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Expressing Sympathy Without Prayer


icarus
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Hi Everyone,

 

I'm a long time reader, first time poster so bear with me a bit.  I deconverted slowly and rather silently over the past year and a half and I've finally reached a place where I feel truly free my super Christian/Catholic upbringing and slowly working through some of the scars it has left me with.  The only problem with this is, I haven't completely told everyone in my family yet.  

 

My oldest siblings know, my parents kind of know (they think I'm agnostic and I haven't corrected them just yet), but I haven't told anyone else.  Now, my mom has clearly been "asking for prayers" and recently my grandmother has taken up what I call "sniping".  Basically we'll talk for a bit and then at the end she will say something like "I'm praying for you, are you praying for me?",  "Say a Hail Mary for me, you owe me that." etc. Every now and then I get a lecture about how everyone has doubts the important thing is to live as if you have no doubts, put it out of your mind, and eventually they'll go away (a terrifying demand to shut down thought).  She's a fairly aggressive and bitter person and of all my relatives the one that I least want to talk to about the issue.  So far, I try to get away with saying things like "You have my support. My thoughts are with you.  I know you will be able to pull through this, but I'm here if you need anything," etc.

 

She was hospitalized today for a serious kidney infection following a surgery last week.  I've called and left a voicemail sharing my support and sympathy and I am preparing to go out there if need be.  My question is, what do I do if I'm out there and she starts "snipping" at me?  I don't want to make things worse but I won't lie. What do I do if she really is in serious condition or close to death and begs me to "keep close to the faith" or to "never give up God" or even just to "promise to go to Mass"?  I don't want to make her struggles any more difficult, but I also don't want to lie. How should I express god-less support and sympathy?

 

Thanks

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Welcome, icarus!

 

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, you are not in control of how others feel and think. Family manipulation is always problematic enough, and from a sick bed it's even worse; but it's still manipulation.

 

Your responses so far seem to be honest and heartfelt. Just keep that up and don't be bullied. People don't usually agree on everything, and some of those people will always take it personally if you hold a different opinion than they do.

 

Good luck.

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Welcome to ex-C!

 

The method you are using sounds good to me.  You are not obligated to share information.  You have no obligation to talk about anything you don't want to talk about.  Stick to your answer and if the Christians get hostile then excuse yourself and leave.  Be pleasant and polite and you will be the good guy.  A great excuse is "It's personal".  If they press you can go with "It's very personal".  You don't ever have to go beyond that and it doesn't have to be a fight.

 

"I love you Grandmother.  I wish the best for you.  I will see you later."

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I agree with the above. Play the card that you consider your "spirituality" is a deeply personal thing, and you are under no obligation to tell them more than that.  

 

Although if your Gram asks for a prayer, I don't see the harm in humoring her with a prayer. Consider it on the level of humoring a child by talking to the imaginary friend, you don't have to specifically acknowledge the "friend's" existence  In a way that is on that level since Christianity brings adults to a child's level.  Even if they are empty words and don't make a difference it'll probably make her happy and less stressful on everyone. You don't have to say you believe, just play keep playing the "it is personal" card or and stay vague. Of course you don't owe her much more than "its personal."

 

Use your own judgment and I wish you luck

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You made a phone call to show support, and you are prepared to go and visit. That is more action than just saying, "I'm praying for you." We all know that's a polite way of saying, "I'm not going to do anything else, but good luck with that." Your action is more than most Christians would give, so in my opinion, you are already the better person.

 

I always tell people I care about, "Seriously tell me if you need anything. I'm not just saying that. I'll do anything, even if it's weird." That always gets a chuckle, because sometimes people need something weird and don't know who to ask! I once drove a jar of pickles across town, picked up and delivered coffee for a harried friend with a sick child who had a rough night and got up late for work, drove to a friend's house to put down her patio umbrella with a storm coming, picked up a child from preschool one day when her mom got stuck at the hospital with her elderly mother... What if, in all those instances, I had said, "I'm praying for you," and gone about my own business? That is what Christians do = nothing.

 

I assume your grandmother is in the hospital somewhat far from where you are. This is my advice: In the meantime before your visit, send a gift basket (not flowers) with stuff to fill your grandmother's time and delight the people visiting her. Crossword puzzle books, chocolate, little toys, a small potted plant, anything. Do a search for a basket/flower place in your grandmother's town, call and talk to the person and tell them what you have in mind. For a little extra, they will be willing to run down to a local store and buy silly junk to fill your basket, then deliver it to the hospital. I did this for a dear friend, and my basket arrived just when his two kids were getting restless and his wife was torn between him and the kids -- and 10 years later he still occasionally mentions how my little basket saved the day and they were all so delighted. (I don't even really know what was in the basket, I just told the lady $50, go to it, and she did.) And then, if-and-when you do go to visit, you will have something to talk about. She will know that you are a good caring person, despite the lack of religion nonsense. Oh, it will probably still come up, but who can argue about someone who actually DID something to ease pain and boredom, rather than just pray?

