In my last post, “A Pro-Science, Skeptical Woman Speaks” I interviewed a woman with whom I share many views in common. One of my goals here at Feminism and Religion is to introduce different secular, atheistic, liberal feminists who share many of the same ethical views as regular contributors and readers, but not the same “religious” or “spiritual” ideas. In this post I examine an online support network for unbelievers, Grief Beyond Belief, and ask a few questions to its founder, Rebecca Hensler.
I met Rebecca in February in San Francisco while on a visit I made to meet with the Unitarian Universalist Association in regards to my ordination. My girlfriend and I met Rebecca in North Beach, San Francisco for dinner and drinks. I experienced her as a compassionate, friendly, and genuine person. Her experiences and insights inspired me to think more about the role of grief and pain among unbelievers. I mean, atheists cry, agnostics experience loss, skeptics lose family members, and we do it all without a “God” or “spirit” to help us. And if we were to meet C.S. Lewis, we would make
sure to exclaim, “No…pain is not some megaphone for God to rouse a deaf world.”
Why did you start Grief Beyond Belief?
The original idea was born of my own grief. After my son died, I found a group in which to share comfort and compassion with other grieving parents: The Compassionate Friends, a mainstream parental grief support organization with a strong online presence. It was so close to exactly what I needed, but I frequently felt alienated by the religious and spiritual content — not just the offers of comfort that depended on beliefs I do not hold, but the assumption that everyone there held some sort of belief in life after death. And the assumption, so common in mainstream grief support, that even if I am not the same religion as you are, I have a religion, and I believe in some sort of afterlife was equally alienating and hurtful. Continue reading “Grief Beyond Belief and Rebecca Hensler by Kile Jones”