Atheist Grieving - A tad heavy with perhaps some triggers
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28-01-2012, 12:21 AM
Atheist Grieving - A tad heavy with perhaps some triggers
I wasn't sure where to put this...but it was something that I was struggling with and have been DESPERATE to find support or advice where I can. I found The Thinking Atheist podcast and one topic in particular gave me the courage to reach out.

Grieving without God.

This past July 4th, a beloved member of my family took her own life.

My family is very religious and also likes to pretend that bad things just go away if we ignore them. Her memorial was VERY focused on Jesus and god and heaven, and I realized that I felt nothing resembling 'comfort' from it. I've been struggling ever since to come to terms and deal with it properly, and what's worse, the family just wants to ignore it.

I have lost family before, but this death has effected me in profound ways that I have never experienced. I used to struggle with my own beliefs, leaning towards being a Deist rather than Theist but on the worst days a complete Atheist. I was never comfortable or sure, or willing to speak up, but this death has changed everything for me.

And while it is wonderful and liberating, it is also crushing me, and I feel so alone.

So I guess I'm reaching out for anyone that might have had a similar experience or perhaps advice about dealing this this kind of thing? I welcome any and all discussion on the topic.

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28-01-2012, 02:25 AM
RE: Atheist Grieving - A tad heavy with perhaps some triggers
Welcome to the forums, I see this is your first post.

It's very different when you start seeing the world through the eyes of an atheist or agnostic instead of a theist for the first time.

It almost seems like when grieving for someone when you are no longer a believer, you feel like all the religious crud spoken is sort of a lie and not comforting since you aren't really speaking your mind.

I always try and remember the fantastic memories I had, the good times I had and celebrate the life they lived that I will remember them by. We get one shot at this, make it the best you can. For theists, people who won't get it from your perspective, there's no reason to hate them for their own grieving. After all, they are grieving the way they understand things. There's nothing wrong with grieving in your own way as well though.

Always learn from others, they got one shot, they aren't with us. We can always remember them though. Learn things from them, carry on what they taught us, the good things they brought for us.

I'm sorry to hear of your loss.
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28-01-2012, 03:34 AM
RE: Atheist Grieving - A tad heavy with perhaps some triggers
My condolences for your loss. I understand the emotional tragedy of death, but I have never walked in your shoes. The important thing to remember is that you have the gift of feelings.

One thing I have always kept in mind is that memorial services and funerals are for the living...

We're human! We feel emotional pain and suffering when loved ones die. The cleric is tasked to give us emotional support and a warm fuzzy about the here-after. But I have found that I'm happier looking at humankind as cells that disintegrate at the blink of an eye. Therefore, the gift I can live with are the memories of good times that were shared with this loved one.

Don't try to feel they pain they were feeling before they died - it's their pain, not yours. You have a whole different kind of pain to deal with but it's your pain to tuck away and bring out when you want to 'remember sad times'. But there is happiness of an equal or greater amount to go with that pain. So why not bring the happiness of good memories out? Makes living much easier and after all, time does heal.

You have to do some living of your own. Along your path of life, you will be able to help someone else deal with tragedy - human to human. It's all a part of life, and nothing more.

"I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders...
Thanks for getting off my back!"
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28-01-2012, 05:04 AM
RE: Atheist Grieving - A tad heavy with perhaps some triggers
I'm sorry about your loss NeonMoment

I have verry little time at the moment but I will get back to you, I promise.

Maybe you can read what happened to me 3 months ago.


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
About the death of my parents: Grieving as atheist

See you. I hope to get back at you this evening.

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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28-01-2012, 07:23 AM
RE: Atheist Grieving - A tad heavy with perhaps some triggers
Sorry for you loss.

For me the inevitability of death is the most difficult part of being an atheist. That is the one time I imagine it is very nice to have a belief in an afterlife. After all an atheist can't look to the sky and talk to their loved one, can't kneel down and pray for comfort, or think they will see this person again when they too die. We understand that death is the final act.

When I was 11-years-old my mother die of cancer. I remember her funeral and all the well-meaning people telling me "she was in a better place". As a child all I could think was what could be better than with us? I suppose I never really bought into religion even then.

So what do I think of? Memories. I remember when my Mom used to rub my hair while she sat on the couch and me on the floor. I remember coming home from school and seeing her in the kitchen with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich ready to go. I remember her bundling me up to go play in the snow and giving me a kiss on my nose as she put on my hat. With those memories I realize how fortunate I was to have her in my life at all. In turn I make every opportunity to create memories that my children will remember when I pass. It's not uncommon to see me with my digital camera and video camera taking shots of the most mundane thing knowing that these times are precious and few.

I want to thank you for bringing this topic up as I will now head to the closet and look through some old photo albums and rejoice in the memories. Take care.

.
I wasn't . . . until I was
I am . . . until I'm not
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28-01-2012, 07:47 AM
RE: Atheist Grieving - A tad heavy with perhaps some triggers
(28-01-2012 05:04 AM)The_observer Wrote:  I'm sorry about your loss NeonMoment

I have verry little time at the moment but I will get back to you, I promise.

Maybe you can read what happened to me 3 months ago.


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
About the death of my parents: Grieving as atheist

See you. I hope to get back at you this evening.

