Finding God in Death

Four months ago, my brother-in-law passed away suddenly.  He decided to go out for a run before going to get a haircut and his heart gave out on him.  He was only 35 years old and he was the closest thing I had to a brother.

I don’t want to say I feel lost without him, but it still hurts.  My wife is devastated as she practically raised him.   His three kids are trying to learn how to deal with their emotions at the loss and figure out how their lives will now go.  His widow is basically engaged to a man who doesn’t pay child support or have a job.

I judged her pretty harshly when I first found out, but that has past.  God has shown me some of her damages so I understand why she is doing what she is doing.  It doesn’t excuse the damage she is doing to her kids or the hurt she is causing others, but I understand it more and I have sympathy.

So many things have gone through my mind once I found out.  That is the first time in a long time that I have felt shock.  I had no clue what to do, but I knew I had to be strong for the family.  I am not sure if I had to be strong, but that is what I felt like I needed to do.  I have cried so many tears in private, but I sucked it up for the family.

I questioned my relationship with God while trying to process it.  Not if God was real, but why didn’t he warn me that this was going to happen.  What if it could have been prevented and I was just too busy to hear the warning.  I thought about Jesus and wondered if I should have tried to pray for him to awake and walk.  That one kind of sounds silly, but if we are supposed to do what Jesus did then why not?

I am thankful for the time I have had with him but I regret the missed opportunities.  he wasn’t a Christian but he really wanted to believe.  I understand why he struggled and I know God did too.  I am not sure if that means he is saved, but I sure hope so.

What if I wasn’t too busy and I could have shared more with him?  I could have talked to him more and maybe he would have believed.  I think it is human nature to blame ourselves to some degree, but as a Christian I still feel some guilt for not doing more.  I know salvation was between him and God, but our words and actions will play a bearing on how people will react.  We are warned not to have idle words as we are responsible, in part, for what comes of them.

The loss came on the heels of struggling with my relationship as I pursued my degree in religion.  I didn’t think that studying the thing I loved would be so detrimental, but I love God and not the religion.  You cant really study God.  Either you get to know Him or you don’t.  Studying Christianity without walking it out is probably why so many people lose their faith when they think they are pursuing God.

I am not sure where I will go from here, but I know God has been waiting for me.  He talks to me and the prophecy is starting to come back.  He has helped me through this grief.  This grief is like none that I have ever experienced before, but now I can better relate to those who have suddenly lost someone .  I don’t think God took him so that I would learn this lesson, but it is something I will take out of it.

I know I cannot do what makes me happy without God.  I try, but I am always miserable.  My wife can spot it immediately, even though I try and deny it.  I know God is real because He has changed me.  I know He is real because He never left me.  I know He is real because He is always with me.  I think my brother-in-law knew He was real, because of my relationship with Him.

2 thoughts on “Finding God in Death

  1. For many reasons (personal and professional), I can appreciate your loss and grief and you have my sympathy for having to go through all of this and experience consequences that are unfair and undeserved. I am involved morning, noon, and night with hospice and palliative care for a city of a half million and so unlike most people I spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with death and its effects on real people in real life.

    This may be news to you (and it often is for a great many religious people who reject it out of hand for all the wrong reasons) but the ability to cope with loss I find is directly and negatively correlated to the extent of religious belief in an interactive, interventionist, personal god. The more profound the religious beliefs are, the greater and long lasting is the suffering of those affected by the death of someone in their lives. (They and you not only have to deal with the real world consequences of death but add to themselves the burden of trying to understand the divine meaning and purpose that supposedly directs us all not just to but beyond death). To be perfectly blunt (and as hard as it may be to believe), by far those who come through their grief and adjust most effectively in life-affirming ways are those who hold no religious beliefs.

    Startling, isn’t it?

    I think the religious are sold a bill of goods about the ‘comfort’ believers supposedly gain from holding confidence in an afterlife. But it is my experience that this belief in all its various manifestations causes far more anxiety about this great unknown (and the fate of the departed) than any appreciable comfort that such a life-after-death belief can provide. I get the feeling that this is causing you the same anxiety… although it appears you will try to suppress it the same way most religious folk do: by reaffirming your belief in such a god… as if this ‘solves’ the problems that cause the anxiety! Again, my experience is that it doesn’t; it exacerbates it and makes the life-affirming recovery process almost impossible to achieve because the final answers that could do so are never forthcoming. They must simply be believed, which is the root source of the afterlife anxiety to begin with! In other words, your religious beliefs add to your loss, add to your suffering, and makes your recovery that much more difficult.

    A simple consideration: if you were to die tomorrow, how would want your loved ones to respond? Why not apply that answer to yourself?

  2. Hospice works takes a special person, so my hats off to you. I have had two grandparents go through hospice care and its really a special time for people to get the chance to try and come to terms with the impending loss.

    It doesn’t surprise me religious people struggle the way they do. I saw it first hand with my brother-in-laws death and with others. I agree that many of the religious have been fed a palatable story that they hold on to, but rarely is it the truth. It makes me sad to watch people struggle with trying to reconcile what they hoped was true with what they are experiencing. Its tough.

    Despite my sadness, i have had peace about what happened. I am not really big on asking why something happens, because there is never a good enough reason to satisfy people. i heard many reasons as people try to reason this out, but i rejected them. The truth is i will probably never know why and i am ok with that.

    I mainly wonder what it must have been like for him in those last moments. I can imagine fear as he didn’t want to leave his family and maybe fear of the unknown, but the fact that they found him on his hands and knees, as if he was praying, brings about a sense of peace..

    If i were to die tomorrow i would ask people to be themselves. i would want them to be honest in their emotions and be willing to express their feeling with others. I find many people feel lost and lonely because they don’t recognize that other people are feeling the same way. As for me, if i were to die tomorrow, i would be sad for my wife and family. They would have to continue on without me and make a new normal for themselves. I used to have a fear of dying many years ago, but when i realized what it meant to be saved that went away. i don’t really have a fear of dying as i am confident that i am saved.

    i truly appreciate your sympathy.

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