The New York Times Article Former Member Speaks Out

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    Surviving the Death of My Son After the Death of My Faith

    I had lost the one thing that could have numbed my pain.

    By Amber Scorah

    Ms. Scorah is the author of a memoir about faith and loss.

    Several years after leaving my religion, I felt sure I had encountered all the situations I might possibly need to get used to in my new life.

    What I had not prepared myself for was death. Grief without faith. Which is to say, death without hope.Religion was born for this. When my father died, I was a devout Jehovah’s Witness. I was 18 years old. I was sad. But I wasn’t that sad, because I believed what my religion had taught me: that death was of no great consequence, as long as we remained faithful. God would soon destroy all of the non-Jehovah’s Witnesses at Armageddon, my father would be brought back to life, and we would live forever on a “paradise Earth.”

    But then I left my religion behind. I moved to New York and built a new life. I found ways to earn money. I had relationships. I learned not to think that every thunderclap outside my window was Armageddon. And I wrestled with my spirituality — mourning, in a sense, the loss of the peace of mind faith had given me. I had felt so wholly deceived by religion, I saw no more worth in ancient explanations, in every old answer. I tried hard to make sense of a life without belief.

    Seven years passed, and I felt that I had done the best someone could hope to. I was O.K. I felt happy again.

    In classical mythology and literature, seven years is an appropriate period of mourning. Maybe that was why the desire to create life began to gnaw at me. My grief over the loss of my belief system had run its course, and I was renewed, full of love for life, which felt even more precious now that I knew it would not go on forever.

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