Even as I write this I am hesitant to make this post. However, it has been on my mind for a few years now. Religion is such a volatile subject and I hope this won't stir up a hornets nest but rather this will be a calm, respectful discussion. My family was Presbyterian. I was brought up going to Sunday school from the start. When I was around 10 yr old I asked that instead of Sunday school, could I go with mom to "the big room" with her. Even then I was looking for answers. The deal in my family was you had to go to church through the 8th grade but after that it was your choice to continuing going or not. I was not satisfied with what I was hearing so I stopped. When I was in college I took several religion classes as electives; History of Religion, World Religions, etc. Though not entirely sure what I was looking for, I knew I still hadnt found any answers. I developed my own religion of sorts - prayed daily, tried to be a good person - even wore a cross around my neck - not particularly in reference of Jesus but more of a daily commitment to be a giving, kind, generous person. I even went a couple of years watching "church on TV" - that's how I viewed it. I became a big fan of Joyce Meyer - who I still think is awesome. I would say as far as religion goes I am maybe a tiny bit more knowledge than your average American. Then in 2008 my dad got sick - never really made a complete recovery and began his descent into a steady decline - his CHF which began pretty passively really started to get a hold on him. Dads last 1 1/2 years were pretty awful for him physically although his mind was still good up until his final few weeks. I adored my father. While my childhood was pretty awful largely due to my mother - and my parents dysfunction relationship with each other - once I hit my 20's I was able to get past it in regards to my dad. My father was my best friend for the last 30 years of his life. We talked on the phone daily and were as close as any father/daughter can be. My father was always there for me - as well as my disabled son (who is named after his grandpa) he was there for my mother and my brothers too - although neither brother could get past our childhood and was never close to daddy. As far as I'm concerned this was my brothers loss and they never saw my dad for the amazing man he was. This hurt my father - he had tried for so long to make it up to my brothers - for the crappy childhood - and my heart broke for my dad. In the last month I prayed for God to take my father - i couldn't stand to see him suffering and I knew that it was what my father wanted - to end his suffering, to end being the weak helpless person he had become / he hated it. When my dad passed he was in a strange place and alone - it's a long story but in short my mother had him taken to a hospice center behind my back - on the one day in over two months that I couldn't go over to spend the day with him - I will never forgive her for this. My father vehemently did not want to go anywhere like that - he wanted to be at home and I had hired help for 18 hours a day and was in the process of making it 24 hours a day when mom had him moved. Mom did none of the care taking of dad. Okay - so my crisis of faith: why does it have to be like it is for so many of our loved ones as they age? It's painful both mentally and physically. They are robbed of their dignity, their independence, their minds, on and on in the most degrading ways possible. Where is Gods loving mercy? What is it we are meant to learn that has to be taught in the most heinous way possible? While I didn't really expect daddy to contact me from the other side I guess I did expect to feel his presence in some way - as close as we were. There is a thread going now - it's quite beautiful really - of story after story of long passed friends and relatives appearing to gently and lovingly help our loved ones "go home". Some even think Jesus himself is showing up. I'm not meaning to discount thoses stories - but could it be people are telling themselves this is what happens as a way of comforting themselves and their passing loved ones? This whole bit of being reunited - doesn't it make it easier on everyone to believe it's true? But what if when your dead - your just dead, gone? I just feel my dad is gone - forever gone. I've heard it said that faith is believing in something when there is no proof. I feel like I have lost faith. The whole "God works in mysterious ways. God has a plan" just doesn't do it for me any longer. What plan could possibly mean a good man - a man who took care of everyone in his life had to suffer in the most painful and degrading ways imaginable? I guess some of the Sunday school fire and brimstone lessons have stuck - I practically find myself looking over my shoulder for a lightening bolt as I write this. But beyond that?