Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Grief Is A Bitch

When our good family friend passed away, I wanted to die so that I could be with her. I was angry, upset and depressed and I cried for about 6 months. Cleaning out her house and having the burden of going through her things and deciding what to do with everything took a toll on my emotional well being. This was long before I realized that I was an atheist.

That all came back when I received a call that my good friend of over 30 years lost her brother. Their family is very religious and they would be somewhat disappointed in the route I've taken. I used to go to church with them on holidays and they were a very positive influence on me from the ages of 14 to 18. Although they'd probably forgive me, I keep my feelings and opinions a secret from them.

Losing a friend is never easy but when they are only 45 years old, it makes me really mad and upset. When I spoke to the father of the friend who passed away today, he said over and over again how he finds peace and comfort in knowing that his son is with the Lord and God. His sister has said the same thing on facebook.

Where do atheists find peace and comfort in death? Because once again, I'm just sad, angry and upset.

17 comments:

evolveintobirds said...

Speaking for myself...I am comforted by the idea of non-existence. Life has some great moments but my life has also had more than it's fair share of bad moments. The concept of a heaven spent praising a god or a hell of grief or punishment sounds like more of the same of the bad parts of this life to me.

Xavier Onassis said...

There is no comfort in death.

There is only loss, comforting memories, and as evolveintobirds said, the peace of non-existence.

Green-Eyed Momster said...

Thanks E and XO,
I appreciate you.

Fiery said...

Death sucks and it is rarely fair. It is the end of opportunity.

As an atheist there is no comfort that they "are in a better place". There is also no fear that they will "suffer for all eternity". For the deceased, there is oblivion. For those still living, there are memories and lessons.

The memories of all that you shared with the person who is gone and the lessons you can learn from them.

The person lives on, in you. In the decisions you make that are influenced by them. Whether it is the things you wish they had done differently and so you do them differently, or the decisions that they would have wanted you to make, advised you to make, or would have bullied you into doing what is best for you.

The acute pain will subside, the sense of loss and regret will diminish, but it will never vanish. It will become a part of you.

Peace and comfort comes from sharing memories with others and time.

Sending hugs and warm thoughts your way.

Fiery said...

Basically what XO said, but longer and more Rafiki.
8-)

Green-Eyed Momster said...

Thanks Fiery!
Hugs and love!

Robert the Skeptic said...

My loss of faith has evolved over time, though looking back as a child, I was a doubter from an early age.

Some find comfort in the idea that we will live on forever... but what could that possibly be like? In heaven supposedly there is no pain or suffering. Many people find meaning in life by helping others, professionally, or as volunteers. But in Heaven no one needs help, you can't have the satisfaction of making things better because everything is already perfect.

Will my Mother look old and with gray hair or will she be young and beautiful like before I was born and knew her.

I find the whole concept of Heaven or afterlife very disturbing and not comforting at all.

The questions go on and on. For me, a believer friend summed it all up when she said: "The more you think about it, the harder it is to believe." Her course was to choose not to think. But if God made us, wouldn't he want us to use the brain he gave us?

I see no evidence of a God of universe, and my readings have convinced me that the Bible (all religious texts) are the work of man, not God.

I find my comfort in the predictability of the Universe, and the finiteness of life makes it precious.

Laura said...

how are you doing now?

Snowbrush said...

I don't find comfort and peace in death, although, at age 60 and in failing health, I am beginning to see how one could. That aside, if you don't believe, then you DON'T believe, and doing as I have so often done, and trying to beat religion down my own throat so that I might be comforted, only makes life harder than it already is.

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Anonymous said...

