and planned on spending the rest of my life with. Many people told me that God was working all of this for my good etc. but it all seemed so hollow and empty. Spiritual advice provided no comfort. Rationally, I knew that God exists and the Christ is Lord but I just couldn't feel it at all. While I was in the midst of all of this I didn't believe I would ever feel normal again or grow as a result of such pain. However, little by little things did in fact change and I did climb out of this hole and the amazing thing was that I did grow and I learned more about holiness as a result.
That being said, I know its hard to hear any of this now, so just know that there are people out there thinking about you and hoping for your happiness.
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« Reply #36 on: January 13, 2010, 02:39:25 PM »

I'm not sure exactly what it is you want here.

Since one of every four posts of yours is an explanation or excuse of your non-Christianity, it's fruitless to try to answer anything in "Christianese." You know the answer and a priori reject it. You claim not to be fishing for compliments or anything, and I'm not going to dispute that. I simply question the wisdom of doing what you have done so far, especially since you have love and support offline.

My earlier post about "alcohol and escapism" is just an attempt to be pro-active in a non-Christian sense. Since you know, intellectually, how Christians deal with pain, and since you are not a Christian, but are nevertheless in pain, it would probably be more meet to recommend some secular folk remedies. As for escapism, that's a really open ended solution but since the kiddies are away I would recommend a singles bar.

On a more serious note, you must learn not to hold things in life too dearly, for nothing is permanent. Trust me, you'll get over it.
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« Reply #37 on: January 13, 2010, 02:45:46 PM »



On a more serious note, you must learn not to hold things in life too dearly, for nothing is permanent. Trust me, you'll get over it.

On an even more serious note, maybe you need to learn some compassion. Lose anyone you love deeply lately?
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« Reply #38 on: January 13, 2010, 02:50:26 PM »

I'm not sure exactly what it is you want here.

Since one of every four posts of yours is an explanation or excuse of your non-Christianity, it's fruitless to try to answer anything in "Christianese." You know the answer and a priori reject it. You claim not to be fishing for compliments or anything, and I'm not going to dispute that. I simply question the wisdom of doing what you have done so far, especially since you have love and support offline.

My earlier post about "alcohol and escapism" is just an attempt to be pro-active in a non-Christian sense. Since you know, intellectually, how Christians deal with pain, and since you are not a Christian, but are nevertheless in pain, it would probably be more meet to recommend some secular folk remedies. As for escapism, that's a really open ended solution but since the kiddies are away I would recommend a singles bar.

On a more serious note, you must learn not to hold things in life too dearly, for nothing is permanent. Trust me, you'll get over it.

Ok.
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« Reply #39 on: January 13, 2010, 03:08:40 PM »

I will tell you what I have been telling my husband and myself over the last year- if you truly have lost all faith, and ability to have faith you wouldn't have a problem with feeling this way. Apathy is the opposite of faith. Although it is painful to doubt, doubting does not mean that you don't believe. Just walk thru each day and take what is coming in the best way that you can. These prayers helped me a great deal over the last year (and still do);

"Morning Prayer of Metropolitan Philaret
Lord, give me the strength to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely on Your holy will. Reveal Your will to me every hour of the day. Bless my dealings with all people. Teach me to treat all people who come to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unexpected events, let me not forget that all are sent by you. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me the physical strength to bear the labors of this day. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray in me. Amen."

" O Lord, You who steadied the hand of Peter as he began to sink on the stormy sea, if you are with me, no one is against me. Grant to me the shield of faith and the mighty armor of the Holy Spirit to protect me and guide me to do Your will. The future I put into Your hands, O Lord, and I follow You to a life in Christ. Amen "

When tragedy strikes it is very hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel of sadness. If you try to think too long term you will drown. What you have to do is find joy in each day. Something, anything to find joy in each day. Just think; "Today I will make it, today I will find a moment of joy.." I haven't lost a spouse. I did have my spouse gone for a long time with the knowledge I could lose him at any time. But the situation I was in, and that you are currently in are completely different. I will continue to pray for you and yours.
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« Reply #40 on: January 13, 2010, 03:10:16 PM »

I'm not sure exactly what it is you want here.

Since one of every four posts of yours is an explanation or excuse of your non-Christianity, it's fruitless to try to answer anything in "Christianese." You know the answer and a priori reject it. You claim not to be fishing for compliments or anything, and I'm not going to dispute that. I simply question the wisdom of doing what you have done so far, especially since you have love and support offline.

