Grief and Believer Envy
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16-10-2013, 11:33 PM
Grief and Believer Envy
I don't often find myself in a position where I envy believers, but that's where I found myself last week.

I'm not what I could call "out" about my beliefs. I don't hide them, but I don't make them public either. I just go about my life. The only exception to that rule has been when I'm around my family.

My family are strong believers, and any questions posed by me regarding "The Faith" have been quickly reprimanded. It didn't take long to stop asking, but questions no longer asked don't mean questions no longer had. I lost my faith in silence, and my family has been blissfully unaware for close to 30 years. This has been made easy by distance, as I now live on one side of the country and my family lives on the other.

Last week, my Dad died.

The rest of my family gathered and held hands and said prayers. Of course I was included because my religious status is unknown to them, but it didn't make me feel like any less the outsider. There were constant allusions to my father being an angel, stories about what he must have said when he met Saint Peter, and questions about what kind of mischief he and his brother and sister are getting into right at that moment.

I think that thinking Dad is just somewhere else and he's happy makes the grief easier for them to deal with. He was a man of faith, so he must be in Heaven.

Of course, I don't believe that. There is no God. There is no Heaven. My Dad is gone. Forever.

I admit that I'm more than a little jealous of my family in this case. I wish what they believed were true. If it was true, he'd be somewhere else, and he'd be happy. The Universe would feel like a better place for me knowing that he was still in it, somewhere. That would make me happy even though I'd be destined for Hell.
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16-10-2013, 11:45 PM
RE: Grief and Believer Envy
Sorry for your loss.

I had the roughly the same experience when my sister died. Lots of pious crap about better places and God's marvelous plan. To me... there is a lot of my sister still in the world, lots of lives she touched, lots of thoughts she had which still influence me...

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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17-10-2013, 12:02 AM
RE: Grief and Believer Envy
Quote:I admit that I'm more than a little jealous of my family in this case.

First of all, my condolences for your loss. My dad died a couple of years ago and even though he was a 93 year old dementia patient it still wasn't easy.

Are you jealous of their delusions?

[Image: reality.jpg?imgmax=800]
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17-10-2013, 12:09 AM
RE: Grief and Believer Envy
There's a lot of truth to the statement "ignorance is bliss".

Along with their ability at this moment to rejoice for your father's soul in heaven to help cope with the grief, there is still the abject fear and uncertainty that comes with belief in every other waking moment of their lives. It's the same "what if I'm wrong" feeling that every single person has, no matter how convicted they are in whatever they hold to be true about the afterlife. When death is real and in their face, the only reaction that will suffice for their faith is to profess these things as much and as loudly as they can. It's helpful for them to be able to deal with the loss.

You, on the other hand, have to accept reality. It's a bit harder, especially because you can't join in with your family in this particular way. But in the end your conscience will be clearer, and you can rest assured that your father is at peace. Just as he was before he was born.

Sorry about your loss. Hug

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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17-10-2013, 01:47 AM
RE: Grief and Believer Envy
There is still the legacy of your father, the memories, his impact on his impressionable children, his impact on his friends, family and acquaintances. Even though he is no longer here to enjoy life, he has left a lasting impression, a legacy, no doubt.
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17-10-2013, 02:57 AM
RE: Grief and Believer Envy
Sorry to hear your loss,
I think of funerals as a cultural tradition, and while you don't believe the prays, they still should symbolism thoughts for the past life. and let people who need that crutch lean on their faith, there is enough scientific evidence to prove placebos do work emotionally.

You don't need God to a have a good grief wake with friends and family together.
The people left behind are his afterlife.

Theism is to believe what other people claim, Atheism is to ask "why should I".
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17-10-2013, 04:24 AM
RE: Grief and Believer Envy
(16-10-2013 11:33 PM)ArchAtheistMichael Wrote:  Of course, I don't believe that. There is no God. There is no Heaven. My Dad is gone. Forever.

He is gone forever only from your perspective. The laws of physics suggest he still exists. As Einstein put it in a letter to Michele Besso, "People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."

Now if you want a dumbed down version of what Einstein was talking about.....watch this short 10 minute video:



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17-10-2013, 04:47 AM
Grief and Believer Envy
I am sorry about your loss. Your father's spirit still lives on. Some people believe ths literally. You and I
believe this more metaphorically. His legacy is still there. You still remember him and are
still influenced by him in some way.
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17-10-2013, 05:08 AM
RE: Grief and Believer Envy
He is actually not gone on yet another level.

For many years he was a constant part of your life, and all of those years are recorded in your brain.

For the rest of your life, your brain will cross-reference everything that happens in the present with everything that happened in the past. When it comes across something that appears to be relevant, it pushes it to your consciousness for your consideration.

There will be occasions where you will be conscious of your dad "helping" with your decision making. There will be countless occasions where he does so without your being aware.

So, in a way, significant people in your life never die. The old cliché that they live on in you is actually true on a very real level. Should you want his opinion on something, just think about it and your brain will pull up all related experiences with him and serve you a pretty good answer.

Being aware of that beats the notion that he's sitting on a cloud playing a harp by miles, don't you think?

Of course he can't be either happy nor unhappy nor anything else now, but if he had his druthers, do you think he would pick a cloud or being a part of your life?

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Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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17-10-2013, 05:39 AM
RE: Grief and Believer Envy
Sorry to hear about your dad.

My dad died in March of 2011. I was very close to my dad, closer than I was/am to other relatives.

Stuff with my family was similar, they had a funeral with lots of singing and prayers in a Catholic church.

However, I often wonder if it really *is* easier for believers, or they just make a big show of it, telling each other "he's in a better place." It all sounds like empty platitudes to me. For one thing, believers grieve. Why would they do that if they didn't think the person had died? I think there is a lot of cognitive dissonance going on. I think the ceremony of it all is important to a lot of people, it's a rite of passage, the funeral and the service. It helps them to accept he's not a part of their life anymore (in the sense of interacting with them, anyway) and move on.

I had a helluva time trying to convince my (atheist) brother to come to my dad's funeral, he said it was all pointless shit and there was no sense in going. As it turned out, we both went, and both behaved respectfully enough well it came to the religious aspects, but that was because we were thinking of it as a sort of symbolic thing, not a literal "he is in heaven now and looking at us" thing.

Quote: To me... there is a lot of my sister still in the world, lots of lives she touched, lots of thoughts she had which still influence me...
This is how I feel about my dad. And it's more comforting to me to know that, than to lie to myself to say he's on a cloud having tea and crumpets with Jesus.
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