Kyle Cupp has a heartrending piece up at The Daily Beast in which he discusses the death of his daughter and his subsequent loss of faith:
In the months following the death of our newborn daughter, I had remained steadfast in my faith, devout and prayerful. I had not for years imagined God primarily as a figure of power, like some cosmic orchestrator of all that is, so I did not feel inclined to blame God for our loss and our sorrow. I didn’t have an answer for it, but I didn’t look to God for an answer. I didn’t expect such a response. I let God be.
As time passed, however, my faith weakened. I lost the feeling of God’s presence and the impetus to pray, and perhaps as a consequence, the ideas I had of God began to make less and less sense to me. I lost clarity of what I believed, finally confessing to my wife late one evening that I couldn’t honestly say whether or not I still believed in God. This was not a confession that brought us peace. A cloud of unknowing separated me from the words of the creed I recited at Mass, and on that evening, sitting close to the love of my life, staring into her misty eyes, I feared that it would separate me from her as well.
To make matters worse, I had no answers to give her. I couldn’t explain my lapse. I couldn’t point to any decisive event, something that had pushed me off the precipice. Instead, as we reflected back on the previous months and years, I felt as though once solid ground had changed into the wisps of a cloud without my having noticed, and only now did I realize that I was falling. If my broken heart was to blame, it has taken its bitter time, acting stealthily.
I hadn’t fallen into unbelief or atheism, exactly, but more of an agnosticism or skepticism about what I believed and whether I believed. I could no longer say what my faith, such as it was, meant in my life. I no longer had a sure sense of how the Christian story was true. I couldn’t answer where its myths ended and reality began. Occasionally I shot a few words of prayer in what I hoped was the direction of an unseen God, but I struggled and doubted even these simple practices of my faith. Neither Paul nor Kierkegaard were kidding when they wrote of fear and trembling.
Go here to read the rest. Only someone who has lost a child can comprehend what a soulrending experience it is. As a sad member of that club I can understand anyone doubting anything after going through that abyss of grief. However, like most things in life, such grief impacts people in different ways. For me, my faith was how I made sense of that tragedy when my son Larry died last year. I took as my theme during those horrible days the words written in Job: “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
My attitude towards God going into the tragedy differed from that of Kyle, and perhaps that helps explain how we responded differently. To me God’s name “I AM” says it all. All of creation exists only because God wills it to be so for His purposes, and these purposes are usually inscrutable to Man. For His purposes he chose to bring into existence my son, and for His purposes He determined his span of life and took him from the World at a time of His choosing on Pentecost Sunday last year.
Kyle says that he does not feel the presence of God and that has not been my experience. During my son’s funeral mass I suddenly felt an inexplicable wave of peace and joy pass over me, and I knew that Larry was giving me some minute particle of the peace and joy that he was now experiencing in the Beatific Vision.
My grief for my son is still vast, if not the searing flame that I experienced in the months immediately following his death, but I have no doubt that Larry lived for a purpose and died for a purpose, all by the will of God, and I am content. My prayers for Kyle on his trek through this Vale of Tears without such a belief.