On Death (And Life)

CC image courtesy of Flickr, Catarina Oberlander. Image links to source.

CC image courtesy of Flickr, Catarina Oberlander. Image links to source.

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Kierstyn King’s blog Bridging the Gap.  It was originally published on November 28, 2014.

Cynthia Jeub touched on this in the first part of her post “Freeing Self-Deceived Fundamentalists“. My family has glorified death for a really long time. I remember Columbine, like she was talking about – being something almost revered – not remotely tragic. When things were shitty(-er than normal) or if I was making a life choice my mom didn’t agree with she would say “well the end times are coming and we’ll be raptured soon [so we won’t have deal with XYZ]”. Going to heaven was all my parents really cared about, they instilled a sense of life being almost useless into me, unintentionally.

Why bother living here when life will be so much better after you die?

When parents neglect or kill their children because they think god told them to or that they’re saving them.

When parents talk about how brave Abraham was for almost murdering Isaac.

When I remember that my parents coped with my two still-born siblings by talking about how lucky they were that they got to be in heaven while we had to suffer on earth…

I used to be afraid, or worried sometimes……..that something like that would happen. That “god” would tell my parents to murder us, and they would. Or that I would be murdered (martyred) because I was a (true) christian in America, and I would look down that gun barrel at Columbine and say “Jesus will save me” or “Get behind me satan” or whatever clever bible phrase I could come up with before my imminent death.

And my parents wouldn’t mourn – they’d talk about how much better off I was dead than alive, how everyone needs to be a christian so they can wait out their miserable existence and go to paradise.

It’s really depressing thinking about it. But it explains a lot about why, I guess, I’ve rarely been afraid of dying and have always just been kinda nonchalant about it.

It’s not a good thing, because it adds intensity to depression: why bother living, anyway? Now that I don’t believe in god and don’t believe that suicide would nullify my non-existent salvation.

But when I was a child…

The emphasis my parents put on dying and going to heaven always bothered me.

It was like they were so ready for our lives to be over.

They didn’t want to live.

They communicated that living was a waste of time. After all, we’re citizens of heaven, not earth, so why care about the world?

And that always fucked with me because I wanted to live, and I felt guilty for wanting to live, fully, and make the most of my time and help people while I was here, and even, (gaspenjoy my life here. Because some part of me understood that being here mattered, even though I didn’t – and sometimes still don’t – know why.

I was so hurt when my mom would rather I die/be raptured than marry my spouse. She said, hopefully, that Jesus would probably come back before I even had that chance.

I can’t explain to you with words how much that messes with a person. When your parents whole life revolves around the end of their, yours, and everyone else’s life………when rapture is the answer to things that you don’t like…and pretend like everyone who wants to live and love now is silly because obviously they should just be working on getting into heaven.

Everything my parents do is motivated by being the best christians so they get all the heavenly kudos.

I think my parents were really really depressed.

And I think that messed with me in a lot of ways, too.

7 comments

  • Thank you for sharing. Your line, “I felt guilty for wanting to live” is very relatable. I felt that countless times growing up and could never figure out what was “wrong” with me and why I wasn’t a better christian.

  • I continue to be amazed at how narcissistic baby boomer and Gen-X parents can be. I used to wonder about… why the focus on death/rapture? It’s because it eliminated any need for genuine self improvement. You didn’t need to be a better person if you were going to die soon.

    You didn’t need to change. You didn’t need to experience scary things in life. You could just live out your own stunted script for life, with (narcissist) you as the main character in your own life movie.

    Fundamentalism is, at its heart, a defense against needed life change.

    What terrifies me is that my parents and many adults I knew were VERY drawn to precisely that lifestyle. Like so many Catholic priests. It’s creepy as hell.

    • I think what you said about neglecting any self improvement is spot on. My mother-in-law and I recently had a very emotionally charged conversation, in which she told me that she has strong suicidal urges. I pleaded with her to speak to a mental health professional, and she said no, that she’d rather just wait to die of natural causes instead. It’s so sad that she chooses to live this way, and so harmful for everyone who loves her.

      She used to frequently make remarks about being “dead soon”. My husband told her to knock it off around us, but I suspect she still does when we’re not around, and her husband and two teenage sons have to hear it.

  • “Some part of me understood that being here mattered, even though I didn’t – and sometimes still don’t – know why.”

    This is profound.

    And, sadly, relatable. I think my mother has stopped living in some ways too.

    May I never make that choice.

  • I have often thought that religion (aka superstition) makes people crazy. These posts confirm it.

  • I can relate so much. I didn’t even realize this obsession was weird until I was in my 20s. 99% of the songs in church were about “just pleeeeeaaassseee taaaaaake me now JEEEESUUUS”. If you believe that a benevolent creator loved humans so much that he created them and made a beautiful planet just for them, then isn’t that kind of throwing his gift back in his face if you just want to be killed and leave already? The way I was taught, death always seemed so much preferable to life. So messed up to be teaching kids that.

  • I grew up like this. I still live with my parents and it bothers me how casually they talk about how much better death is, partly because I know if I had ever totally bought in, I would’ve been in serious danger of suicide. I was suicidal enough already; I didn’t need that shit.

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