The View On Religion, From The After- Part One.

by Lori Dwyer on August 28, 2011 · 19 comments

I’ve had quite a few people ask me how I feel about religion, now, in the After. I wrote about it in the Before.

I’ll publish the where-I’m-at-with-God bit in the next post. I just thought we needed some background first.

In the Before, I believed in… Something.

In the immediate After… I was willing to believe in anything.

one of the first things I did, the morning After, while Tony was unconscious in the ICU, was to visit our local catholic church, to arrange for a priest to come and perform Last Rites. Why…? Well, Tony was Catholic. Not practicing Catholic, but Catholic enough that our son was baptised. And I remembered, when Tony’s nan was in her last hours, he held her hand and recited the Lord’s Prayer, over and over, to bring her comfort.

I think I wanted to bring the same comfort to him.

The priest attended the hospital, only after checking that it was ‘OK’- I was not Catholic, and while our son was baptised at this church, we weren’t technically part of the parish.

That stung, and still does.. that we had to meet some official requirement,s for prayer to be given.

Despite me asking him to, the priest didn’t wait for me to perform Last Rites. Tony’s mum, and a friend of ours, where there, both baptised Catholics…. I guess that was enough.

That stings too.

I visited the hospital chapel every day while Tony was in the ICU. I have myself to God, to Jesus, to whoever. I cried and sobbed and bargained and prayed and pleaded for my husband’s life.

And, failing that… I prayed for strength, the strength to do this, the strength to walk away, if that was what I had to do.

I guess my prayers were answered, to a point. I had the strength to walk away. But I’m too angry with a higher power to give them credit for that. That was all me.

In contrast to the Catholic priest, the pastor from the church where my children and I attended play group could not have been more comforting. He spoke to me on the phone every day while Tony was in hospital. The last night of Tony’s life, he came and sat with me. Prayed with me, prayed with Tony. He was compassion and love personified when I needed it most and the feeling of that comfort, that soft but strength that emanated from him… I don’t think that will ever leave me.

In the days that followed my husband’s death, the faith I had felt in the hospital flickered and dehydrated and died. The idea of attending church lingered for a while, right until we moved to Paradise, but more for the purpose of teaching my children about the concept of Heaven, of giving them a framework to understand where there father is now.

That idea, along with any lingering scraps of faith, has been washed away by now.

And that’s that. More in the next post….

Every day, while my husband was in hospital, I visit the chapel.
The last time is just half an hour before my final meeting with the ICU doctors, the meeting where I will find out my husband’s fate… I already know what it will be.
He will become an organ donor.
Security walks me to the chapel, then stops at the door. I can voices from inside, ten or more, singing or softly chanting in unison.
“Better wait till they’re done” says the guard, and leaves me alone in the hall.
I wait, as long as I can. Maybe two minutes, maybe three. Time is ticking away, and I have to see the doctors soon, and if praying is doing anything then I need to do it now.
Hesitantly, I knock. An older lady, calm in her eyes, she opens the door.
I can barely speak through my tears. I explain, my husband, he is in the ICU, I have my final meeting with doctors soon… I need to pray.
Without a word I am swept into a room of people, most of them elderly, all of them holding rosary beads. They sit me on a lounge, pass me tissues, one woman puts her arms around me while I sob, uncontrolled and uncaring, into her chest.
And they pray. Together, in unison, in English then in Latin. I have no idea what they are saying,but the rising swell of words and tone and faith…. it comforts me. I close my eyes, allow salty hot tears to run from my swollen eyes, feel the exhaustion of the last few days seep in to me, run through me, just for a moment, before I get up and have to face it all again.
I’ve never been in a place of such devout faith, such selfless prayer and love as I was, that day. The power of humanity, or the power of a Higher being… whichever it was, it was divine.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa August 30, 2011 at 12:05 pm

I don't know how I've never read this before, Lori. That part at the end, in the capel, had me sobbing. It's beautiful and raw and I'm so, so incredibly grateful for those people looking after you.


Annabellz August 30, 2011 at 6:38 am

Very difficult when men of the "cloth" act in that way. stinks in fact. Wrong.

Glad you found something deeper and people were there for you. So personal and meaningful.

Thank you for your willingness to share.


Trisha August 30, 2011 at 5:01 am


As always you write so beautifully.
Your final comment that "I've never been in a place of such devout faith, such selfless prayer and love as I was, that day. The power of humanity, or the power of a Higher being… whichever it was, it was divine."

I think that is so true. I don't know if you are much of a reader but at the end of Philip Pullman's trilogy "The Dark Materials" he makes the argument that people being kind and compassionate to each other is as close to divinity as it is possible to get. I am pleased that the universe or a power out there lead you into a situation where you could experience love and comfort.

I'm sorry that the priest behaved in such an uncompassionate manner to you.

Take care of yourself.


Sophie August 29, 2011 at 10:51 pm

A beautiful post. There is a lot about faith that is not comforting and some things that are. Take what you need, what helps, disregard what doesn't.

