Healing After Loss Without A God
I was raised very Catholic but fell away from the church at sixteen. I came back when I was nineteen but really struggled with the beliefs I had been taught and the life I was living. At twenty-one, I began looking at other religions and practices and fell in love with Buddhism. From then on I was in an undefined place but really felt as though I could identify myself as Buddhist. Even though I still believed that maybe there was a God out there. Then at twenty-two was when I lost my child in miscarriage.
I had prayed for the first time in a long time through all eleven weeks of my pregnancy. When I lost Talia I stopped believing in God. It wasn’t a huge, angry moment. It was more of a simple acceptance that if something like this can happen then obviously there is no God. Most of the people in my life do believe in God and many, including my husband, are Catholic. I heard a myriad of hurtful things such as that my loss happened for a reason or that it was God’s plan. I even had someone tell me I lost my baby so I would come back to the church.
Related: Grieving without God
My husband is still Catholic and I really struggle with what the church believes happens to unborn children. The Catholic faith believes that any children who are not baptized go to a place called “Limbo”. It is a happy place but one without God and one that unbaptized persons will never enter. This means that when I die, according to the church, I will not even have the hope of meeting Talia in Heaven. My husband says he does not think God is that cruel, but due to my strict Catholic upbringing, it is difficult for me to disassociate certain teachings with what I want to believe.
Those first few months after my miscarriage I just dove into what I knew. Even in the midst of miscarrying at home, I was painting and writing. I ended up writing a whole poetry collection about the experience and that was incredibly therapeutic. Instead of praying when I felt lost or heartbroken, I wrote. And when words were not enough I painted.
Buddhism did not help me as much during this time because the idea of letting go of that experience didn’t resonate with me. So much of Buddhism is about impermanence and letting go and I love that but somewhere in my grief, it felt wrong. Thus I improvised my own belief about where my daughter was.
I felt that she had returned to nature. That she was and is all around me. I feel her most in sunsets and thunderstorms. And it helped me cope because when I missed her terribly and wondered who she would have been I could just go for a walk and I would feel peaceful. I don’t think we will necessarily meet in the afterlife because I don’t know what I believe about that, but I know she is here in this life in a different way. And that thought heals me every time I think it.
Photo by: Annie Spratt