I’m scared to say those words out loud. Not because I am ashamed, on the contrary I am proud to be who I am and believe what I believe. I’m scared because there are usually very strong reactions to this statement. There are the responses of the faithful, who try to scare me into belief or lure me with false statements of understanding. But really, I’m more afraid of other Atheists. Often, this statement will segue into a tirade on the faithful. They are referred to as hypocrits, ignorant and all other manner of things often associated with the faithful by atheists.
However, I believe none of these things. Individuals are individuals. I can understand and sympathize with many. Most of the people I love are among the faithful and I love them. I believe that atheist and believer alike can be friends and live in harmony and I strive to live that example.
I felt I needed the above preface to follow up with what I really wanted to talk about, death, grief and consolation.
Usually at the time of death, friends and family try to console one another with musings of “a better place”, a plan, or a future reunion in a heavenly setting. But for those of us who do not have any faith or belief in “a better place”, an Architect or a life after death, these consolations have the opposite effect. They anger and infuriate. They remind us that you really don’t understand how we are feeling right now and we feel even more alone than we did before you brought a god into it. We cannot take solace in the idea that we will see our loved ones again, we are instead coping with the fact that we will never see them again, that they no longer exist outside of our own memories and the memories of our loved ones. This is the place we are in emotionally and mentally. We are trying to accept this when everyone around us is insisting that we don’t have to and it is impeding our progress and recovery.
I am saying this not to sway anyone to my side of the line, but rather to remind us all to be considerate of the state of our friends and loved ones in their times of mourning. It is not the time to proselytize, for either an atheist, or a believer. Nothing makes you feel less valued as a person than to hear your loved ones use your grief as an opportunity to bring their own beliefs to the spotlight.
I followed a rabbit hole of links today my believing friend Krissy started me on and I ended up at True Love Studios, thoughtful and considerate consolations regarding loss that leave out beliefs in an Almighty. It made me feel so good to be understood when it comes to my own (past) grief. I’ll leave you with a little list of things that help console atheists in times of grief.
1 - Reflecting on the life we shared with our loved ones.
2 - The knowledge that suffering, has come to an end.
3 - Lost loved ones will always be in our hearts and our memories.
4 - Live our life to the fullest and waste not a second, because it is all we have.
5 - Reminding and appreciating the loved ones we have with us right now.
6 - Our loved ones are here for us and are hurting with us.
Remember to love each other.