My earlier post about "alcohol and escapism" is just an attempt to be pro-active in a non-Christian sense. Since you know, intellectually, how Christians deal with pain, and since you are not a Christian, but are nevertheless in pain, it would probably be more meet to recommend some secular folk remedies. As for escapism, that's a really open ended solution but since the kiddies are away I would recommend a singles bar.

On a more serious note, you must learn not to hold things in life too dearly, for nothing is permanent. Trust me, you'll get over it.
Are you seriously speaking to him in this way while he is suffering? I don't think you are helping at all.
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« Reply #41 on: January 13, 2010, 03:13:08 PM »

As for escapism, that's a really open ended solution but since the kiddies are away I would recommend a singles bar.

A rebound relationship is likely to make things worse rather than better.  I do not agree that the OP has a priori rejected anything which has been offered to him.

The OP has already scored 165 points on the stress index because he has experienced both death of a spouse and separation from a spouse in a very short period of time.  If he feels that this forum is one of many outlets for support, we have no right to castigate him in his time of sorrow.
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« Reply #42 on: January 13, 2010, 03:16:23 PM »

As for escapism, that's a really open ended solution but since the kiddies are away I would recommend a singles bar.

A rebound relationship is likely to make things worse rather than better.  I do not agree that the OP has a priori rejected anything which has been offered to him.

The OP has already scored 165 points on the stress index because he has experienced both death of a spouse and separation from a spouse in a very short period of time.  If he feels that this forum is one of many outlets for support, we have no right to castigate him in his time of sorrow.

Amen
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« Reply #43 on: January 13, 2010, 03:17:05 PM »

I'm not sure exactly what it is you want here.

Since one of every four posts of yours is an explanation or excuse of your non-Christianity, it's fruitless to try to answer anything in "Christianese." You know the answer and a priori reject it. You claim not to be fishing for compliments or anything, and I'm not going to dispute that. I simply question the wisdom of doing what you have done so far, especially since you have love and support offline.

My earlier post about "alcohol and escapism" is just an attempt to be pro-active in a non-Christian sense. Since you know, intellectually, how Christians deal with pain, and since you are not a Christian, but are nevertheless in pain, it would probably be more meet to recommend some secular folk remedies. As for escapism, that's a really open ended solution but since the kiddies are away I would recommend a singles bar.

On a more serious note, you must learn not to hold things in life too dearly, for nothing is permanent. Trust me, you'll get over it.

Are you an Orthodox Christian? Because I get the sense from your phrasing that you aren't. The Orthodox view of salvation isn't as simplistic as you make it out to be. No Orthodox Christian an ever say they are "saved." I hope that you mean well (although from the singles bar comment I can't say that I am too sure about that). Being raised a protestant I have seen/heard this line of thought regularly. But for an Orthodox Christian we are all on a path of salvation. We are not "saved" we are being saved. You speak as though our brother's fate is sealed. We are not Calvinist Christians. You are not "saved or not saved." And if our dear brother has dropped a few rungs on the ladder of faith, that does not mean that he can not make his way back up. Salvation is a process, not a prayer, not a feeling. And as long as our brother struggles at staying on that ladder, whether he "feels" like a Christian or not, I think we should treat him like one.
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« Reply #44 on: January 13, 2010, 04:36:24 PM »

I'm not sure exactly what it is you want here.

Since one of every four posts of yours is an explanation or excuse of your non-Christianity, it's fruitless to try to answer anything in "Christianese." You know the answer and a priori reject it. You claim not to be fishing for compliments or anything, and I'm not going to dispute that. I simply question the wisdom of doing what you have done so far, especially since you have love and support offline.

My earlier post about "alcohol and escapism" is just an attempt to be pro-active in a non-Christian sense. Since you know, intellectually, how Christians deal with pain, and since you are not a Christian, but are nevertheless in pain, it would probably be more meet to recommend some secular folk remedies. As for escapism, that's a really open ended solution but since the kiddies are away I would recommend a singles bar.

On a more serious note, you must learn not to hold things in life too dearly, for nothing is permanent. Trust me, you'll get over it.

Could you be anymore crass? Do you believe this is a loving response? Could you imagine St Silouan or St Seraphim giving a response like this?


Yours in Christ
Joe
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