Non-Christian Spirituality and Loss
A few weeks ago my mother-in-law passed away.
In Western (American) society funerals are conducted a certain way (for the most part.) A portion of that funeral is to have someone who represents your faith speak at your funeral. If you’re Catholic – a priest says some words. If you’re Baptist a preacher says some things. This includes prayer and in some cases song.
I have never been a Christian church-goer. That is, to say, I have never been part of a church. My immediate family has also never been part of a church of any denomination However, when it came time to say the Lord’s Prayer or sing all the verses of Amazing Grace – I knew all the words.
The preacher and other family members would say things like “God bless you.” and I would return the sentiment. My husband was a bit astounded by me shaking the preacher’s hand and saying “God bless you” and giving him an ‘offering’ for speaking at the services.
But honey, you’re Pagan.
Just because I am Pagan doesn’t mean I don’t believe in God. I do believe in God .. and his counterpart Goddess. I can say God bless you to Christians with a clear conscience I am not misleading them. I am not being facetious. I sincerely mean that I hope God – in whatever shape or form they believe in – blesses them.
When I gave an offering to the preacher as a thanks for his time to come and speak at the funeral – I didn’t do it because it is just ‘how it is.’ I did it because he was taking time out of his schedule to come and speak in front of a very wounded and grieving family to bring them peace and comfort. That should not be free. That, my friends, is an energy exchange.
He is using his personal power and energy to bring some comfort to people who are in pain and he should be compensated. Did he do so successfully? He made us all laugh, cry, and reminisce – so yes. He did.
We, as humans, are the ones who put things in boxes. The divine does not. When a Christian speaks about God and a Pagan speaks about God – we are the only ones who think we’re talking about two different beings.
In regards to religion and situations like this – I feel it is important to look from outside the lines we’ve drawn. I can always say “Goddess bless you.” However, I don’t. When speaking with known Christians and when I tell them “I’ll pray for you.” I mean that. I will pray/meditate whatever … it is all the same.
Sometimes when we lose someone we love we forget that life goes on. Sometimes when we lose someone we remember just how petty everything is. And sometimes – when we lose someone very special – we learn to come to terms with things we struggle with because let’s face it … it isn’t a big deal.
Saying you’ll pray for a Christian friend – or saying “God bless you” isn’t a big deal. Lighting a candle and saying a rosary for someone who has passed away – whether you subscribe to it or not – isn’t a big deal. You are just doing what they would have done for you and there is no harm in that.
Whether you believe your loved on will be in the Summerlands, Heaven, or just be a ghost is up to you. I feel anything you believe is true. Anything you subscribe to is YOUR truth. Things you honor are real. Memories are real.
My advice is:
Honor your loved one in whatever way feels right to you. If you are a Baptist and your loved on was Catholic – say a rosary every now and then. If you are Christian and your loved one was Pagan – burn some sage and meditate once in a while.
Nothing you are comfortable with is wrong.