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My Mom is an atheist--she has been one since shortly after my brother died 25 years ago. For comfort, she decided to read the Bible cover-to-cover, and when she was done she didn't believe in it anymore.

I am also an atheist, but came to it through a different route. I learned of my Mom's newfound loss of faith because I wanted to call her and taunt her with MY lack of faith--as kids will do--about 20 years ago. When I told her I was an atheist she said, "You know, I am too. It just doesn't make sense to me." And then she told me how she had come to that determination.

So that's the background, just to set up that I am in no way responsible for my Mom's atheism.

My mother has a sister, my aunt, who is VERY religious. However, my mother never told her that she was an atheist because she didn't want to hurt he feelings--but she did tell my aunt that I am an atheist. So, as far as aunt is concerned, I am the evil heathen bad influence.

My aunt is very demanding about what I must do for my Mom--including having chaplains visit--preferably Lutheran. I'm fine with that, as my Mom is in hospice care and the guy they sent was very cool and doesn't proselytize--just chats with my Mom. I should note that the aunt never offers to contact and send a chaplain--I have to do that. I'm also supposed to read her Bible verses. . .

The last time she visited, I came home from a hair appointment to find a cross nailed to my Mom's bedroom wall. My Mom's aide described how she had brought her own nail, but couldn't find a hammer, so she had helped them look for a hammer after my Mom said it was okay. (The aide knows my Mom is not religious)

I came home to find this giant thing that had made a huge hole in the plaster wall. My aunt jumped up quickly to explain that my Mom said it was okay. Well, OF COURSE she said it was okay--she has dementia, for one, and also doesn't want to offend her sister. But even when my Mom was a believer, she NEVER had crosses on the walls.

When her sister left, my Mom told me to "take that thing down." So I did, and put a little picture there. But EVERY time aunt calls, she asks my Mom about the cross. So I said, very loudly, that Mom had asked me to put it on her bedside table so she could hold it. Now I will have to make sure to get it out of the drawer every time aunt comes to visit, lol.

So here's the dilemma. I have no problem with people of faith--nor does my Mom. But my aunt seems to think i am putting atheist cooties all over my Mom or something, and her religious demands are getting oppressive. It's not like I don't have enough to do without arranging clergy visits also. So, should i tell my aunt that my mom has not been religious for 25 years?

I am tempted to tell my aunt that my mother was an atheist a long time ago--before I was. But I don't want to hurt her, and she also might not believe me because Dementia Mom might contradict me.

Sigh.

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Linda, then all the deities are covered!!. LOL
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Grumpy, because you need a smile (having already gotten good advice) Let me tell you about my husband's aunt's funeral. Her funeral was planned by her granddaughter, according to the granddaughter's own spiritual beliefs (not her grandma's), and the reception after was put together by the church friends of the sister of the deceased. So....the deceased was a Christian, the service was Scientology and the reception was provided by Mormons.
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Assandache and Phoenix, I love you both!
Love from Sendme2
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grumpyotter, did your mother plan a Christian burial? I think this could be a real problem point for your aunt.
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assandache7, no, I don't suggest hanging the cross back up. Mom doesn't want it up. And I don't suggest reading the Bible verses or calling in clergy.

I'm just pointing out that this situation is the natural consequence of Mom keeping a secret. No need to blame Aunt about this. The cross is in the bedside drawer. Mom wants it there. End of discussion.

I am an atheist. I haven't tried to keep that a secret but I don't wear it embroidered on my jacket, either. Many friends and some family members don't know that, just because it has never come up in our interactions. If a cousin showed up in my hospice room with a cross I would take it as a token of caring and certainly would not be upset about it -- unless it was from someone who clearly knew my views. Then I'd be upset.

You keep something a secret, you really cannot be upset that people don't know it!

I do feel sorry for grumpyotter, though, caught in the middle.
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Good idea Phoenix! Fib, not upside down..lol
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Whatever you do don't put it back upside down!!!!
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I think it is perhaps best if you tell a fib here. I don't usually suggest this (ok well maybe I do actually) but I would tell aunty that Mum became very distressed, after she had gone, about Jesus dying on the cross and because it is important to keep her stress level low it has been decided to remove the cross. That way Mum keeps her secret you don't lose your temper and quite frankly aunty can do one! I too am a non believer.
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Jeanne I understand what you're saying BUT could you imagine grumpyotter running in her Mom's room and putting it back up when Aunt shows up...

We both know how busy her day can be caring for her mother..Enough stress to deal with!
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This reminds me of a family situation from years ago. A young woman was livid that a relative said critical things about the young woman's husband. Of course when two people get married it is time to shut up about the spouse's faults and be nothing but supportive. So I can understand the young woman's outrage. But she had gotten married secretly and no one in the family knew that this man was her husband. True story! If you want your spouse respected as such, then you had best not keep your marriage a secret!

In this case auntie is acting appropriately to the best of her knowledge. Of course she should respect her sister's belief system, but how can we reasonably expect that when she has never been told it has changed since their shared childhood? This is not a situation where a relative is coming in and trying to convert the dying person or taking advantage of the dementia. Auntie has no reason to think her sister does not share her beliefs.

For reasons probably only known to herself, Mom has decided not to tell her sister of her new outlook on life. She has maintained that position for a quarter of a century. I think it would be wrong to "out" her now. I think it would be wrong to criticize Aunt for doing what she thinks is best.

