Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Sadness, Anger, and Sympathy



A friend of mine posted this a bit ago. She frequently posts these types of messages and prayers. They fill me all at once with sadness, anger, and immense amount of sympathy.

Let me give you a bit of back story.

She and her husband are in their early fifties. They were young, vibrant, active, and adventurous.

Her husband had always been a tall, strong, imposing figure. Yet he was really just a giant teddy bear of a man, always at the ready with a hug and joke.

In the blink of an eye that changed for them.

He was riding solo on his Harley Davidson when someone turned across traffic in front of him. Unable to stop he slid underneath the vehicle. After days of touch and go, not knowing if he would live or die, he pulled through.

She was awash with relief and sang the praises of her God.

Then the devastating news came that the brain damage would be permanent and also the paralysis.

That has been some four years ago now. The longer it goes the more desperate she becomes. She loves her husband and takes very good care of him but it is now more of a mother/child relationship. She has amply displayed her commitment. Yet she longs for that husband/wife relationship that she once had. She would never verbalize this but she can’t even move on. It isn’t even as she would want to if she could, but she can’t have her husband back either. Neverland.

And while all of that fills me with a great sadness it also fills me with sadness that in order for her to come to terms with her situation she must do these mental gymnastics.

She prays to the God she believes caused her situation to thank him for it. Thanking him for causing her circumstances in order to bring about her dependence on this invisible entity that cannot give her an embrace, cannot kiss her lips, cannot hold her hand – this invisible entity that cannot carry on regular conversation but is only voices in her head.

Yes, it is indeed sad.

It makes me so angry to watch as she struggles day after day with his pain management. She has long given up praying for healing. She believes her God’s answer is, “no,” that her husband must suffer and she along with him for some greater purpose. And that purpose is a desperate need for dependence on the very being that caused the pain in the first place. She will sing his praises and glorify him for breaking her down.

On Earth we call that abuse.

It’s like watching a parent beat their child until everything in them is broken and watching that child beg the parent to do it all over again. Stockholm syndrome doesn’t even begin to describe it.

The anger that wells up inside of me is visceral.

And at the same time I’m filled with so much sympathy and so much understanding of why she needs this to be so. It might all be too much to bear if it doesn’t serve some purpose. She needs to believe that all of this has some meaning or else she might just throw in the towel. It would likely break her mind to believe otherwise.

This is why religion persists, why it will likely always persist. And who could be so cruel as to even attempt to take the one thing that is holding it all together for her away?

25 thoughts on “Sadness, Anger, and Sympathy

  1. Jeez Ruth

    Honestly can’t understand it.

    Total crock of shit. Seriously.


    • Having never been a believer I can understand your response.

      On this side of believing, I concur that it’s a total crock. But having lived on the other side of it I can also understand her mental gymnastics. It’s horrible but it’s the only thing that makes sense to her.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In my list of FB friends there is a young woman, whose husband struggles with drug addiction. They both profess faith and she has managed to kick the habbit she once had. She often posts similar stuff and I go through the same though you have presented here Ruth. Her life stinks at times and she doesn’t deserve that. Yet she will thank god for it in all circumstances. You can see she is hurting when she makes those posts but her Christian friends just think she’s a strong woman of faith. She may be that too, but they praise her posts and seem to be blind to the hurting person behind them.


    • Oh, yes, she gets all the, “Amen!!Eleventy” comments and quite a bit of the, “Praying for you,” kind of thing. She frequently gets comments from people telling her how strong she is. And to be honest she is definitely that. It takes a strong person to be able to take that load. She was a hairdresser before with her own salon and she’s had to give all of that up to take care of her husband.

      But what I see when I read those posts is how lonely, exhausted, and hurt she is. It’s hard to watch her go through it, especially all the while praising the supposed inflictor of her pain and then to resign herself to, “everything happens for a reason.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ruth, would your friend be open to have assistance in caring for her husband, such as personal care aides coming into the home to provide her with some support and respite? Would he be eligible for an assisted living facility where your friend could also spend as much time with him as she wanted?

        Also, although, I’m a committed Christian believer, I really have problems with this notion that God intentionally causes these tragedies in our lives to make us desperate so we will rely on Him, and to teach us “lessons.” I have been through a serious accident that could have taken my life. I had a young adult son diagnosed with cancer, and another step son who had been diagnosed with a life threatening brain infection.

        I will say that my faith certainly provided a source of strength and peace in going through these circumstances for sure. The love of God is there in the middle of our lives no matter what.

        But, this is far from saying that all tragedy is intentionally orchestrated by God for an unknown purpose.

        I have heard of testimonies where people actually think that God has taken their baby “home to Heaven” to teach them a lesson or because of some secret sin. This just sounds monstrous to me in general. I’m not able to understand it, and find it very sad.


  3. Being a former believer myself Ruth, I get where she is coming from. However…….to believe in a deity who can both heal and allow pain and suffering is a torture no one should go through.

    “And who could be so cruel as to even attempt to take the one thing that is holding it all together for her away?”

    I’m not sure where the upside is for her to continue to believe. Maybe I’ve been a de-convert too long. Can you help me here ?


    • I’m not sure I’d call it an up side. I’m just not sure she’d be mentally or emotionally prepared to disbelieve either.

      When you’re holding on by a thread you certainly don’t want anyone pulling at it. It’ll all unravel.

      I can remember believing that if I just believed more or better that things would turn out alright. Once I realized I didn’t need the thread it was a huge relief. I’m not sure she’s ready to let go of the thread or have it all come undone.

      Liked by 5 people

      • I think at this point, her god is all she has. It’s a very sad situation. Not only because of what she must physically go through each day, but what she must endure mentally as well. For her, relying on something greater than herself gets her through her day. Like you, I think letting go of the thread would most likely be devastating because what then could she turn to? Regrettably, people are often a poor substitute for one’s faith.

