Wedding Woes

You're doing just fine.

Dear Prudence,

We lost my father to a long illness very recently. My family and I are taking it day by day and handling things well enough all considered. I am not a religious person, but my mother has leaned more into her Catholic faith for support as she works through her grief. Sometimes this takes the shape of letting me know that she knows he is in a much more wonderful place and happier than we could imagine, if I express sadness that he’s not with us all having dinner or that he would have loved to join in on something.

I don’t have a problem with her believing this, but I never know quite what to say or do when she talks like this. I have been getting away with nodding and bland agreements, but I worry that she’ll call me out or want to discuss it further (I imagine it must be pretty clear that I’m agreeing just to agree). I’m happy that my mother is happy in her faith and don’t want to get into a theological debate with her ever, and most especially not now when she needs it most. How would you navigate this?

—Please Pass the Potatoes

Re: You're doing just fine.

  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I've got nothing, but I really feel LW's pain. I am not religious at all, but a lot of my family is. When they try to comfort you with the religious stuff that you don't buy into, it's just painful and awkward. 
  • I've got nothing, but I really feel LW's pain. I am not religious at all, but a lot of my family is. When they try to comfort you with the religious stuff that you don't buy into, it's just painful and awkward. 
    Yes. FIL has times when he goes on these religious 'kicks' or tangents and wants to talk about it...a lot.  DH and I are both just like, "Uh huh. OK.  Yeah." and then we try really hard to redirect the conversation.   
    MyNameIsNotMesmrEweshort+sassy
  • edited November 2019
    I feel for LW, b/c I think she might not want to redirect the question, she wants to be able to share this with her mother.  LW is going to have to put their energy to either accepting that this is what mom believes and how to work with it, or not discussing this with mom, b/c mom gets to have her grief too.

    I probably would stop bringing it up and find someone else, or a support group (Grief Beyond Belief is a fantastic grief resource for the humanist, secularist, atheist in your life) that I could work through my grief with instead of my mother.

    ~Varuna
    mrsconn23
  • I have actually been in this spot and ended up speaking to my grief counsellor because I kept getting irritated.
    My nana {my dad's mother} would say things like this and I just got mad like why do you need to say this?
    My counsellor that it's one of those things to just brush off because people cope or need to think certain ways when they lose a loved one.

    It made things a lot easier to understand and in time she slowed on the comments.
    MesmrEweshort+sassy
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  • Just keep doing what you’re doing. She’s happy leaning into her faith and it doesn’t seem as if she is pressuring you to do anything different so u less that changes I’d stay the course. 

    If she does push it further I’d say something along the lines of “I’m really happy you’ve found comfort in your faith. I like to think Dad would be happy.” 
    short+sassyILoveBeachMusic
  • Just keep doing what you’re doing. She’s happy leaning into her faith and it doesn’t seem as if she is pressuring you to do anything different so u less that changes I’d stay the course. 

    If she does push it further I’d say something along the lines of “I’m really happy you’ve found comfort in your faith. I like to think Dad would be happy.” 
    I agree the LW needs to keep doing what she is doing.  I actually find this letter a little odd because, although she says she is fine with her mother's belief, it's almost like she is "itching" to say something.

    She's "anticipating" her mother wanting a theological discussion.  Except the mother has done nothing to give her that impression and is NOT pushing her beliefs on the LW.  She is picturing her H happy in heaven.  This is how the mother is dealing with her grief. And the LW needs to be just as respectful to not poke holes in that.

    With that said, if the mother ever wants to discuss this point further/asks the LW, then the LW should be as kind as possible, but honest.  Like, "Well, you know me, Mom.  I'm sorry, but I don't believe in any kind of after life.  But Dad made a positive mark on the world and he lives forever in our hearts."
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