Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Alone, Part 2

What fabulous comments on my last post...I received several in private email as well. As always, thanks to you all for the support.

I do feel it important to clarify, however, that my many theist friends are not at all excluding of me, or proselytizing, or in any way pushing me away. Many many have been so helpful, and supportive. I guess it's sort of a cultural difference...a different map of the world that makes me feel isolated. What they turn to for comfort is not comforting to me.

There has been the occasional acquaintance who says something useful like "How can you believe you'll never see him again? Wouldn't it soothe you to know that you'll see him again in heaven?" to which I (would like to) reply, "I'd like to believe he'll be alive in my Christmas stocking on December 25, but that doesn't make it so." The truth is that I don't believe I'll ever see him, hold him, talk to him again. I think when you're done, when the neurons in the brain stop firing for long enough, that you're gone. What many see as the soul, I see as physics.

In so many ways, I think this is liberating. As a commenter noted, there is no "why" in physics. There is no blame, there is no plan. There is random chance that a cell in Henry's brain underwent a genetic transformation after which it no longer obeyed the laws of it's fellow brain cells, and grew and grew and grew until it killed him. It happens predictably, based on probability. There's nothing and no one to be angry about. I got to skip that part of grief.

There is of course a flip side. When there is no god, no one skippering the boat, the question of futility looms large. Perhaps that is something that theists struggle with as well....my guess is that it has a different flavor.

I appreciate all of the support and suggestions, there were several leads I hope to pursue.


Anonymous said...

I totally understand what you mean by a "different map of the world." I am a non-theist as well (love that term) surrounded by theists and even though we can grieve and celebrate and love together, there is always a divide between us, a moment when I turn away or grimace slightly or just plain feel out of place.

Sometimes I wish I could believe in a god, how much easier it could be. But I don't, I can't, and I won't make myself for the sake of comfort.

I do hope you find someone who share both your grief and your road map. It's a very comforting thing, indeed.

A Doc 2 Be said...

Just thinking of you... not sure what to say...

/many warm thoughts


SOCKS said...

This post is full of clarity for me. And I am comforted by your conviction which is not tangled in a web of the abstract.

Well written, well spoken.

Such a short, indelible life -

red fish said...

I admire the way you stick to your beliefs even when they may not be the most comforting. I was part of a support group for women who had miscarriages. They all got comfort in the fact that they would see their babies in heaven. Mine was a molar pregnancy - no baby just fetal tissue. They encouraged me to believe that I'd see a baby in heaven too, but I can't just make up my beliefs as I go. It is what it is.

I hope you find the support you need. I'm a Christian, and I hope you don't mind that I've been praying for you. I wish you all the best in your difficult journey.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Smak, have not been on your blog for a while...good to catch up.
As was said by many, would miss your blogs...but you gotta do what you gotta do. And besides, I know where you live......
Am married to an atheist, (or is the PC word non-theist)--what a great guy. We have never had in depth conversations regarding this. What has always been important to me is who the person is.....their belief system is none of my business.
Hugs to all of the Smaks

did you hear I actually wore my sweater the other day--will miracles never cease.

Steph said...

I was raised to believe in god, but as I got older (now 36) I began to see life as random with a huge amount of seeming futility.
This doesn't change whether I say a prayer or not.
I think religion is something to cling to.
For me, the futility of life combined with the randomness lead me to question whether or not a god exists. I still don't have an answer.

flybigd said...

Dr. Smak, while not directly aligned with this post, I hope you will read "A Journey Beyond Imagining" in this week's JAMA. To call it beautiful writing is to fall far, far short. Best to you and your family. http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/302/20/2188?etoc