I found my view of everything shifted after my loss. Some things stayed the same, other things got the flick… like the concept that everything happens for a reason… I mean who writes that shit? Not everything happens for a reason. Some shit just is.



Wendy August 29, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Silly me posted on your "before" post, not this one.. so let me paste from there: "Lori, I am so glad that when things were darkest for you that there were people who shared God's love with you and that it touched you. Praying you will encounter many more people and experience much love on your journey."


Melissa August 29, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Wow – once again a beautiful, heartbreaking post. I'm so happy you're writing about this. I have so many questions about faith after loss and I'm clinging to your words.


Anonymous August 29, 2011 at 5:32 pm

You made me cry! Your writing is great and as Hemingway said – (you) write hard and clear about what hurts. The image of the prayer group in the church at the end of your post – cried.

Will you write a book soon?

Ann Anon


marketingtomilk August 29, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Both beautiful posts.
I think the belief in "something" waivers and flickers, it is never lost. Well for some it is, but for me it is changeable.



•´.¸¸.•¨¯`♥.Trish.♥´¯¨•.¸¸.´• August 29, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Lori, I am just glad you found such divine comfort when you needed it most.


Shellye August 29, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Chairman WOW! Those ladies in the chapel who took you in and comforted you with their prayers, your description just tugged at my heartstrings. I hope you find whatever you're looking for in a church, or religion, but remember that it's not about rituals and traditions, it's about your relationship with the god of your choosing. That is what makes it worth while.

I am a Christian. It's a choice I made a long time ago. (I'm not going to force anyone to convert or try to cram Jesus down your throat, I promise.) I've had my moments where I stopped attending church because of how the pastor or the congregation treated me, but I've found a place that I LOVE going to, where you find that love and the strength you spoke about from the pastor who took the time to sit and talk with you. I've been at it seven years now, and my life isn't easy or perfect, (being a christian isn't easy or perfect, and it definitely isn't for the faint of heart), but I don't know what I would ever do with my church, but more importantly, God.


Mum on the Run August 29, 2011 at 10:02 am

This post leaves me with goosebumps and will linger in my mind long after I log off here.
Beautifully written. Lori.


Anonymous August 29, 2011 at 9:02 am

Lori, it sounds as though you met the best and worst of Catholicism on this journey… I hope you will remember the deep comfort and power of the rosary and the company of devoted Christians (likely Catholic) whose arms held you on behalf of Jesus, who surely cried with you that day. I also hope you won't forget that His Church is human just as it is divine; full of people who make mistakes – like applying a litmus test to decide which Catholics are good enough to receive sacraments -and whose actions have the power to chase hurting souls away from the beautiful oasis of the Church. Don't let your own anger and the actions of flawed priests keep you from what you felt in the chapel. Jesus has healing for you, has been walking with you through all of this, and loves you desperately.



Amy xxoo August 29, 2011 at 7:24 am

I believe in some kind of " cosmic order/higher power " type thing, but i certainly dont give it the name God. I was raised Catholic ( my mum, my dad is an agnostic at best ) and attended church until i was 15, at which time i told my mother i was old enough to see through the hypocrisy.

Now? I try to live a good, ethical, moral life but i dont subscribe to any particular dogma. I think we each need to make our own way, believing what we believe, and leave everybody else to do the same…


Crystal August 29, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Ugh – I'm stabby on your behalf that you were left out that the priest had to "check that it was OK" before coming to Tony's bedside and that you weren't present during the last rites. Really, that kind of snobbery/exclusionism is at the core of my disdain for organized religion.

On the other hand, it was really sweet the way the rosary people prayed with you and let you cry.

I'm in the "spiritual but not religious" category – I've seen too much to be inclined to follow any particular dogma or attend church, but at the same time, I've also seen too much to honestly and truly believe that there is no higher power.


Kelloggsville August 28, 2011 at 11:12 pm

'that was all me' : have you read Footsteps?

My core faith is constant but my cloak of doubt, distrust and anger at organised religion ebbs and flows. There is great comfort to be had in familiar ritual at times of need and a Rosary group would have great swathes of comfort. It is funny how 'coincidences' and pockets of support happen when we ask for help. I'm interested to read part two too.


Glowless @ Where’s My Glow August 28, 2011 at 9:25 pm

I was brought up Catholic and am now a staunch atheist. When Tricky was in hospital I went to the chapel as a quiet place to be and to think. I felt like such a hypocrite, even though I didn't go to pray.

When my grandfather passed away last week and we surrounded him while the Last Rites were read, the comfort it brought my grandmother, to have a priest there, performing this last ritual, was palpable.

Where ever we find comfort. Religion, smoking, a few drinks, sex. Whatever. The comfort is craved.

Thanks for sharing this x


Squiggly Rainbow August 28, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Looking forward to the next post Lori – I think faith in God, in Jesus is a personal revelation, one that there are not many words to describe. That is what it's been for me. xo Rach


Mrs Woog August 28, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Read every sentence twice, you have a rare gift Lori…. Divine even xx


The Hand of a Jeanie August 28, 2011 at 8:24 pm

A beautiful post, Lori.


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