        Liked by 4 people

        • Interesting post, Ruth…I know it’s an old thread but I still wanted to weigh in.

          I was in a situation that somewhat paralleled what this woman went through. In my case, I did let go of the thread and lose my faith in god, and then had a mental breakdown of epic proportions. It took me two years to recover some semblance of sanity.

          Three years later I can say I’m better off…but that reward didn’t come for a long time and my pain was immense (I’d say I’m lucky to have survived it). I don’t think I’d ever encourage someone else to let go of god in a crisis situation, as it probably IS the only thing holding her together. That said, it’d definitely be hard to watch her mental gymnastics. 😦


      • My heart goes out to this situation. Devastating is the word, thank you Nan!
        “To let go of the thread”. Why is that so easy for some people, and impossible for others to achieve? Of course, one must wish to do that in the first place I even think it is the only condition – absent in this case. What would be sadder for this lady, being unable to communicate with her husband, or wisely accepting the fact that he has gone forever?
        A friend of mine once wrote this pertinent aphorism:
        “The void you have left, is greater than the space you occupied”.

        Liked by 2 people

        • It really is such a terrible situation. He isn’t in a coma, but he can’t carry on an adult conversation. I’d say it’s akin to being perpetually a three-year-old. I think if he were in a vegetative state she might find it in her to move on, but as he’s aware it’s next to impossible for her. My heart breaks for her whole situation.


  4. First and foremost I too am saddened by their circumstances and sympathize, especially now for HER suffering caused by his choices. 😦

    I’m much more pragmatic about their/that situation and dynamics of their/her belief-system and I would’ve done things completely different from the very beginning: dating and marriage vows. Then motorcycle safety (high-risk!) on unsafe public streets. But it isn’t my place to intervene or comment further about it. We all have our own ways and methods of coping, coping with our choices as well as other’s choices in life. How a “quality life” is defined and should be sustained (or not) is different for everyone and timing and time-elasped has a LOT to do with it.

    I wish them both well, but more so for her. Ruth, would you be able to offer her/him/them any better life-paths or would it be way too alien to her?

    Liked by 1 person

    • To be fair, they both rode quite a bit. She just happened not to be riding that day with him and he wasn’t at fault for the accident. He was going through a green light and a guy turned left right in front of him.

      Hers is obviously a coping mechanism, but I think it’s more than that, too. They were both very active in their church where he was a youth pastor up until the accident. I think if she ever even considered anything other than ’til death do us part and in sickness and in health she’d never forgiver herself. I’d happily offer her some other options if I thought she was open to them, but I don’t think she would be.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Strictly speaking on the relative safety of motorcycling on our risky crowded streets & highways, it wasn’t his safeness I was curious about. It’s the mere stats of unsafe drivers out there, in/on any vehicle. For protection against other poor, crazy, or unsafe operators, motorcycles are not much different than bicycles on streets/highways. That was and will always be my unwavering concern. I have several first cousins who ride all the time all over the nation to rallies, events, etc, and all of them are smart safe motorcyclists. BUT… every single one of them have been in not-at-fault wrecks caused by other bad, unsafe drivers — one of my cousins was in the hospital for 6-weeks! The fact that the insurance rates for motorcyclists are so high SHOULD be an indicator to anyone that it isn’t necessarily how safe YOU are… it is how increasingly unsafe other drivers are on our crowded streets & highways. Hence, that is a well-known safety risk that riders choose to take despite the ever increasing stats, costs, risks, and warnings. :/

        I do realize that everything I’m saying — in their case — is now too late and irrelevant for him. But why make her suffer?

        On the “other” life-paths, I thought it would indeed be too alien for her to even remotely consider. Sad for them; very sad. And I’m SURE others like family, friends, and church members are also having to help out…

        because of his/her choices of unnecessary uncontrollable risks. 😦


  5. It seems as though her faith is all she has. Being without it would probably kill her. I guess she is happy in her misery, but it does seem to be an abusive relationship with her god.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The human mind has become (in this instance, sadly) expert at deploying paliative measures over the last 6,600 generations.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Hi, Ruth. Your friend has been given, by the nature of our present world, a tragedy to live through. However, I think she is not as bereft of support as you think. She most likely has the Holy Spirit living within her, Christ beside her and her Heavenly Father providing her with His love. In addition she can hope for a future where she and her husband can sing with choirs of angels and have bodies not subject to injury, pain, death, or decay. On the other hand, you can only hope that you cease to exist–body, mind and spirit–when your life here ends. Perhaps you are more to be pitied than your friend. Love, waltsamp


    • Perhaps you are more to be pitied than your friend. — Only by people like you who believe in an invisible entity that supposedly has the power to heal and make whole those who suffer but who doesn’t/won’t/can’t … as is illustrated by this very sad situation.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Your last sentence in this post reminds me… On an episode of the podcast “The Thinking Atheist”, on the topic of grieving as a non-theist (IIRC), a caller said, “Your tragedy is not my soap box.”

    I think it’s good to discuss with others what we do or don’t believe and why, and hopefully we collectively get closer to truth, but I agree that attempting to use someone’s personal hardships and losses as a lever toward that end is cruel.


  9. Wow! Excellent! I have grappled with this very thing since leaving the church. It’s difficult to watch. There are times when I want to say, if you could just come to terms with the fact that there is no God, to pray to, no God to lean on, no God to
    teach you the hard lessons, you would be truly free from the mental gymnastics that are so tormenting, but then compassion kicks in and I realize this is how they cope. Sometimes I wish I still had that, but once you see reality, there’s really no going back. Thank you for the post 💗

    Liked by 2 people

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