All of this puts the poster in an awkward situation. I am surely sorry about that. No, I don't think daughter needs to agree to read bible passages or call in clergy. Daughter knows mom's true feelings and needs to respect them. But daughter also knows mom's secret that auntie doesn't know, and really needs to respect her mother's choice not to tell her.

The present situation is a consequence of your mother keeping her spiritual views secret from some parts of her family. Her choice. Respect it. Unfortunately that leaves you, grumpyotter, looking like the bad guy. I'm truly sorry about that, but I hope you can rise above that for your mother's sake.
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Give the cross back, no explanation needed.
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Don't put it back up!

You have enough to deal with!!

If Aunt asks just tell her the truth, Mom asked to take it down..

End of story!
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I'm having such a hard time putting together a helpful answer to this question...even ignoring the religious portion...if anyone, and i mean ANYONE pounded something into the wall...I don't care if it was a cross, or a photo of a puppy, or a photo of Khal Drogo from HBO's Game of Thrones, I would be pitching a major fit...how dare they damage the wall for any reason at all...on the basis of my father with dementia's approval????

Now, on to the religious question...this is a bit more convoluted. I am VERY adamant that a person's religion should be respected. Which is why when my Irish Catholic mother passed...I made SURE a Catholic priest was called to administer the last rights before the life support was removed. I made sure she was buried according to her very strict Catholic beliefs...no autopsy (and I fought the medical examiner on this), wearing her glasses in the casket, Irish wake, burial inside of a sarcophagus, etc...all things I do not believe in...but she did and I made sure that every detail was to her liking and accordance with her wishes.

Having said that, your mom was a self declared Atheist (and the part about you sprinkling your Atheist cooties is freaking HILARIOUS). I personally believe that as her caring son, and as her POA, you have a duty to ensure that your mom's beliefs are respected. And if that means telling your Aunt the truth that your mom was afraid to do for so many years, so be it. This is YOUR mother and you know exactly what she wants. Make sure to honor that. Having all these relics around her seems ridiculous...even for someone who is devout. Your aunt just seems like she is reaching for something that's missing in her own life. This is about your mom and her comfort in her last days and you have every right, and every duty to make this peaceful for her and in line with her beliefs. For me, personally, catering to your aunt by hiding the cross and taking it out, and all the other things, is not healthy for you, not right for your mother....just plain unnecessary.

Angel
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Grumpyrotter, Next time you visit your aunt's home, just install a huge honking nail (like railroad spikes) onto her bedroom wall,

Sorry, no offense intended.
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Hello,
First of all I want to give give a big applaud to every CAREGIVER out there. I know everything you are facing now and more to come after your loved one passes away. I was my mothers caregiver for 7 years, she recently passed away at age 99 on March 1st 2016.
My mother was my entire life and I am so lost without her.
In reguards to the so called christian aunt, well my mother had 154 desendants 9 children, 24 grandchildren, 60 great grandchildren, 61 great great grandchildren and everyone are CHRISTIANS. My mother was a strong Christian and her faith in God was the only thjng she trusted. 5 siblings had passed away so we have 4 of us 2 sisters & 2 brothers, my brother wants to kick me out of my mothers mobile home because of pure greed. My mother had a will that states she wanted me to live her as long as I wanted. But my brothers name is on the title with my mothers name, now understand he was a pasyor at one time. My siblings and others vistited my mother vary rare never once in 7 years offered to let me have a night off or even a day off. They only had thier opinions about what I should be doing for my mother. Now after her passing I have washed my hands of most family members. I never got paid for the care I gave my mother. Unless your Aunt is helping you, then she can gave an opinion other wise ignore her in every way. I am so sick of the ones out there not supporting the caregivers. To every person pointing fingers at the caregiver you better wake up because your day will come when you will have to carevor be cared for by a caregiver. So quit judging and HELP OUT, If you can't help at least show support to the caregiver. Just think for a moment of being accountable all the time and having patiece and changinging diapers, and constantly repeating your self again and again.
Mardygirl
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Good one, pfontes. She could also say that Mother converted to Jehovah's Witnesses. They are very against the cross, since they believe Jesus was killed on a post. They are also against any displays of religious pictures or symbols. They can post pictures of clowns or deer, but not pictures of Jesus or angels.
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I've always faced fire with fire in these situations: Tell your Aunt that God told you to put it away.
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Take the cross out of the drawer any time your aunt visits and let her say what she wants to your mom. If your mom is disturbed by your aunt's religious nature you can tell your aunt why. Otherwise, put the cross away when your aunt leaves and don't give it another thought until the next visit.
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Atheist Cooties.....Like that.....Praise the lord.....

People of "Faith" sometimes have a hard time believing there are people of no faith and want to save us fron the fires of hell. Fine. But at some point you have to set the record straight. It's always a judgement call as to whether it's worth the hassle to demand your right not to believe, or in you case your mothers right not to believe.
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If the aunt is not there very often, it doesn't need to occupy much of your brain space. And it shouldn't matter what she thinks of you for not believing like her. I would let it bother me at all.
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If anybody is going to tell auntie, it should be mom herself. Of course she won't, because it would stir up trouble. I would put the cross away, calling it a reminder of horrible torture. There are happier symbols to share, maybe a picture of a Madonna and child or some angels.
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