I felt I had no right to mourn because my father had just ‘passed away’

By an anonymous Ex-Christian Scientist Group Contributor.

 

A year ago I started an Master in Fine Arts program in creative writing. I’d left Christian Science officially two years before. My first workshopped article was a piece I had written on all the wonderful strangers who had helped me with car trouble. The piece was meant to be inspirational and uplifting. It had a very happy ending. I did mention in the piece that my father had died and I felt lost when it came to taking care of my car because he had been a mechanic and always looked out for me in this way. I was twenty-five when he died a grisly death of untreated colon cancer under Christian Science care.

When I was having my piece workshopped the teacher asked me why I felt it was necessary to have a happy ending. He told me I was completely wrapped up in magical thinking and that I needed to dig deeper in order to have a story and not a string of anecdotes. Essentially he told me my whole life was an anecdote and not a story. I was shattered. I told him there was no point in not having a happy ending. Who would want to hear or read about things that aren’t resolved in a harmonious way?

Then he told me that although the appearance of my story was happy, it was clear to him that underneath I was suffering greatly from unresolved grief due to my father’s death. My father’s death was three decades past, which added to my shock about this teacher’s statement. It was a very uncomfortable discussion for me because I had shut Dad off after he died, always believing I had no right to mourn because my father had just ‘passed away’ and nothing had really happened to him, according to my religion. I have since written a chapter about my fathers death, and the writing was therapy for me. The guy was correct; I was—perhaps still am—a mess.

I left the session in internal chaos, realizing I had nothing to write about because I had always been taught by Christian Science that my life should be treated like a testimony at church, with the final words being: “I am so grateful for Christian Science.” Over the next few days I realized I needed to look completely differently at my past, to revisit these experiences I had shut away and put aside with Christian Science. The whole conversation was a revelation. Now I see that everything about Christian Science is anecdotal, and there is a big difference between anecdotes and stories.

My thesis has ended up being about my journey away from Christian Science, and through writing it I am discovering truths about myself, my upbringing, and the difference between what I think now and how I thought when I was a gung-ho Christian Scientist.

I don’t believe I knew just what I thought about all that until I wrote it down. Writing is therapy. It really helps

One comment

  • jenn

    Been out if CS for a long time, but still learning to let myself mourn and to let others mourn. To see it as healthy and loving, not indulgent.

    When I attended prin, I remember being told by one of the faculty to not cry or feel sad when I learned that a fellow student had passed. He told us we needed to keep praying for them and help them overcome the idea of death even after they died and “moved to another plane of existence”. That I was letting them down by being sad. That my grief could hurt them. Its such a twisted thought process. It makes grief over loss into a selfish indulgent act.