Grief and Religious Trauma
Grief might be uniquely challenging for you if you grew up in the evangelical church and no longer identify with that way of life. Here’s why.
(TW: disturbing doctrines)
You were probably taught:
– that unless the person you loved and lost subscribed to a VERY specific version of Christianity, they are being consciously tormented for all eternity (Even if you no longer believe this or other doctrines, those pathways are ingrained in our brains and will come popping back up with a vengeance whenever we are at our most vulnerable)
– That God would do anything to bring you back to him, ie: God killing your person to make you come running back to a traditional version of the faith was considered a real possibility of something God might do and would logically lead to frantically wondering if your spiritual life choices killed the person you love
– That if you love something besides God too much (ie loving the person you lost) God will take them away, ie: God killing your person because you love them too much was a real possibility.
– That it’s actually possible you did something to cause your person’s death, like some accidental wrong thought or a sin unconfessed, and God is punishing you with their death (probably resulting in paralyzing guilt and panic attacks)
– That you need to always have the joy of the Lord through hard times; therefore not being given permission to grieve, or fully feel your sadness, confusion and anger
– To “trust in God”, “Lean on him”, “Give it to God” or a host of similar ideas, whatever the hell those things mean. (and being shamed if you aren’t able to perfectly accomplish a very vague idea with no tangible steps)
– that Earth is not our home, our real lives start in heaven, etc, which can lead to the temptation of suicide when the person you love is on the other side
– that the tragedy of what happened isn’t really so bad because they are in a better place or it’s God’s will (again, not being allowed to fully grieve, being shamed for natural emotions, toxic positivity)
– that God allowed this or that God’s plans are higher than our plans. I’m sorry, but allowing something is the same as causing it, and people go to prison for that.
In addition to toxic doctrines, you might also deal with the following:
– Pressure from family to conduct a Christian funeral
– Christians upon hearing about the tragedy immediately asking you “They were a Christian, right??!”
– Being told to “go to the Scriptures” when you might be wrestling with what happens after death, or wondering about how to connect with your loved one after they’ve passed. Not being given the freedom to explore your own unique journey through grief and healing.
– Not being able to talk about other mystical or spiritual rituals that are comforting to you in the wake of their passing, ways you might find to honor them or connect with them
If you are dealing with any of this, I’m so sorry, and you are seen here. I know exactly how it is because I’ve experienced all of these. Feel free to private message me if you need someone to talk to!