It seems that peace is found in who or what we put our faith in. Faith in a non-existent afterlife makes us feel better, but also insignificant, without purpose, without belonging, and ultimately not safe in this universe. I am not proselytizing here, but the logic of a non-existent afterlife is incredibly depressing, and would make this life very pointless, random, and lead to hedonism...which is cool, but also self-centered and empty. Trying to find true peace in a non-existent afterlife seems impossible for people who live in real life. Real life with peace demands purpose, significance, belonging, safety, and understanding...we all put our faith in someone or something to try and find peace. If you can't find lasting peace in a non-existent afterlife, put your logical and faith in something else.

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Murr Brewster said...

For some reason I get over deaths pretty quickly. I'm sad, but not angry or upset. It has something to do with the idea that nothing has been done TO me. To be blunt, my life lesson is "shit happens" and some of it happens in my vicinity. To be angry about it suggests there is such a thing as justice and fairness, when as far as I can tell no one is in charge, benevolent or otherwise. I'm very comfortable with ambiguity and comfortable with not having answers, especially since for the most part I'm not even asking the questions. I could imagine that if I believed in a being that was dedicated to my personal well-being, I might feel let down. But I don't think I'm all that special. I'm an insignificant speck who is thrilled to have this mysterious life.

I don't think it's in good form, necessarily, to throw out links in someone else's comment section, but I write a humor blog in which I posted one serious essay only, and it's germane to this subject. It is here: http://murrbrewster.blogspot.com/2009/11/thanksgiving.html

Murr Brewster said...

For some reason I get over deaths pretty quickly. I'm sad, but not angry or upset. It has something to do with the idea that nothing has been done TO me. To be blunt, my life lesson is "shit happens" and some of it happens in my vicinity. To be angry about it suggests there is such a thing as justice and fairness, when as far as I can tell no one is in charge, benevolent or otherwise. I'm very comfortable with ambiguity and comfortable with not having answers, especially since for the most part I'm not even asking the questions. I could imagine that if I believed in a being that was dedicated to my personal well-being, I might feel let down. But I don't think I'm all that special. I'm an insignificant speck who is thrilled to have this mysterious life.

I don't think it's in good form, necessarily, to throw out links in someone else's comment section, but I write a humor blog in which I posted one serious essay only, and it's germane to this subject. It is here: http://murrbrewster.blogspot.com/2009/11/thanksgiving.html

yelaklleps said...

I'm sure this will get backlash. But I am a believer, a Christian. So I can't really understand where you're coming from. I have lost quite a few people who were really dear to me. I find peace and comfort in knowing "that they're with the Lord,etc etc..." and ultimately peace comes. I do believe that my peace comes from the Lord. Anything else labeled as "peace" isn't really peace. I am so sorry for your loss and know that greiving is natural and normal. It takes time...different amounts for different people. Some people never find peace, I pray that you do. I have been told that I am delusional and that my faith is a crutch, and if so then so be it. I need something to hold me up because I am weak whether I am grieving or not. Please please, if you do find peace I want to know. So far I have found it in nothing else.

Teri said...

I'm a christian and I think that the "find comfort and joy in the fact that our lost loved ones are in a better place "is a bunch of crap. A lot of christians may get on my case about my feelings, but I'm also willing to bet that they've never had a grandson die in the arms of someone during dinner. Or a mother that was killed by the doctor she went to for freaking stitches! And how can one take comfort in the fact that 2 of my daughter's babies were each born three months early? I do believe that there is a plan, or maybe I just tell myself that. I've separated myself from church for the last four years or so. I cannot take the hypocrisy of so many of the people that I meet. And I can't stand those that ask for information so that they "can know how to pray"! They're digging, ready to gossip. If I want someone to know something I'll tell them. As for my faith, I do believe. In one sense I kinda feel like what do I have to lose? If some people are right I have nothing to lose, but if my faith is right I have a lot to lose....does that even make sense?
I believe but I certainly don't understand. Sorry If I offended any of you, it certainly was not my intention.

Teri said...

I think I forgot to mention the intense anger and resentment I feel because Isaiah and mom were basically killed by negligence and that my dad sufferd so much that he died of a broken heart. It all pisses me off!