On Love, Grief and the Self Unshared

Freethought Blogger Aoife O’Riordan of Consider the Tea Cosy has written an insightful piece about the intersection of her grief at her grandmother’s death and her grief for the barriers to sharing her true self that her grandmother’s religious belief placed between them. Here is an excerpt from “When My Nan Died: Religon, Closets and Love“:

And here’s where it’s difficult, because my nan drew so much strength from her religion. She loved her faith and gave it the same belief and love that she did to everyone she was close to. Growing up, I believed with her, and the god she followed felt like that love- one that would comfort you, support you, believe in you too. And at the end of her life, the joy she drew from knowing that her reward was near… well, it was very real. And if I believed for a second in it I would tell you that she deserved every joy that it could give her. I don’t believe in it for a second and I will still tell you that she deserved every joy she could have.

And yet.. as I appreciate that this was a faith that she loved, there’s anger too. Not at my nan. At the faith that she gave so much of herself to, which I know betrayed that trust so many times. At the tenets of that faith which meant I would never have told her about something as wonderful as how I love. At the rigidity of a church which teaches that belief and submission, not living a good life, are what’s required to earn the rewards it promises. The twisted morality of an organisation that takes smart, capable, loving people, takes their feelings of connection and love that they have and that they draw so much strength from, and uses all of those gorgeous, essential things for nothing but its own power.

She loved that church, and I hate- truly hate- how it kept me further from her in ways she never knew. That there’s a silence that feels so close to shame that I’ll never, ever get a chance to heal.

If you are interested in reading more about O’Riordan’s experience of secular grief, she has also written the following blog entries on the topic:

Anniversary rekindling

On Death, and Life, and a Quite Marvellous Day

Death, Atheism and Middle of the Night Belief: Being Kind to Ourselves

“I’ll Pray for You”

Going to Your (Catholic) Funeral

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