 

I'm sorry this has come to a head for you. Family events have a way of popping up to sidetrack our journeys. It's just a bump on your road, and you will maneuver it. Peace to you, sweet Icarus!

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Hi Everyone,

 

I'm a long time reader, first time poster so bear with me a bit.  I deconverted slowly and rather silently over the past year and a half and I've finally reached a place where I feel truly free my super Christian/Catholic upbringing and slowly working through some of the scars it has left me with.  The only problem with this is, I haven't completely told everyone in my family yet.  

 

My oldest siblings know, my parents kind of know (they think I'm agnostic and I haven't corrected them just yet), but I haven't told anyone else.  Now, my mom has clearly been "asking for prayers" and recently my grandmother has taken up what I call "sniping".  Basically we'll talk for a bit and then at the end she will say something like "I'm praying for you, are you praying for me?",  "Say a Hail Mary for me, you owe me that." etc. Every now and then I get a lecture about how everyone has doubts the important thing is to live as if you have no doubts, put it out of your mind, and eventually they'll go away (a terrifying demand to shut down thought).  She's a fairly aggressive and bitter person and of all my relatives the one that I least want to talk to about the issue.  So far, I try to get away with saying things like "You have my support. My thoughts are with you.  I know you will be able to pull through this, but I'm here if you need anything," etc.

 

She was hospitalized today for a serious kidney infection following a surgery last week.  I've called and left a voicemail sharing my support and sympathy and I am preparing to go out there if need be.  My question is, what do I do if I'm out there and she starts "snipping" at me?  I don't want to make things worse but I won't lie. What do I do if she really is in serious condition or close to death and begs me to "keep close to the faith" or to "never give up God" or even just to "promise to go to Mass"?  I don't want to make her struggles any more difficult, but I also don't want to lie. How should I express god-less support and sympathy?

 

Thanks

 

You could be non-committal. "I will consider your words of wisdom about God." This may give her hope. Christians love hope. :-)

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Hi Everyone,

 

I'm a long time reader, first time poster so bear with me a bit.  I deconverted slowly and rather silently over the past year and a half and I've finally reached a place where I feel truly free my super Christian/Catholic upbringing and slowly working through some of the scars it has left me with.  The only problem with this is, I haven't completely told everyone in my family yet.  

 

My oldest siblings know, my parents kind of know (they think I'm agnostic and I haven't corrected them just yet), but I haven't told anyone else.  Now, my mom has clearly been "asking for prayers" and recently my grandmother has taken up what I call "sniping".  Basically we'll talk for a bit and then at the end she will say something like "I'm praying for you, are you praying for me?",  "Say a Hail Mary for me, you owe me that." etc. Every now and then I get a lecture about how everyone has doubts the important thing is to live as if you have no doubts, put it out of your mind, and eventually they'll go away (a terrifying demand to shut down thought).  She's a fairly aggressive and bitter person and of all my relatives the one that I least want to talk to about the issue.  So far, I try to get away with saying things like "You have my support. My thoughts are with you.  I know you will be able to pull through this, but I'm here if you need anything," etc.

 

She was hospitalized today for a serious kidney infection following a surgery last week.  I've called and left a voicemail sharing my support and sympathy and I am preparing to go out there if need be.  My question is, what do I do if I'm out there and she starts "snipping" at me?  I don't want to make things worse but I won't lie. What do I do if she really is in serious condition or close to death and begs me to "keep close to the faith" or to "never give up God" or even just to "promise to go to Mass"?  I don't want to make her struggles any more difficult, but I also don't want to lie. How should I express god-less support and sympathy?

 

Thanks

 

DO not compromise what you feel is right for you for anyone else ever for any reason. Especially not for emotional reasons. Just leave the room if it starts up and come back in a while. Breath and smile a lot but don't answer any questions to any of them.

 

You don't "owe" anyone prays and they don't owe you. That is like expecting a gift in return when you give one. Sort of defeats it as a gift.

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     Just say you had a vision with St.Whoever that told you not to talk about religion anymore with anyone even a priest.

 

          mwc

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Thanks everyone.  I sent a package with some goodies and she was touched by the expression.  I always thought "I'll pray for you" secretly meant "get over it", "I don't wanna talk about it anymore", or "look a convenient way to relive my guilt". It's good to know I'm not the only one. Hopefully side stepping her subtle attacks will work a bit longer.

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