I don't think religion is effective at helping people cope with death
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02-01-2016, 03:58 PM
I don't think religion is effective at helping people cope with death
I have been an atheist for most of my life, slowly drifting through non-specific belief and deism first. I've had to live through the deaths of loved ones, and although I mourned them terribly, I understood that their lives were over. Nothing bad (or good for that matter) was happening to "them" now, and I would have to move on with the world and treasure the memories and love they gave me. It hurt like crazy, but I dealt with it head-on and with no illusions about what had happened. (Oddly, the idea that I will someday cease to exist has never bothered me. The idea that the people I love will someday cease to exist bothers me terribly.)

Today, an extended family member died. She was a retired pastor, and her family is very religious. Watching them go through her illness and death has been heart-wrenching. First, they took to Facebook to ask people for prayers. The tone was pleading, begging for prayers. Begging for people to beg an imaginary man in the sky to give her back, make her better. Then, after she was gone, assuring each other that "her spirit lives on" and "she's in a better place." Saying more prayers to the same imaginary man who of course didn't do anything to help previously (because he's imaginary).

I was awful to see from an atheist perspective. I felt so bad for them. Not only had they lost someone they loved very much, they were putting themselves through a form of emotional torture by desparately hoping, wishing, that these fairy tales they were telling themselves are true. Meanwhile, I'm thinking about the wonderful life she had, all of the people who loved her, and how lucky we all were to have known her. Life will be less rich for a lot of people now that she is gone, but playing make-believe isn't going to fix that.

Of course, I would never have expressed any of this to them. I held hands, gave hugs, told them how sorry I was about what was happening. I stood quietly while they said their group prayers. They really are a good bunch of people.

As time goes on, I'm starting to see that religion even fails as a coping mechanism for dealing with death and loss. Religion has taught us to cope with death through denial. It is astonishing to me that this is so difficult for so many people to see.
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02-01-2016, 05:33 PM
RE: I don't think religion is effective at helping people cope with death
So sorry for your loss. Hug
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02-01-2016, 06:57 PM
RE: I don't think religion is effective at helping people cope with death
(02-01-2016 03:58 PM)ThinkingOhio Wrote:  I have been an atheist for most of my life, slowly drifting through non-specific belief and deism first. I've had to live through the deaths of loved ones, and although I mourned them terribly, I understood that their lives were over. Nothing bad (or good for that matter) was happening to "them" now, and I would have to move on with the world and treasure the memories and love they gave me. It hurt like crazy, but I dealt with it head-on and with no illusions about what had happened. (Oddly, the idea that I will someday cease to exist has never bothered me. The idea that the people I love will someday cease to exist bothers me terribly.)

Today, an extended family member died. She was a retired pastor, and her family is very religious. Watching them go through her illness and death has been heart-wrenching. First, they took to Facebook to ask people for prayers. The tone was pleading, begging for prayers. Begging for people to beg an imaginary man in the sky to give her back, make her better. Then, after she was gone, assuring each other that "her spirit lives on" and "she's in a better place." Saying more prayers to the same imaginary man who of course didn't do anything to help previously (because he's imaginary).

I was awful to see from an atheist perspective. I felt so bad for them. Not only had they lost someone they loved very much, they were putting themselves through a form of emotional torture by desparately hoping, wishing, that these fairy tales they were telling themselves are true. Meanwhile, I'm thinking about the wonderful life she had, all of the people who loved her, and how lucky we all were to have known her. Life will be less rich for a lot of people now that she is gone, but playing make-believe isn't going to fix that.

Of course, I would never have expressed any of this to them. I held hands, gave hugs, told them how sorry I was about what was happening. I stood quietly while they said their group prayers. They really are a good bunch of people.

As time goes on, I'm starting to see that religion even fails as a coping mechanism for dealing with death and loss. Religion has taught us to cope with death through denial. It is astonishing to me that this is so difficult for so many people to see.

Sorry to hear about the death of your relative.

The thing that amazes me is that after the person dies and supposedly goes to heaven everyone cries and wails and mourns their loss . This doesn't make any sense. If they reeeeeally believe the person goes to heaven, if they truly believe that there's life after death and they'll see them when they die ...then why all the sorrow? If they really believe the dead person simply got on a kind of "god airplane" and went to an Hawaiian-like paradise then they should be pretty happy for them. It should be a bon voyage party with lots of smiles and cheers. But they don't do this.

I think there must be, somewhere in the deepest part of the religious brain, a realization that it's all a fantasy. Deep down under the indoctrination they realize that death is final and that's it, it's all over, for the dead person. But religion is kinda like a shot of whisky, it artificially numbs the pain and makes them feel better.

Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.... on Donald J. Trump:

He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-fac’d, worse bodied, shapeless every where;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind,
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
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02-01-2016, 07:09 PM (This post was last modified: 02-01-2016 07:54 PM by DerFish.)
RE: I don't think religion is effective at helping people cope with death
My sister died of cancer 4 years ago now. And I joined with the rest of the family muttering that she is in Heaven now, but earrly this year my brother died of alcoholism and nobody is saying "He is in a better place now!"
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02-01-2016, 07:23 PM
RE: I don't think religion is effective at helping people cope with death
And people these days "pass on". Like they've passed through a turnstyle from one room to another room. It irritates me a little bit. When people die they're dead. They don't exist anymore. They haven't passed on which denotes going someplace. They're just plain ole dead.

Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.... on Donald J. Trump:

He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-fac’d, worse bodied, shapeless every where;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind,
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
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02-01-2016, 09:08 PM
RE: I don't think religion is effective at helping people cope with death
ThinkingOhio you are so very right that it fails as a coping mechanism.

As an X xtian I recall how we were taught to "cheer"people up with windy bullshit words like..."absent the flesh..present with the lord"..."better place" "streets of gold and sitting by the throne".

These poor bereaved people had never closely read their bibles...for if they had they would have known and understood that the dead went to the pit...or Sheol..or the grave....only one passage in scripture talks about going to the "REWARD" at death..And that set of verses was attributed to the charlatan Saul/Paul of tarsus. Yup him,..he was Christianities inventor.

Folks are encouraged by these words...hope is bestowed...trust is deeply ingrained for their Pastor and their church family. But the bottom line is that it's all a gimmick. Thats right a gimmick the purpose of which is to gain more control over the patrons...more control...more tithe...more money and ultimately church growth.
Never will these so called Pastors tell the truth about whats in the texts..or that the whole shebang is a fraud......they like their jobs and for them to tell the truth may cost them their paychecks

It's been said the devil knows the bible better than christians.. and also that he goes to church more regularly than they do...might just be some truth in those statements if christianity was true.

I am sorry for the loss of your friend.
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03-01-2016, 10:19 AM (This post was last modified: 03-01-2016 10:25 AM by Tomasia.)
RE: I don't think religion is effective at helping people cope with death
(02-01-2016 03:58 PM)ThinkingOhio Wrote:  As time goes on, I'm starting to see that religion even fails as a coping mechanism for dealing with death and loss. Religion has taught us to cope with death through denial. It is astonishing to me that this is so difficult for so many people to see.

In my experience religion has helped a great many people I know deal with tragedies and death, but perhaps this may have not have been true for those you know.

It clearly helped the mother of Emmett Till, deal with the violent and horrific death of her son, whose conviction led to the Civil Rights movement. It also helped MLK deal with prospect of his own death, helping him overcome the anxiety of his own likely demise, solidifying his own convictions.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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03-01-2016, 10:38 AM
RE: I don't think religion is effective at helping people cope with death
Grief is a weird thing. Everyone goes through it in their way. For some belief in an afterlife and a god seems to help them. For others they become angry at their god. And then there are those of us who deal with the loss of a loved one without the delusion of anything supernatural.

Losing a loved one is hard...no matter what your beliefs may be. I am willing to give people the space they need to do whatever it takes to get them through it.

I can't say to anyone that the way I have grieved for people is right for them.

See here they are the bruises some were self-inflicted and some showed up along the way. - JF

We're all mad here. The Cheshire Cat
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08-01-2016, 05:34 PM
RE: I don't think religion is effective at helping people cope with death
(03-01-2016 10:19 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(02-01-2016 03:58 PM)ThinkingOhio Wrote:  As time goes on, I'm starting to see that religion even fails as a coping mechanism for dealing with death and loss. Religion has taught us to cope with death through denial. It is astonishing to me that this is so difficult for so many people to see.

In my experience religion has helped a great many people I know deal with tragedies and death, but perhaps this may have not have been true for those you know.

It clearly helped the mother of Emmett Till, deal with the violent and horrific death of her son, whose conviction led to the Civil Rights movement. It also helped MLK deal with prospect of his own death, helping him overcome the anxiety of his own likely demise, solidifying his own convictions.

But you don't know that something other than religion might help even more. Drinking Beverage

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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08-01-2016, 10:48 PM
RE: I don't think religion is effective at helping people cope with death
First and foremost I want to say that I am sorry for your loss. I don't know how close you were to this extended family member but you have my condolences. My wife was killed in a car accident almost 2 years ago. It was the most difficult thing I have ever endured and I had to spend many weeks in counseling as a result. I learned a lot about grief during that time. I learned that everyone grieves differently and everyone copes with their grief differently. Religion, for many, can be a very vital tool for handling the loss of a loved one. Many believe that is the reason religion was started to begin with. The thought on never seeing their loved one again was hurtful. Yes, for some, the hope of an afterlife may seem like denial. But I think it is important to at least recognize that it is a copeing mechanism that many choose or decide not to choose.

I was the quiet type when my wife was killed. Not because I wanted to. It was because I became a single father of three boys over night. I did not have time to wollow in my grief because my children needed their daddy to be a source of strength and support for them. I got a lot of flack from relatives and in-laws because I did not grieve the same way they did.

I know I went on a little rant. The only point that I am trying to make is that religion is probably the oldest and most used copeing mechanism for grief. However it is not for everyone and although it is completely normal for people to feel upset when others cope differently, we should try to respect it. Stay strong.
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