A Beloved and Compassionate Elder Trapped in a Cult Just Died , What should I do?

by TastingFreedom 41 Replies latest jw friends

  • TastingFreedom

    I just heard the sad news that a very loving and kind elder for the congregation that I belonged to for 15 years just died from a heart attack. He was someone that I had great admiration and deep respect for, even now that I'm out from the JWs.

    He was my mentor and an inspiration to me as an elder, and in many ways he showed me the contradictions of the WTS, he was a breath of fresh air within a cult. He was rarely a company man, he fought for justice, love and compassion within the cult. In his quest to fight for justice, sometimes he battled elders, Circuit/District Overseers, and even challenged the Watchtower in some letters. We fought together in some cases while I was still serving.
    He was a cool, down to earth person who had a Harley Davidson, and an exotic sports car. He would help those in need, be nice and kind to the kids, organize activities for them at the park, hiking, etc. I'm sure under pressure he had to concede at the end, but he had good intentions and in many cases he actually managed to get things done his way (the right and fair way as opposed to the WTS narrow minded way).

    He confided doubts about the organization, and even said, "Even if all the promises are not true (he implied that things may not be true), I still have no regrets, This life hasn't been too bad." He saw his mom and dad die while waiting for paradise, and he himself died waiting for that utopia...it never happened. Broken dreams over and over again.

    He once told me, he would rather make a mistake in being compassionate and being forgiving by not DFing someone, then the other way around it. I could see his struggle with those tough decisions he was forced to make by the rest of the body of elders. He still spared many people from being shunned, because he knew how painful it was.

    When I was going through my fading process, he confided to me that if he wasn't too old he would also take a chance at life. Being born into JWs,this is all he had known and I'm sure fear and his status made it very difficult to consider a different life. It was probably very difficult for him to start from scratch in life in his late 70s. But he was true to himself in many ways, he was never a "Yes man" type of guy, he would argue and defend his positions.
    When I stopped going to the meetings, I trusted him with my doubts and he did not turn me in. He came home by himself to talk to me, and I could see his deep care and compassion, he wanted to know how I felt, what I had learned, but never used it against me. He was a respectable man!

    One time he disagreed with the District Convention President that was collecting money from all the department overseers to pay for the speakers coming from Bethel, he made a case that there was no basis for that, where was that written in the bible. He had to write to the Society a couple of letters, at the end, he was proven to be correct. He was a considered a troublemaker for the local and NY Pharisees because he didn't follow all the rules written or unwritten that he was expected to follow. For some periods he was punished, he wasn't given talks at the local circuit, even though was the circuit president, many times he was sidelined by ex-Bethelites who were considered loyal to the Watchtower.

    My heart aches for this man, because he tried to find himself, he had tasted real freedom, but was still stuck within a cult that limited his potential as a human being. It serves as comfort that at least he was one of the decent guys inside of it, if it wasn't for people like him it will be even more miserable for the drones inside that cult.

    Of course, as a result of me being considered an apostate, I'm not sure what their reaction will be if I decided to pay my respects by showing up at the KH for his funeral. I would like his wife to know that I had deep respect for her husband. They will probably shun me, and possibly even say that my exit contributed to his heart problems.
    It breaks my heart that he won't get any credit for who was, they will probably paint him as a loyal/faithful company man for the Watchtower (even though he wasn't at the end of his life)... but i feel I need to honor this man.
    I truly feel in the last few years, he was fighting from within, part of the conscious class, trying to make the most of his life trapped within a cult.

    Writing about him gives me a little bit of peace. I wish I could mention his name, but I don't want to get in trouble.

    Any advise how I can manage this situation? Should I attend? What could happen? It's almost like they wont even let me mourn the loss of someone who was very special/close to me. At one point, I called him my spiritual father.
    Your advise is appreciated.

  • poppers

    Sorry to hear about the death of what sounds like a pretty decent guy. Why don't you make an anonymous donation on his behalf to some worthy cause? You don't even have to mention his name if you don't want to.

