Hello, This is my first post and my first visit to this forum. I was raised Pentecostal. My parents were "saved" when I was about 4 and took it all very seriously, it became our entire lives. It was the full speaking in tongues-holy roller, fire and brimstone church. Women were expected to wear the uniform of dresses, uncut hair and modesty. When I was 5 I asked to be baptized, much to the joy of my parents and the members of the church. In all honesty I was absolutely terrified of hell (what do five year olds know of sin) and it lead me to years of pursuing the magic key to heaven, speaking in tongues. I never got the "gift" but I faked it, which resulted in terrifying nightmares. My parents left when I was a teenager and we church shopped. I was elated that we were done with that but I had layers and layers of repression and fear. So as a teenager I rebelled, and I rebelled as hard as I could. I was quite certain that I was not a christian by the time I was 17 and began to explore nature based religions. That suited me perfectly. My parents in the last 10 or so years have returned to the church of my childhood.
I tried as much as I could to avoid the topic with my parents. As I am sure many of you can relate, it was a wound between us that was deeper and more painful than I could ever really manage. I just wanted to be accepted and my parents just wanted to assure my eternal salvation. Almost thirty years have passed since I have considered myself to be a christian. It has been a a wonderful path, full of self discovery and, for the most part, the joy of freedom. I am comfortable and confident with my spirituality. I dont fear hell or the disapproval of God anymore, there has just been one pain that endures and that is the disapproval of my parents and the pain in their eyes when any topic comes close to my/their religious beliefs. About a year ago I "came out" to my mother about my beliefs, her beliefs, and the gap between the two. It was very painful and I wondered for the last year why I felt so compelled to do it.This long winded ramble of mine really has much to do with what I wanted to ask. How have people handled the death of a parent who remains devout?
In October my mother unexpectedly fell into a coma during a simple out patient surgery. She was brain dead and she did not survive. The absolute devastation of the loss of my mother was further complicated by their religion. Her church (the church of my childhood) really pulled together to support my father and help out. They are very nice people and they love my parents, but that heaviness of the religion I left behind was in the air. Her funeral was at the church. I had not been in that building in a very long time it definitely opened wounds that I thought had long healed. The memory of sadness in my mothers eyes because of her belief that we would be separated forever, knowing that thousands of prayers were spoken alone and in this church aloud for my soul have added a complication to my grief that has been very confusing. To add even more sting, my father gave me a letter that he found, written 6 years ago by my mother to me. I simply could not read it, I knew what it was. I had my husband read it for me and he confirmed that the letter was exactly what I thought it was, a plea for my return to Jesus. My mother died with the certainty of her beliefs that do not include an eternity with me.
I wonder how any of you have managed the death of a parent who remains a born again/evangelical christian? Does anyone have any advice on navigating these intense emotions?