The following is a collection of contributions from members of the Ex-Christian Science collective about how death is ‘handled’ in Christian Science.
When people do start to get desperate and want to turn outside of Christian Science, they generally have no idea of what help is available to them so they never ask for it, or they pretend they are just feeling a bit under the weather when they are actually on their death bed.
The Christian Scientists I grew up around strongly believed and promoted the idea of it being possible for Christian Science prayer to raise the dead, and that it would become possible in proportion to our understanding of Christian Science and our spiritual perfection.
My grandmother died when I was fourteen. I remember my mother telling me it ‘never happened.’ She was equally glassy when her sister died of cancer a few years ago.
The mental discipline that Christian Scientists use to deny this world also denies, as Eddy referred to it, ‘mere human affection.’ Trained to deny their affection, and that discipline is so powerful, that I have known those who appeared to be perfectly fine with the deaths of their spouses.
I attended a Christian Science funeral held at a crematorium, where I sat behind a couple of ladies who were observing the widow, seated in the front row. One whispered to her companion, in a disapproving tone, “Oh, look at [the widow]. She’s crying!” That was another lesson in Christian Science for me, another one that battled my instincts.
My Christian Science upbringing made me unable to talk about death in any way. When my grandmother died, I was told to look at a vase of flowers and remember the ‘good and true’ thoughts about her. It’s taken me nearly fifty years to even find out where she was buried.
We had a ‘celebration of life’ for my mother after she died. Most of the members of my parents’ small branch church were there; in fact, most of the people there were Christian Scientists. Only one person cried. She was the non-Christian Scientist pianist who played at the church services, and had become very close with my mother over the years. I wanted to cry too, but years of conditioning not to acknowledge the supposed ‘reality’ of death kept me from crying. Later the same year, when my father died, I was admonished by a Christian Scientist friend of the family not to “see his death as a failure of Christian Science.” It was almost as if he could see the wheels of reason beginning to turn in my head that would ultimately lead to my departure from Christian Science.