Stop telling the sick and dying to have faith, it isn't helping

This is for encouragement, ideas, and support for people going through a faith transition no matter where you hope to end up. This is also the place to laugh, cry, and love together.
Post Reply
User avatar
IT_Veteran
Posts: 510
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2018 2:36 pm
Location: California

Stop telling the sick and dying to have faith, it isn't helping

Post by IT_Veteran » Mon Dec 03, 2018 10:34 am

I posted this to Reddit this morning. Thought I'd share here too:

On Saturday evening, I went with my wife and kids, parents, and grandma to visit an aunt in a nursing home. They all know I'm out of the church, they've started to come to terms with it I think. While we're there exchanging Christmas gifts, my aunt is in a lot of pain. She's in her mid-50's, has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson's. It's progressed so fast and so severely that one of her nurses is convinced its ALS (though the neurologists she's seen previously have never suggested it). She's mid-50's but looks older than her 84 year old mom. Her hands are nearly paralyzed, she can't move her mouth when she speaks, and you can't hear her across the room. Always in pain.

While we're there, she relays through my mom that she would like my dad to give her a blessing. He's TBM all the way, but even he knows that no blessing is going to help her. He obliges anyway, simply blessing her that her pain would subside and she would be able to sleep.

Before we leave, she starts crying from the pain. She tells my mom that she can't sleep at night because it hurts so bad. My mom's response? "Remember [dad] just gave you a blessing, you just need to have faith." My mom is not a cruel person. I think she genuinely believes that with enough faith, my aunt's pain would go away for the night. The problem is, my aunt is beyond a point where the placebo of faith is any real comfort.

What. The. Frick. This woman has had a shitty life and been in pain for most of it. Her husband abandoned her when her kids were little and she raised them on her own. She's suffered from the arthritis since she was in her early 30's. She's had more than a few blessings, really ramping up the last five years or so as she's progressed to her current state. None of them have worked.

When I was a closeted unbeliever, she asked me for a blessing. I essentially told her that God loved her, he knows her pain, and that her time on the earth wasn't over yet. She cried the rest of the day because she just wants her life to be over. That was almost two years ago.

It was on our drive home last night that my wife and I discussed this aunt's place in the world. Both of us expressed that we hope she will leave this life soon to end her own suffering. There's no reason to prolong her life. I understand now that the law in some states permitting medically assisted suicide can be compassionate. I don't want my aunt to be gone forever, but this isn't about my discomfort with her eventual death, it's about what's right for her. This life is no longer beautiful or meaningful for her. It's pain. Torturous, debilitating pain.

The church's stance on faith, blessings, end-of-life care, and assisted suicide bother me today more than they ever have. It's not a pious fraud, it's actively inflicting additional and unnecessary pain on my aunt. I think it's doing the same, though a much different kind of pain on my mom, my grandmother, and everyone else that is witness to her suffering.

acmeist
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue May 08, 2018 12:42 pm

Re: Stop telling the sick and dying to have faith, it isn't helping

Post by acmeist » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:04 am

I am very sorry for your aunt and your family. It is very painful to watch someone suffer in pain for years and wish for death. I watched my father-in-law go through this for 7 years. He received blessings and prayers. I hoped that they would bring him comfort, but I don't know if they did through the years. I think they bring the church members around the person in pain hope and comfort, but that is small comfort for the suffering person. I hate the adding your name to the temple roll more, to be honest. It sits in a weird case for who knows how long as temple goers pray over it. Anyway, again I hope that your aunt finds some relief soon.

User avatar
IT_Veteran
Posts: 510
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2018 2:36 pm
Location: California

Re: Stop telling the sick and dying to have faith, it isn't helping

Post by IT_Veteran » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:43 am

acmeist wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:04 am
I am very sorry for your aunt and your family. It is very painful to watch someone suffer in pain for years and wish for death. I watched my father-in-law go through this for 7 years. He received blessings and prayers. I hoped that they would bring him comfort, but I don't know if they did through the years. I think they bring the church members around the person in pain hope and comfort, but that is small comfort for the suffering person. I hate the adding your name to the temple roll more, to be honest. It sits in a weird case for who knows how long as temple goers pray over it. Anyway, again I hope that your aunt finds some relief soon.
Thank you, truly. And as someone that is sure their own name will be on the temple rolls for the remainder of my life, I agree with that too. They can keep praying over me, but I'm never going back.

User avatar
slavereeno
Posts: 799
Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2017 8:30 am
Location: QC, AZ

Re: Stop telling the sick and dying to have faith, it isn't helping

Post by slavereeno » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:51 am

I am sorry to hear about your aunt. What a terrible thing for her to have to endure.

User avatar
IT_Veteran
Posts: 510
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2018 2:36 pm
Location: California

Re: Stop telling the sick and dying to have faith, it isn't helping

Post by IT_Veteran » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:57 am

slavereeno wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:51 am
I am sorry to hear about your aunt. What a terrible thing for her to have to endure.
Thank you friend.

