About the death of my parents: Grieving as atheist
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19-01-2012, 02:37 PM
About the death of my parents: Grieving as atheist
I don't ask much...
A simple text message on my cellphone would suffice...

*beepbeep*beepbeep*

Hi Son. We arrived safely. It’s so beautiful here. Dad's already taking a stroll. See you. :-x

It would reassure me and help me to continue with the rest of the following 50 years...
A simple less then .05 cent SMS...
I promise I wont reply...

It will never come...



Grief and sadness is a cowardly enemy, taking you by surprise while seeing everyday objects or mundane situations. A man with glasses and white hair waiting for the bus... Al older lady walking a baby stroller... Smelling fresh baked waffles...
At that moment, I can become overwhelmed with sadness and an unignorable feeling of miss.

In one of our sessions, my therapist, tried to check whether I was open to the idea of something like "an afterlife". She knew beforehand that I'm a moderator on an atheism forum so I don't think she expected much. The best she could say was: "Well It’s never proven that there isn’t an afterlife". "True... But I'm sorry I can't find comfort in that idea miss. It simply doesn't work that way. The practical impossibility of that concept makes it impossible for me to accept that."


We atheists make big mistakes sometimes!

Not in answering the question whether everything religion claims is true. That question is perhaps the most boring stuff about the whole debate.
We made the mistake of trying to replace one claim 1 on 1 with an other. It’s a fallacy. Let me explain.

If you where really into religion, like I was, and you abandon the idea, you're left with a void. Of course, I always liked the idea of the world being ruled by an all powerful and good being as a kid. Who wouldn’t, the appeal is clear. Now that I left the idea behind, I've managed to find 1 on 1 answers to most of the questions I found answers on while I was still religious. Where do we come from? What’s the meaning of all this? What is morality? (some answers I found in this community). The afterlife question remained open, but in a grim twist of fate, has became the most urgent now.

This is where I failed.

I've tried for a while to find an atheistic concept of an afterlife. A one on one replacement. That doesn’t work. But its damn hard, realising I'll never get to see mom or dad again. Never hearing mom's comforting words or dad's philosophical good advice.

I sat down and thought about what I do have left.
Peopole... a lot of peopole.
Aunt Elisa, Who lost her son, husband and both her brother and sister in law over a timespan of two years.
Peter, farmer, hardened by life, crying like a schoolboy, claiming he lost his second dad.
Dad's friend, simply not knowing what to do or how to behave.
Rob, Dad's friend and colleague, I once said that one day, I want to become like him. (reminds me that I need to say that to him personally before it’s too late) Often calling me to see how I'm doing.
People on this site, I never met them in real life, often sending PM's out of genuine interest, just to check on me.
My supporting wife, her dad died years ago, she found a new one in mine.
My daughter, ever cheerful and happy in her naivity
My best friend Erik, I know him from since I was 4. Upon hearing the news he called me to ask me if he could do something. Called me five minutes later saying. C'mon... SURELY there must be SOMETHING I can do.
...
..
.

The list is seemingly endless.

All the good aspects of my parents are distributed in all these different people.

Yes...
Mom and dad continue to exist. Not as themselves any more, but as a collection of the loving and gentle people they befriended during their life.


In the days following the tragedy, it came to my attention that many of them came to me seeking the comfort I myself was expecting to search. This showed me the value of their being and presence. Not one quoted the bible. Not one claimed it was an act of God...They comforted me simply by being there. Simply by showing they where as shocked as I was. People... even some I never met before... people caring for people and genuinely showing empathy. If that isn’t divinity, it comes pretty damn close.

Although I know I will never see them again, I know that one day, I will stop missing my parents. One day, I really DO join them.
Then, other people will miss me, and seek comfort in each others presence.


It’s divine!




About the death of my parents: The murder

About the death of my parents: The funeral
About the death of my parents: The aftermath
About the death of my parents: The Letter

Observer

Agnostic atheist
Secular humanist
Emotional rationalist
Disclaimer: Don’t mix the personal opinion above with the absolute and objective truth. Remember to think for yourself. Thank you.
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19-01-2012, 03:16 PM
RE: About the death of my parents: Grieving as atheist
You're awesome man. Seriously.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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19-01-2012, 03:28 PM
RE: About the death of my parents: Grieving as atheist
Now THAT is the shit that inspires people.

Proud to call you a friend man.

So many cats, so few good recipes.
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19-01-2012, 03:29 PM
RE: About the death of my parents: Grieving as atheist
You have your memories and the memories of all who knew them. That is our afterlife.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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19-01-2012, 04:07 PM
RE: About the death of my parents: Grieving as atheist
Hi T_O,
I don't know if we ever stop missing the loved ones we lose, but we do get to a place where the loss becomes less painful. There's a wonderful quote which says, "Remember me and smile, for it's better to forget, than to remember me and cry." That will be a place I hope you come to.
I'm glad you're taking care of your self and the loved ones all around you. Everything you said is so very true. The greater the void we feel from loss, we have each other to help us fill it.
Heart Humans are about each other.
Stay well.

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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19-01-2012, 04:55 PM
RE: About the death of my parents: Grieving as atheist
(19-01-2012 04:07 PM)kim Wrote:  I don't know if we ever stop missing the loved ones we lose,
We do Kim...

That exact moment we die ourself...

Observer

Agnostic atheist
Secular humanist
Emotional rationalist
Disclaimer: Don’t mix the personal opinion above with the absolute and objective truth. Remember to think for yourself. Thank you.
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19-01-2012, 04:56 PM
RE: About the death of my parents: Grieving as atheist
You might not stop missing them but you will definitely stop crying at some point, will get used to them not being there. You will certainly still have a heavy feeling in your chest sometimes but I suppose it will get easier.
I hope you get a little comfort from the people in this forum, too. You are sharing a lot here so hopefully it helps in some way.

"Freedom is the freedom to say that 2+2=4" - George Orwell (in 1984)
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19-01-2012, 06:35 PM
RE: About the death of my parents: Grieving as atheist
Oh great. Now I'm tearing up at work!! -gets under desk-
You express yourself so beautifully.
Yes, eventually you won't be as sad but, as you well know, it's necessary to grieve when you feel the need.
You are right - it's the only part of being atheist that sometimes can be the most difficult IMO. (I think that is a huge part of why religion was created in the first place - because of difficulty of accepting we just die and there's no more) It's the only part I have probs with occasionally (not so much anymore tho).
Take care of yourself Heart

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19-01-2012, 07:35 PM
RE: About the death of my parents: Grieving as atheist
(19-01-2012 04:56 PM)Leela Wrote:  You might not stop missing them but you will definitely stop crying at some point

Maybe. My dad died suddenly in 1985 and I still tear up over it most days of the week. The hurt hasn't gotten any less over the last 25 years, and that includes 10 years of general therapy.

I don't think there's a need to stop the missing or the crying. I think the lesson for atheists is that life and the people we love are more precious because we know we'll only have them in this life.
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19-01-2012, 11:39 PM
RE: About the death of my parents: Grieving as atheist
Thank you so much for your amazing outlook and thoughts. Wow. Heart wrenching and beautiful. You are brave.
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