Updated: Feb 1
Often when you leave the IFB, you lose your family, friends, and community. How do you mourn those who are still alive?
According to a WebMD survey, one of the most common sources of grief is the loss of a relationship with a person who’s still alive.
Whether you left of your own choice or were ex-communicated, when you are out the IFB you lose most of the people you care about. You are shunned and made to feel that the only way back in is to fall back into line. Love is only offered to you after your repentance.
Most will lose their parents and siblings if they are still members of the IFB. Classmates that you went to Christian school with will distance themselves as well as any friends you had in your church. You often find yourself all alone, scared, and worried if you did the right thing.
This is like most cults who demand complete obedience and turning your back on those no longer in it. Unlike grieving the death of someone you love, this is knowing they are still around and choosing not to be in your life.
The question then becomes...how do you mourn the loss of the living?
Take time to feel it
When you lose someone, you go through the usual steps of grief. This is grief. This is loss. It needs to be addressed. No more attending family gatherings, welcoming new babies, or having your birthday celebrated. You have been told that you are only loved if you do what the IFB wants. It can trigger self-doubt of why am I not good enough to be loved? What is wrong with me that I can't just stay in the IFB and be happy? Get angry. Feel hurt. Feel abandoned. Feel lost. You have the absolute right to feel all these things.
Write them a letter
Don't worry, you're not going to send it to them but take some time to really write out your thoughts and feelings. Be specific on how this situation is making you feel. Don't hold back or edit yourself. Write out what you wish your relationship could be like if they were not in the IFB. Tell them that you still love them. Then either put the letter away or make a ceremony out of it. Light a small fire and burn the letter while saying "I release you. I love you and wish you nothing but good things. Now, I have to move on."
Avoid social media
Going on their pages and seeing their posts is not going to help you at all. Just don't do it. You'll see pictures of your family at Christmas without you all smiling and looking so happy. We all know that is normally not the case when you live and breathe IFB. Don't post on their pages either. If they want nothing to do with you....respect it. There are a few good support groups on Facebook that is full of people who have left the IFB. Seek those people out and share resources you've found that are helping you heal.
Learn to let it go
It takes time to work through grief even if the person is still alive. Take the time and do the work but at some time it is healthy for you to just accept the loss and move on. If you spend time filled with anger, you only hurt yourself. Pretty sure that those you love who are still in the IFB are praying for your return whether in prayer meetings, private devotions, or prayer chains. Do the same by either praying for them to open their eyes or just sending them good energy. You can still love them from afar. It is sad to think that because you made a choice that was right for your life, they chose the church over you. But that's their choice and in time whether here on Earth or beyond, they will realize what a mistake it was to turn their backs on their loved one.
Losing your sense of family and community is never easy. However, it doesn't have to be the end of the world. It is simply the end of the world you knew and the start of a world that can be filled with people who love you as you are and not based on the choices you make with your religion.
IFB Overcomers is an online resource for those who have left Independent Fundamentalism and are looking to heal and discover themselves. With a podcast, webinars, forum, blog and resources, we hope to help retrain your heart and mind from the mindset of the IFB and help you not only survive but overcome and then thrive!