An Example of a “Grief Sage”

Awhile back, I coined the term “Grief Sage” to describe those people in our culture who try to use their suffering as a Teaching License.

Rather than humbly seeking answers to some of life’s deepest questions, a Grief Sage expects the right to SPEAK THEIR OWN TRUTH, without being questioned…because they’re hurting and no one feels confortable contradicting a hurting person.

The post I wrote on the subject is long, and I took great care to say things gently (while using personal examples of my own grief) so that I wouldn’t upset anyone too much. But I don’t have the space to repost the entire thing here, and I’m aware that sharing a shortened excerpt gives people the opportunity to misread my tone. 

Here’s an excerpt anyway:

“It worries me the way our culture tends to elevate and revere people who are suffering, WHILE THEY ARE IN THE THICK OF IT.

…my frustration comes from the power we give those who want to use their suffering as a Teaching License.  I’m fine with letting a person feel their emotions as long as necessary–but let’s notice the difference between asking “is this God’s will?” and declaring, “this did not happen for a reason.”

There’s a subtle difference between someone who is asking for help and someone inviting you to sit in their lecture hall, while they proudly share their wisdom.

If the person grieving is still in the question-asking stage of their journey, then they’re already processing things, exactly as they should be.

That’s a good thing!

But, when a person demands the final word because she believes that suffering gives her the right to construct her own Truth, she is in a dangerous place.  

Today, I just want to share a brief dialog, to better illustrate how a Grief Sage might behave in the wild.

(For clarity while you’re reading this exchange, “Grief Beyond Belief” is a support group for Atheists who have lost loved ones. The Rules for Conduct page on their website specifically says, “Religious, spiritual or pseudoscientific content is not permitted anywhere on this site…”)

10.17.19 I'm an Atheist (edit)

I know some of my readers already recognize the contradictions within a “Grief Beyond Belief” philosophy.   (Namely, that Atheism IS a philosophy–and nobody can stop being religious.)

But, I’m going to highlight just three of the quotes that make this a perfect “Grief Sage” situation:

#1. “You must speak to me respecting MY background–not yours.”   

This is the mantra of the Grief Sage in a nutshell.  “I’m the one hurting, so I’m the one controlling the rules of this dialog.”  (Well, not just her, but also the rest of the Grief Sages over there proudly enforcing a “Code of Conduct” and calling themselves Freethinkers.)  There is no reason given for WHY a person’s Atheism gets blind respect, just because they lost a loved one.  That’s just what they’ve decided and it’s a rule they tell people who dare try to offer condolences the wrong way.

#2.  “They think their religion, out of 4000 others in the world, is superior.”

Atheists love this talking point whether they’re grieving or not.  The problem for them is, they clearly believe their way of thinking is superior as well. This particular Sage actually tells us the point of her whole comment is to help another person do better “in the future,” so she won’t make the same mistake of recommending a video with the word “faith” in it again. (Bad person! You don’t own your words when a Sage is Grieving!)

Further more, she says, “This [tragedy] didn’t happen because a god/goddess needed [my loved one] or because I didn’t believe in [God].”  That’s not the position of a neutral party who is refusing to pick sides in a 4000-religion battle: that’s a Sage who believes very firmly that she has some answers, too, and she’s preaching a powerful sermon.

Which brings me to…

#3.   “I’ve had to become a spokesperson for other people in my position…”

Obviously.   All you have to do is change some words around, and The Sage is saying EXACTLY what I’ve been saying:  “I’m in a position (because I’ve experienced loss) to speak [my wisdom] to others.”

Of course, no one dares make any of these points directly TO the Sages, or even in the presence of their Friends/Fans/Worshippers.  We must be careful who’s listening when we ask, “Um, do people become good teachers with true things to say, just because they’ve experienced pain?”

Don’t ask that question in public!

If you do, hundreds of Devotees will rise up to “support” the Grieving Person and defend her from your insensitive words. (Honestly, you might as well recommend a religious movie. THAT’S how dumb you are.) In an effort to help you do better next time, the Supporters will shout:

“How dare you invalidate her feelings?”

or

“People leave the Church because of bigots like you!”

and

“Why can’t you just be nice and let the Sage boss you around, like the rest of us do?”

Nobody wants to add extra pain to someone who is already hurting.  No one wants to contradict a Grieving person, for fear of making their suffering worse…

And so, Grief Sages continually shift entire cultures, leading people astray with their bad philosophies and almost unlimited power.

12 thoughts on “An Example of a “Grief Sage”

  1. sklyjd

    Would you be happy if a Muslim quoted his Quran to you or the grievers as condolence or a prayer if you were in grief over the death of a loved Christian family member without first asking for approval Amanda? I am sure you would like respect particularly for the sick or a dead persons former beliefs.

    “they clearly believe their way of thinking is superior”

    Don’t make me laugh, Christians always think their religion is the only one and superior because it has the one real God just like all the others.

    I do believe people who have suffered pain will make their minds known and defend what they believe because they can, just as Christians do when they thank the Lord for the good and bad events. I always find Christians praising the Lord that they themselves or many more people did not die during some disaster or another and if that is not preaching a sermon I do not know what is.

    My atheist friend died some years ago and his Christian daughter felt the need to put her hand on the coffin and recite loudly a prayer, possibly so the dead could hear it. It took her mother only a few seconds to step in and stop this preaching, something I know he would not have wanted, so what is wrong with a quiet prayer by yourself if you have the need, why air it in public?

    “And so, Grief Sages continually shift entire cultures, leading people astray with their bad philosophies and almost unlimited power.”

    So how does that work, entire cultures you say?

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    1. mrsmcmommy Post author

      I have demonstrated repeatedly that I let people say whatever they want. You, of all people, should know a Muslim would be welcome to quote the Koran, just as you offer your godless perspective fairly often. In fact, I actually ASKED YOU (repeatedly) to share what you would say to the grieving families of school shootings, and I ASKED YOU how you would counsel and comfort someone who is considering suicide?

      It still hasn’t occurred to you why I invite everyone to speak freely…

      I would actually consider inviting an Atheist to speak at MY DAD’S funeral, as long as the rest of the family were allowed to respond with questions afterward. And maybe we’d even read this eulogy my dad wrote a few years ago. 🙂 Seems like a perfectly reasonable way to honor him, and I’m being completely serious.

      https://johnbranyan.com/flexing-my-hopeless-muscles/

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      1. sklyjd

        “I actually ASKED YOU (repeatedly) to share what you would say to the grieving families of school shootings, and I ASKED YOU how you would counsel and comfort someone who is considering suicide?”

        I think I have told you that professionals without ideological influence should do these jobs. What could anyone say except to support these grieving and suicidal people? Personally I would explain to grievers that someone will always be there for them such as real loving human relatives and friends. I would tell a suicidal person the truth as we know it, that they would never see anyone they love again because this life is considered to be the only life they will ever have.

        I can imagine you would lie to them; would you tell the grieving non-Christians that they will see their dead relatives in heaven, and would you claim a supernatural human like God will resurrect their dead family members?

        Let’s be completely honest, it would all be ideological nonsense, but you clearly understand that this speculation will never have any comebacks or complaints from the living or the dead.

        I would expect that most Christian families would be against Muslims prayers at a Christian funeral, but an atheist speaking would be very reasonable and would often happen because atheists do not have religious ideologies or preach atheism at funerals or any other events for that matter.

        I would doubt your dad has any atheist friends, but if he has they will not love him because he is a Christian, it will be because he is a person they want to be with, someone they understand and because this person who is your father accepted them regardless of their beliefs.

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      2. mrsmcmommy Post author

        Humans are so funny. Everyone wants to be seen as thoughtful and wise…

        Maybe I’ll just read your last comment at my dad’s funeral. I’ll explain it to the grieving audience like this, “My dad spent a lot of time trying to offer wisdom to people who were already wise in their own eyes… He used many words–some would say wasted–trying to take the mirror away from arrogant Atheists so they could fall in love with God instead… But, if he couldn’t help a lost, self-righteous Atheist, at least he could laugh when THEY tried to hold up their mirror for HIM, pathetically thinking he would see and be impressed by the same thing they were obsessed with. Atheists saw their own bloviating selves, but my dad saw a flawed man covered by the grace of his Creator… This reality supplied him with endless joy and laughter that we know continues even though we no longer hear it with our physical ears. Dad taught us to laugh at absurdity–at anything that is not of God–at DEATH ITSELF. And that’s what we’re going to do today.”

        Then we would read your comment and laugh and laugh that you sincerely believe there is such thing as “no ideology”–while telling a suicidal person the “truth as you know it.” 😂

        (And if that’s not bad enough, the ‘truth’ you would tell a SUICIDAL PERSON is: “You will never see your loved one again…” 😂) Oh, man, I would LOVE to allow anyone the chance to say whatever they want when my loved one dies because THE TRUTH will always be more powerful than the “truth as an Atheist knows it.” But I totally understand why you Atheists and Muslims become Grief Sages who strictly limit grief speech in your own lives. 🙂

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      3. sklyjd

        Well Amanda you are really full of it.

        Atheists love themselves and have more wisdom than any of the gods. Yes of course, it is absurd that they would think that of something that does not exist, but what is far more absurd is that atheists actually do exist on our planet whereas God, heaven and hell actually do not exist anywhere outside of a theists narrow mind.

        If people want to believe they will sit next to God in heaven and be with their loved family again for eternity so be it and I really hope they do, however I am not going to pander or preach the heaven and hell doctrines of any religious ideologies to the sick and dying, even though you expect these sort of stories to be spouted to them and of course just as long as it is only YOUR kind of truth and stuff the others.

        The truth is not heaven and hell, you have to get a grip of yourself and accept reality, these are made up places by early man and all religions since day one have similar places you end up in after death. These ideals give hope and warmth to the dying who believe they meet God’s standards, but then the same goes for a mass murderer. The death bed repentance is a quick “shoe in” to share love in heaven with Jesus and obviously for those bad Christians along with all the other non-Christians. Now that is real absurdity.

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      1. John Branyan

        I can only think of one atheist who might be willing to speak at my funeral and he would stay squarely in the middle of the road offering platitudes that would be construed as Christian.

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      2. mrsmcmommy Post author

        Yep. And poor Skyljd thinks that’s a GOOD thing. He thinks that’s the appeal of an Atheist who supposedly doesn’t have any beliefs. They are blank slates upon which you can write your own condolences. Lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. iamcurmudgeon

    Once you’ve had a PERSONAL encounter with Jesus Christ, anyone can say anything, bring any argument to bear, against the exclusivity of the Trinity, and it doesn’t matter. When people “leave THE church”, not a church, Zig Ziglar said it best. “If a hypocrite is standing between you and God….the hypocrite is closer to God than you are.”

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  3. Jeff Lane

    It’s nice to know that all the hypocrites aren’t in the church. I never have thought about having an atheist deliver a eulogy but I would like a comedian to do mine.

    Liked by 1 person

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