  • Gregor

    Out of respect for the feelings you had for him I suggest you attend, sit quietly near the back and make the best of the JW info-mercial funeral talk.

    He sounds like a hell of a guy. Pay your respects, even if this can only be done within your own heart. He would probably be pleased that you cared.

    If some nitwit tries to hustle you, look them in the eye and say "This is ------'s day to be remembered"

  • OnTheWayOut

    You can mourn a loss in many ways that is better than listening to a recruitment speech. You already have.

    But in answering your question, I would only go to a Kingdom Hall "memorial" if it helped someone alive. If your presence makes a big difference to a mourner (concerning the death, not just a family member or friend thrilled to see you) you might consider going. If your presence won't make a hill-of-beans difference to the loved ones of the deceased, then there really is no reason.

  • cuckoo in the nest
    cuckoo in the nest

    So long as you remember this thoroughly decent, noble man his true nature will never be forgotten. Nor will any amount of WT whitewash erase his true nature. Mourn his passing certainly, but do so in a way that honours who he was, not what they would have you believe. If you feel unable to attend the funeral, then don't. Go to the grave later. Send condolences or flowers if you wish, it's up to those he left behind how they respond to them. You're actions are beyond reproach, motivated by respect and admiration. Those who truly knew and understood him will appreciate the gesture, and if not then it's their loss. I am sure this gentleman would think well of you. It sounds as though he was one of the good guys, and the world is a poorer place with his passing.

  • flipper

    TASTING FREEDOM- I would do whatever your heart or intuition tells you to do as a loving, caring person who had feelings of compassion for this person. Sympathy cards are good. Especially if you hand it to his wife or children. It will make them as JW's appreciate the personal attention ( which they aren't used to receiving as witnesses ) and make YOU feel better for showing your caring. Just my 2 cents. Take care friend. I'm sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. Sincerely, Mr. Flipper

  • AudeSapere
    It's almost like they wont even let me mourn the loss of someone who was very special/close to me.

    They don't see that you have a right to mourn with them. Many also think that when we leave the organization, we leave all loving feelings behind or that any we have are clouded with guilt.

    Really tough to know how they would treat you personally if you decided to attend the service at the hall. Seems to me that you should go - because you *want* to go. Maybe give a simple, non-preachy card to his wife and maybe also to other family that were close to you.

    If you decide not to go, and/or if it doesn't give you the comfort and closure that you desire, you can always do a little ceremony by yourself or with your family. Something at the beach, in the mountains, or at his gravesite.

    Really sorry to learn of your loss. Sounds like he was a good man.


  • TastingFreedom

    Thank you everyone for the feedback. I'm really debating what to do. My wife wants to go for sure and I feel I need to support her.

    But we risk possibly even being kicked out.. who knows??? (Any chance of that?)

  • Lady Lee
    Lady Lee

    It would not surprise me if they refused to allow you to enter the hall. I doubt you would want to be the cause for a scene which would take away from what little attention they will give to him.

    Why not write a letter to his wife/family and find a way to grieve on your own.

    When my sister died 5 years ago my mother didn't even think she was worthy of a funeral. I took time with my 2 daughters and we talked about her and made our own opportunity to say our goodbyes. The following spring on her birthday I went to the river and cast a rose over the waters.

    Find your own way to say goodbye. Where you do that is irrelevant.

    Sorry for your loss

  • Gayle

    You speak with a very fond heart for this elder. If he touched your life in a positive way, I think it would be a fine thing for you to go. There are fine people there, not because of the organization but in spite of it. I know because of our negative experiences with the organization, that we personally don't want to go to the KH again. But if we had a fondness or respect for anyone else from any other religion, would we not go, even though we ourselves don't believe in their religion.

    I have two ex-JW friends that had a close relatives die, one her mom and one her cousin. They did not have any 'ill- will' toward the deceased. As their friend, I went with them so that they would not feel alone. Do you have a friend to go with you?

    It was strange going back into a Hall (a different hall from where I ever attended before), many, many years, somewhat of a time-capsule experience, I felt sorry for them mostly,,I didn't know any one else there. There was such a pronounced emptiness there.

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