Family member -possible terminal illness
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15-10-2015, 09:08 PM
Family member -possible terminal illness
I could use some advice from anyone who has faced a terminal or serious illness with a family member, and has had to deal with religiosity in the face of it. My brother in law is an atheist. He and I are the only atheists in the family. Everyone else in the family are Christians, and my sister (wife of the atheist brother in law) is devoutly so. My brother in law is undergoing testing for Huntington's Disease. He is showing some symptoms, and has a family history. For those of you who don't know, the disease is fucking awful. It kills you, and it does it slowly. You lose control of your body, your psychiatric health, and your intellect. You lose the ability to speak and swallow. There is no cure.

My mother and my sister have been praying about it, and my mother has told my brother in law he needs to pray the test is negative. To be fair to my mother, I'm not sure she knows he's an atheist. She does know I am, and she told me about telling him to pray. She and I NEVER discuss our differences in religion, but I flat out blurted out "that won't change anything". We had an uncomfortable discussion about it, then changed the subject.

My mother and I are certainly affected by this, but of course, the main people affected are my brother in law and my sister. They are the focus here. If they were both religious, I'd of course, keep my mouth shut and listen to them praise Jesus all they wanted. I know religion brings comfort to a lot of people. My sister is greatly comforted by it, and deserves to rely on it. She is facing widowhood and single motherhood if this test comes back positive. I would never ever dream of taking that away from her. My brother in law is not anti-religion, but also is offended when people tell him he should find Jesus, etc. He deserves NOT to have it forced on him. How the hell are they supposed to manage those opposing ways of dealing with such a tragedy? How are they supposed to find a common ground? They have faced adversity before, but nothing like this.

What about the rest of us? I feel really badly that I pushed my mom on the issue. I feel like I should have let her talk about praying and not said anything. She wasn't telling me I should pray, and she has never tried to proselytize me. By the same token, I have never said anything to her until now when she talked about praying and god watching for people, etc. When she said that about telling my brother in law to pray, it was just 2 hours after his consultation with the neurologist (I drove him there. My sister could not afford to miss work) where we found out the doctor was highly suspicious he would test positive. Until then, we'd been able to have our heads in the sand a bit. Now, it's very real, and I was scared and shocked. I know she was too. Do I owe her an apology?
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15-10-2015, 09:41 PM (This post was last modified: 15-10-2015 09:47 PM by jennybee.)
RE: Family member -possible terminal illness
I'm so sorry. My heart goes out to you, your brother-in-law, and your family.

I have not had to deal with terminal illness of family/friends as an atheist. When my dad got sick, I was a christian and my first instinct was to pray. My mom will call me on occasion and tell me to pray for someone even though she knows I am not a believer. I usually just say I'll be thinking of them and hoping they will be okay. I will also try and help out by offering to babysit kids, cook meals, walk dogs, or run errands.

I'm okay with people praying if that's their thing and they use that as a coping mechanism. However, if it is bothering someone who is dealing with an illness, I would certainly say something to them in as kind a way as possible because I do think deep down they mean well and they are also going through the fear and hurt of dealing with a loved one who is going through a serious illness.

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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15-10-2015, 09:43 PM
RE: Family member -possible terminal illness
Not being a fan of drama, and not being bothered by the thought of roleplaying my way through life in order to avoid it, I'll lead the prayers myself if that's what it takes.

'Murican Canadian
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15-10-2015, 11:37 PM
RE: Family member -possible terminal illness
Sounds to me like your handling this as well as anyone in your spot could. You shouldn't have any regrets. Regarding apologizing to your mom.....I suspect if it becomes appropriate you will recognize the time and place to do it.....so for right now....just don't sweat it. It might not even be an issue. Mom's are pretty forgiving. Focus your energy on taking care of your sister and brother in law as best you can.
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16-10-2015, 12:29 AM
RE: Family member -possible terminal illness
Having nursed my mother though approx' 10 years of MS, I can relate to the struggle. Beware of priests finding out and then trying to get their evil clutches in. This happened toward the end of mum's life and I told the priest NEVER to return. He knew I meant it due to my being right in his face. He very nearly got punched out.

Now I have an illness that has nearly killed me three times since Sept 2014. You just have to put your head down and deal with it. There's no other choice. And no fictional god is gonna help in any way. So tell relaties, priests etc to fuck off.

It worked for me and mum died nonetheless.

NOTE: Member, Tomasia uses this site to slander other individuals. He then later proclaims it a joke, but not in public.
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16-10-2015, 04:38 AM
RE: Family member -possible terminal illness
No, you don't owe your mom an apology.

It is ludicrous to expect that god will somehow change a test result. If your BIL has Huntington's, he has Huntington's. I certainly hope that he doesn't. However, at this point you don't have to point out the idiocy of praying for this, or for anything else.

I think a good plan of action is to stay on decent terms with other family members so that you can be around to give support to your BIL when he gets fed up with religious people and needs to blow off steam.

I've had a couple of family members with terminal diagnoses, and for us the family turmoil tended to settle down a few weeks after the diagnosis, when people had had time to absorb it. Then start back up once the person had died. People can act like absolute jackasses when there's money and adult children involved.
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16-10-2015, 06:10 AM
RE: Family member -possible terminal illness
(16-10-2015 04:38 AM)julep Wrote:  No, you don't owe your mom an apology.

It is ludicrous to expect that god will somehow change a test result. If your BIL has Huntington's, he has Huntington's. I certainly hope that he doesn't. However, at this point you don't have to point out the idiocy of praying for this, or for anything else.

I know, right? When she said that, I had this mental image of god sitting up there saying "Oh, well I was going to give that guy a horrible neurodegenerative disease, but now that he PRAYED, I guess I'll just go ahead and change his genetic makeup"

Thank you everyone for responding and offering support
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16-10-2015, 08:35 AM
RE: Family member -possible terminal illness
I don't think you owe your mother an apology. However, if she feels you do, you should consider it.
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16-10-2015, 08:54 AM
RE: Family member -possible terminal illness
(16-10-2015 08:35 AM)Thumpalumpacus Wrote:  I don't think you owe your mother an apology. However, if she feels you do, you should consider it.

Agreed. I don't think you owe her an apology either. But emotions are running high right now. She uses prayer to cope. Now is not the time for debates about religion, it's a time to support each other. If it were me, I would probably "try and be the bigger person" and apologize--even if i didn't feel I was wrong or even owed her an apology. But I would say to her something along the lines of: "Mom, I'm sorry we got into it the other day about prayer. I respect that you believe and feel that it is helping. I know we have differences of opinion on that and we are both trying to handle things as best we can in our own way. I love you and let's all rally around b-i-l and offer as much support as we can for him and each other." That way you are apologizing but not saying you were wrong. I dunno, just my opinion.

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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16-10-2015, 12:41 PM
RE: Family member -possible terminal illness
I don't think you owe your mother an apology, either, although I'd probably go to great lengths to avoid the subject in the future.

The one who will suffer twice is your BIL if they get all religious around him. In later stages, he may lose the ability to tell them to stuff it, or perhaps he won't care by then. My mother made me promise that I wouldn't let *anyone* pray over her, including her son the HolierThanThouAssholeDeadbeatReligitard. If your BIL is atheist, he may not appreciate their well-intentioned praying. Perhaps your presence and example will help ease that.

Of course, first choice is the test comes back negative and we're all just blowing smoke here. Keep us informed.

We have enough youth. How about looking for the Fountain of Smart?
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