User avatar
MoPag
Posts: 1397
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2016 2:05 pm

Re: Stop telling the sick and dying to have faith, it isn't helping

Post by MoPag » Mon Dec 03, 2018 12:21 pm

Your poor aunt!! How horrible. I don't think very many people have the emotional tool kit to deal with other peoples' suffering. So "just have faith" becomes their cop out. It's really aggravating and f-ed up because it shifts blame onto the person who is already suffering.
I think a better thing to do would be acknowledge her pain and the totally difficult and unfair life she has had. And then just grieve and mourn with her. Do try to fix anything, because you can't. Just help her be a little less lonely in her pain. That's really all you can do. ((hugs))
...walked eye-deep in hell
believing in old men’s lies...--Ezra Pound

User avatar
IT_Veteran
Posts: 510
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2018 2:36 pm
Location: California

Re: Stop telling the sick and dying to have faith, it isn't helping

Post by IT_Veteran » Mon Dec 03, 2018 12:32 pm

MoPag wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 12:21 pm
Your poor aunt!! How horrible. I don't think very many people have the emotional tool kit to deal with other peoples' suffering. So "just have faith" becomes their cop out. It's really aggravating and f-ed up because it shifts blame onto the person who is already suffering.
I think a better thing to do would be acknowledge her pain and the totally difficult and unfair life she has had. And then just grieve and mourn with her. Do try to fix anything, because you can't. Just help her be a little less lonely in her pain. That's really all you can do. ((hugs))
That statement really upset my wife. Me too. I've just taken some time to process it. My wife pointed out that the simple statement makes it worse, not better. When she still can't sleep, when her pain isn't lessened, it puts the blame squarely on her shoulders because she doesn't have enough faith. What an awful message to send someone at the end of her life.

User avatar
alas
Posts: 947
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2016 2:10 pm

Re: Stop telling the sick and dying to have faith, it isn't helping

Post by alas » Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:18 pm

I feel for you. Been there done that. It hurts to see someone you love in so much pain that they just want to die. And I agree with Mopage that telling someone who is suffering to have faith just adds to their burden. It makes it all the sick person’s fault that the blessing doesn’t help.

I have long felt that we should treat our human loved ones the same way we treat our furry loved ones. When their pain is so bad they have nothing in life but pain, we give them a gentle and dignified death. But, no, we humans are “better” than euthanasia, we make our human loved ones suffer to the bitter end.

It still hurts that when my grandmother was dying, all she wanted was to be allowed to go home and die in peace. But once the hospital gets hold of you, they want to do everything humanly possible to prolong a painful death. My mother wanted to take her off the machines, but my aunts and Uncles who just got in from years out of state could not accept that she was really dying. They wanted to do everything possible to keep her alive. My last visit, she looked at me and my husband with hope, and said,” help me sit up.” We did. Then she said, “get my slippers from the closet.” We did that too, and she struggled to put them on. Then she said, “Please, take me home. I want to die at home.” It hurt so much to tell her that we could not take her home, and the doctors would not respect her wishes and put her on hospice at her home. It is cruel sometimes to not let nature take its course.

And in cases like your aunt, it is cruel to worry so much about the dangers of opioids and cannabis that we do not adequately treat their pain.

User avatar
jfro18
Posts: 505
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:41 pm

Re: Stop telling the sick and dying to have faith, it isn't helping

Post by jfro18 » Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:48 pm

I'm so sorry to see this - my mom has been suffering for a few years now after a few really rare medical issues and a while back I came to terms with everything being random and not because of some interventionalist God that is able to just take it all away with blessings or faith.

Thankfully my side of the family is not TBM so we don't have that conversation, but even in the hospital they'd have the chaplains coming around telling people to have faith that things will work out. I can tell you from being in the room when one came in that it doesn't help the patient, and in many cases just angers them because it does put blame on them for trying to make sense of what happened.

TLDR - sorry for your aunt and you guys as well having to bite your tongue around that.

User avatar
IT_Veteran
Posts: 510
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2018 2:36 pm
Location: California

Re: Stop telling the sick and dying to have faith, it isn't helping

Post by IT_Veteran » Mon Dec 03, 2018 2:41 pm

Thank you Alas and Jfro. I know there's not much I can do, but just having all you NOM folks around to commiserate with is helpful.

Gatorbait
Posts: 83
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2017 4:13 pm

Re: Stop telling the sick and dying to have faith, it isn't helping

Post by Gatorbait » Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:31 am

Many of us have gone through this sort of thing, and it is thought provoking for sure.

If peace and comfort come to those who are nearing the edge of their life, it is no one's business if they wish to take the step of assisted suicide. What the Mormon church or any church has to say about it is nonsense. Those who are trapped in the seemingly impenetrable web of thinking that they have to "obey" til the end, well that's the way it is and it probably won't change.

The list of things that people do or say they do that gets them off the hook from really doing something is:
1. Prayer. 'You are in our prayers". This comes from people everywhere, whether they are Mormon or not. No harm here. Not much help either. They don't bother to call, or bring a plate of treats, or write a note, or anything meaningful. Just a "let them off the hook" prayer. (sigh)

2. "We have placed your name on a list" Great. Now a group of people who you don't know and will never ever know, but who have a personal connection with God, and they will pray for you, together with the same things they always pray for, missionaries, and of course- of course- the leaders of the Church. These people who make these lists know that God forgets a lot and he likes to stay current with lists and prayers by people in special clothing in special places where you have to pay ten percent of your earnings to get in. They know this. They have got your back. Worry not at all. Never mind that God hears the same prayers over and over and over again. These people know that God never gets tired of hearing these prayers.

The list of things that people can actually do that will make a difference is endless. Here are a few:
Visit the person and spend time with them. Tell them a story. Read to them. Hold their hand. Listen to them. Fluff their pillow. Kiss them. Rub their feet. Tell them about the family. Discuss fun times together. Be there in person. Write a letter to them. Watch TV with them. The list is endless but meaningful. In the end, the prayer people and the blessing people and the temple people- they are doing nothing. Yet, they think that they are doing something, and the pitiful thing is these people think that they are feathering their celestial nest with feathers straight from God because they prayed, or blessed, or wrote someone's name on a list- and in the end- if the prayer/blessing/temple people to not do the things that make a difference, some of which are listed above, well, they are doing nothing. Nothing at all.
"To be persuasive, we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful." Edward R. Murrow

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests