Bench on the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail
Bench on the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail (Miranda Hernandez)

I see a lot of people in the loss community talk about god. They believe he has a plan for us, that things in our lives have happened for a reason. I can’t speak to these things. I don’t think any of us can claim to truly know for certain. I can say that this is not what I believe.

I’ve been a non-believer for most of my life. I don’t think the reasons matter here; they aren’t up for debate. But I wanted to ask a favor, because I’ve always believed in respect–when you meet someone in loss, would you please not assume they believe as you do?

My son is dead. It’s a fact; I accept it. His body lies in ashes, some I wear around my neck. I don’t know where his soul has gone. I don’t know if he lingers. And I’m telling you — that’s okay. I’m comfortable with that ambiguity. Please don’t tell me you know he’s in heaven. Please don’t tell me he’s watching over me.

I am pregnant now. That’s a fact. Just as with my son, it happened via medicine. I’m having a little girl, and I’m excited to meet her. But I don’t believe her brother picked her out for me. I don’t believe he’s watching over her. I only know she exists. And that is beautiful, and that is enough for me.

I am grieving now. I am grieving always. I am holding to my daughter while I ever miss my son. I don’t find any meaning in the pain that still surrounds me. I don’t think that god’s testing me. I don’t see this as his love. Please don’t tell me I will understand eventually. There is no understanding. There is only what is real.

One day, someday, I will die. I don’t know what will happen then, and that’s okay with me. I don’t need confirmation or thoughts of reunification. I don’t want to be told my son waits for me in the afterlife. Please don’t push your beliefs on me. Please don’t tell me what you can’t possibly know. These words feel like empty promises. They feel like convenient lies.

I understand you may feel differently. I know from experience I’m often alone. I’m not asking you to change your beliefs. I’m asking you not to try to change mine.

I’m grieving without god. I’m grieving, and that’s okay. I’m grieving, and I’m holding onto life, and this is what I choose. It’s enough for me.

Related:
Miranda’s Story: Spiritual Feelings
Miranda’s Blog: Quora: Perspective of a Non-Believer Following the Death of a Child
Write Your Grief: Akhilandeshvari