My grief feels so horribly unworthy at this point. I know Seth has said that the words often come out empty, but I am sorry for what was wrongly taken from you. I hope that man pays for his crimes as much as is allowed and never makes anyone else go through that pain ever again.

I thank you so much for sharing your story with me, and I look forward to talking to you more when you are free.


And to everyone else, I am so thankful for the good responses you've given, and it does help.

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28-01-2012, 11:59 AM
RE: Atheist Grieving - A tad heavy with perhaps some triggers
We all feel bad for any time these things happen and I'm glad observer has shared with you his exhaustive recent experience. I have a question for you. Since the funeral was taken away from you have you ever spent a day saying goodbye to her? You can do the things she would do, or the two of you together. Live out the best moments. Or sped a day with people she knows who aren't quite satisfied yet.

Oftentimes the hardest part to get past in loss is the last moment. So make one that you can accept. You'll always carry it, but I'm sure you know that no one would want to be a burden on you. So let her weight feel unto a feather on your mind. She'll always be in your mind, it's up to you what impact that makes.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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28-01-2012, 02:13 PM (This post was last modified: 28-01-2012 02:17 PM by kim.)
RE: Atheist Grieving - A tad heavy with perhaps some triggers
Hello NeonMoment - Welcome to the forum.

I'm so sorry for the tragic loss you've experienced. It seems your pain might be magnified by your family's inability to come to terms with it. Suicide is perhaps the most difficult kind of death experience for people to understand. Grieving is a process of focusing on feelings, giving those feelings meaning, and understanding where to put those feelings. It is not easy with a sudden death, but suicide... is such unknown territory.

It may be that you and your family are unable to focus on any particular feelings connected with your loved one's death, because no one completely knows what happened. The fact that she wanted no involvement from others seems so final. This is perhaps the most shocking blow. You have been forced to come to the understanding that your loved one took charge of her life and ended it. One can never know what is going one in another's mind.

Of the feelings coming to the surface, those feelings themselves can cause guilt; anger, helplessness, selfishness, guilt again... layer upon layer, until it just can't be thought about anymore. It is why people just don't talk about it. To actually pick through all these feelings and emotions can be so very personal. Some feel it might be just too personal to discuss or these feeling might further hurt others. But it does help to process these feelings by discussing them with others -discussion, not judgement which many fear.

Again, one can never know what is going on in another's mind. That is the only way I know how to say that. I have to remind myself of that almost every time I speak with anyone. For some reason, just knowing that helps me to understand that we are all so very human, and so very fragile.

One can not know another's mind, but you can sort out the feelings in your own mind. It will take time, a lot of understanding, and patience - give that to yourself as much as others. Take care of your physical and mental health; get plenty of rest, exercise, and eat well. I might suggest speaking with a therapist or grief counselor and of course, if you need to discuss your feelings here, you are completely welcome to do so. For a motley bunch of Atheists, many of us seem to be pretty good listeners. Shy


Heart Once again, welcome to the forum, NeonMoment.

I think in the end, I just feel like I'm a secular person who has a skeptical eye toward any extraordinary claim, carefully examining any extraordinary evidence before jumping to conclusions. ~ Eric ~ My friend ... who figured it out.
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28-01-2012, 04:51 PM (This post was last modified: 28-01-2012 05:11 PM by Observer.)
RE: Atheist Grieving - A tad heavy with perhaps some triggers
First off, you are not alone in your search.
On this site alone there are several members, including me, who struggle with such question. I found myself a pretty decent answer but I's very personal and probably won't work for every situation.

I'll spare you the translation (it’s silly) but, over here we have a saying that tells us I am not allowed to fill in an emotion for someone else. I am in no position to tell you how you should react on a certain emotion, nor to judge you over it.
The thing is, the same counts for the person you lost. We cannot tell them the emotions they "suffered" from where insufficient to do what they did for.

I don't know what your relationship was with that person. Whether you took responsibility for him/her or not. Seeing your struggle makes me think you did. I can imagine your suffering from so much unanswered questions and feelings of guilt.

Correct me if I'm wrong.
Do you want me to split the Egor post and the discussion that follows from it out of this tread?
(She replied "Yes". Done here)

Observer

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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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28-01-2012, 04:56 PM
RE: Atheist Grieving - A tad heavy with perhaps some triggers
(28-01-2012 04:51 PM)The_observer Wrote:  First off, you are not alone in your search.
On this site alone there are several members, including me, who struggle with such question. I found myself a pretty decent answer but I's very personal and probably won't work for every situation.

I'll spare you the translation (it’s silly) but, over here we have a saying that tells us I am not allowed to fill in an emotion for someone else. I am in no position to tell you how you should react on a certain emotion, nor to judge you over it.
The thing is, the same counts for the person you lost. We cannot tell them the emotions they "suffered" from where insufficient to do what they did for.

I don't know what your relationship was with that person. Whether you took responsibility for him/her or not. Seeing your struggle makes me think you did. I can imagine your suffering from so much unanswered questions and feelings of guilt.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

She was my cousin. Much older than me, and I didn't see her as often as I would have liked, but after the circumstances of her death were completely investigated, I think everyone felt like they could have done something. I just keep thinking I wish I had called her that day to see how she was and talk. If there is something I could have said to change her mind.

And I know I have to find the answers for myself...it is only that I have finally realized after so long that being quiet about what I believe and quiet about my grief isn't the solution, even if that's what my family expects from me.

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