My Dad is terminally ill with a rare cancer.  It has been a terrible thing to go down this path with him.  I do feel helpless in the fact that there isn't anything, other than being there, that I can do for him.  It's tough when you are a Type A in a situation that you can not change or control.

When the majority of people find out, they, of course, tell me they are praying for him.  While it doesn't really bother me, because they are helpless as well, I find that as time goes on, I want to say something to them.  If I, from a practical standpoint, can't do anything, what in the hell is prayer going to do for him?  Do people think that by praying that they can actually change the outcome in anyway?  And if by some crazy chance his health does change, will they accept credit it for it, because it was due to their prayers?

My family has steadily moved away from religion in the past several years, but I am the only who is not a believer.  I know that they secretly pray for my dad to recover and I think they have that right, but when they talk about miracles happening, I want to slap them for it.  If medicine and doctors can't fix him, where is this miracle going to come from?

I haven't voiced any of these thoughts to friends or family, but have any of you been in this place and if so (or even if not, but put yourself here) what did you do/say?  

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Your dad doesn't happen to be chemistry teacher by any chance? Make some miracles of his own happen.

No Walter White's in this family :-)

I have thought to say something along those lines, but then I wonder if it's a waste of breath.  Actually I guess I know it is.  Thank you though.  It's more important at this time to worry about spending time with him then those who waste time asking some pretend man on the moon to fix everything.

@Sharon P;

When he is awake, hold his hand and talk to him.

When he is asleep, hold his hand and talk to him.

Take this time to show him your love.

All of us who have experienced this before you share your pain.


@Belle Rose;

Two Thumbs Up.

I have been there.  My father died from a vicious and rare brain cancer.  I had one lady say to me, several times for various reasons, "I know you don't believe but my prayer circle is praying for you and your family."  So somewhere out there are people I don't even know praying for me and my relatives.  I think prayer may make the one who is praying feel better but that's about it.

I did tell some people, "Pray if you want, and I appreciate positive thoughts, but please know that my dad is an atheist's atheist."  It's the smarmy ones that get me.  People who KNOW me and are actually trying to get a message to me about what they are doing or want to do to help me said things like, "Is there anything I can do?"  "Please know I am here for you."  etc. no matter what their religious beliefs.  

Either way, when my dad died, I was grateful for every minute I spent with him throughout the process.  I wish there had been more good moments but I was grateful for the suffering to end.  God, heaven, and belief meant nothing.  One minute my father was breathing and then he wasn't.  This was between me and my father.  It didn't matter what anybody said.  I no longer cared whether or not anybody prayed or told me about it if they did.  

All that being said, it is difficult to know what to say, when to say it, and to whom to say it.  I tried to find a balance somewhere between saying nothing and saving my energy, and speaking up for myself and my dad.  I did try to not be a jerk about it.  My anger would have been misdirected towards the hapless sayer of prayers and away from the nameless and empty void left when life does what it does.  

I really will be thinking of you and your family.  I know this is a very difficult part of life to go through.  

I think that part of me always thought that if something like this happened in our family, I would fall back to my upbringing.  That I would begin to plead with a god I didn't believe in or start praying and making deals.  You know the one if you make him well again, I will go back to church, I will be a believer again.

The truth is that my conversation is so complete, that the thought hasn't crossed my mind now that it has really happened to our family.  The only time I do think about it, is when others bring it up.  I also sense that this is solidifying for my parents that there really aren't gods, just the here and now.

I guess there are atheists in foxholes, huh?

Thank you for your thoughts and I am sorry for your loss.  

You're welcome, and thank you.  

My dying mother and I became atheists together during her final year. We were always very close, however while going through this epiphany together we were never closer. The most beautiful part was that there was no third supernatural party to blame or plead to. It was just a loving mother and her son celebrating the beauty, purity and preciousness of human life on earth.

Thank you for your words.  I truly understand what you mean about a third party in the middle of this time.  It simply isn't needed for me to understand what is happening or to make sense of it all.

When my father was dying from a second massive stroke..... I still held out a tiny bit of hope beyond hope that the physical body can sometimes recover from seemingly impossible situations.  In that sense I was hoping for a miracle.     I honestly wished there was some power in the petitioning mind,, some kind of energy transfer... some kind of cumulative energy that could heal if we just prayed for it hard enough...

While miracles don't happen, other things can. A bad diagnosis. A malfunction of testing equipment. Mixed up tests. And then sometimes the human body's defenses find a way to fight off a condition which is fatal to almost everyone.

One can hope for it. There's nothing wrong with that. It's only human.


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