My son killed himself at 28. Boy was there a strong need to believe in an afterlife. It was no suprise to me that he did not contact me from the other side to say Mom I'm OK. I realized that it was just a really stong need. I now have some insight why people believe stupid things like religion. Why do so many people not think about the matrix of religion and what is really going on. I think they would feel so silly, that maybe that why they cant admit they were wrong their whole life. Linda

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Linda, I ams so sorry to hear about your son. The way I would probably look at it is that whatever was haunting him isn't doing that anymore.
Thats true. He got what he always wanted.
I'm sorry to hear about your son. I wonder if your son would benifrom some kind of depression medication. I cant beleive the difference it made in my life. I would do everything you can think of to stop him from. taking his own life. His life will be alot better (I hope) once he gets out of his teenage years. I wouldn't hesitate to put him in the hospital. Do everything you can. That way maybe you won't be raked with guilt because you didn't do enough. O coarse in the end, life is your sons decision. You can't live it for him. Linda
I'm very sorry to hear about your loss, Linda. It's a terrible thing that no person should ever have to go through.

When I was growing up I never really believed in the "afterlife" the way my mother described it. I come from a family that did a lot of hunting and we often killed our own food.. I knew right from the start that death was a part of life, and that without it we could never come to be. I think that helped me through a lot of tough times in my life when somebody close passed away.. I was always remembering how, in some way, their death was a part of the life they had. It's very hard for those of us who have lost somebody close, but I've always managed to heal through it by remembering that they're no longer in pain anymore. They don't exist, which in some ways was a comfort as it meant that whatever was tormenting them previously can no longer do so.

When it comes to death and comfort, I think the most important thing is to let others in to help us heal. By talking about it we're enabling ourselves to accept what has happened, and that is a huge step on the way to recovery.
I keep this quote from Sam Harris. It's a little long for this blog, but we'll give it a try.
The fact is that our intuitions are not always a reliable guide to the truth; and in certain situations, they can be relied upon to be wrong. So why should we think that our inability/reluctance to conceive of our own nonexistence offers an indication of what happens after death?
And is it really so difficult to imagine one's own nonexistence? I think it might be easier than advertised. Presumably, you don't find it hard to accept that you didn't exist before you were born, so why is it so difficult to believe that you will cease to exist after you die? Think of all the times and places where you now aren't: The 14th century got along fine without you (well, not so fine). If you are in D.C. at this moment, you are utterly absent from every other city on earth. There are people walking the streets of Rome right now, carrying on without the benefit of your company. Is your absence from just one more point in time and space really so difficult to imagine? (This time and space argument doesn't originate with me. I believe I've borrowed it from Douglas Hofstadter.)

Or imagine dying in parts: what if you had a stroke that damaged your visual cortex-where would your faculty of sight be thereafter? If a priest said that your visual self had gone on to heaven before you, would you believe him? What if an-other stroke caused you to lose your abil-ity to speak and to understand language-do you think that your eloquence must survive in some immaterial form? There is simply no question that brain damage can cause any of us to lose the specific faculties that constitute our conscious selves. Why is it so hard to imagine that we can lose all these faculties at once?
Or consider the analogy of sleep: each night you fall asleep and surrender your subjectivity to oblivion. You probably do this quite happily-indeed, you will be miserable if you fail to do it. Perhaps you believe that we all remain subtly conscious even while deeply asleep (this might be so), but if you're like me, you awaken each morning without any sense of having lived for most of the night. You already know, therefore, what it's like for your experience of the world to cease. Is a permanent cessation really so difficult to imagine?
This is to all you wonderful people who wrote something about my sons death. Thank you for all your kind, thoughtful words. I was very private in my mental journey of lossing my son. Mainly because I didn't want to hear all this crap about "he's with jesus now" or other stupid remarks. I didn't fell like me rolling my eyes would be a cool response at a funeral. As soon as the service(not religous)was over I was escorted to the back door of the funeral home where my car was and I was gone. I couldn't wait to get out of there. The rest of my family stayed behind and dealt with all the friends and family. They seemed to like it. YUCK! Anyway I seemed to be pretty good now and It's because I believe that when you die you just cease to exist. Which I find to be a real confort.
When I die, I told my family NO funeral. I want everybody to have a big dinner, at a resturant or at somebodies house. Thats it. I want to be cremated and my ashes scatered over water. I told my husband 'No toilet flushing"! Linda
I'm so sorry to hear about your loss, Linda. It's a tragic thing that no parent should ever have to go through..I think you did the right thing in getting the hell out of dodge before you got to hear:"He's in heven now." bs...
It's just not fair,is it.
A friend of mine's adult son also committed suicide some years ago. This friend's mom suffered from manic depression,he suffers from chronic depression and the same went for his son,who made a small mistake and blew it so out of proportion that he felt there was no escape except by death...Anyway,it's very sad indeed.
Death is the hardest thing to deal with. But your son affected those around him, and his presence will be felt beyond his life because of that. Now all of us are affected simply by reading your story.
Linda, I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. My brother is going to die soon - probably in the next couple of weeks. He has battled brain cancer for 20 years now and it is amazing (although obviously not a miracle) that he has survived this long. There is now nothing that can be done for him and we are watching him, slowly, fade. He is 59.

He is a fundamentalist Christian and he is facing his death with courage and joy. He believes he is going to live with Jesus. That belief is also sustaining his wife and at least one of his sons.

My mother and I have no such belief to sustain us. It hurts. But we would not want a delusion to dull the pain of his passing. We love him dearly, and while we don't want to lose him, he has no quality of life. He leaves two wonderful sons and two beautiful grandchildren. He has had a good marriage and will leave his wife financially secure. He has achieved what few people have - and yet, his religion has made him feel like a failure. It's a double-edged sword. Religion has made his life a misery, but is easing the pain of his death.

He will live on in our memories. When my Dad, an atheist, died 26 years ago, we shocked a visiting minister by laughing out loud while we reminisced about him. My brother, this week, said that his dearest wish is that we will laugh about him the same way when he is gone. What better legacy to leave than to make people laugh and smile when they remember you?

I can honestly say that not a day passes when I don't smile at a memory of my Dad, or even privately talk to him. It doesn't mean I believe he is flying around playing a harp. It simply means he is alive in my memory.

My brother will not get the afterlife he expects - but, in death, he will never know that his belief has been a delusion. Perhaps he may even have an NDE which will confirm his beliefs. It is not the way I would wish to go, but I would not deny him the comfort of his beliefs at this stage.

I, on the other hand, will have to attend a fundamentalist funeral in a church I hate and swore never to return to and hear them preach a litany of lies over his coffin. I dread it almost more than his death. But I will be there and, afterwards, I will talk about what we did as kids and I will laugh at his memory and keep him alive in the only way I know how.
Hi Kristy,
Reading about your brother moved me. my dad was recently diagnosed with liver cancer and while his treatments are having some effect, there is no prospect of a cure. If treatments have no effect doc's are saying a number of months, beyond that they dont know (I offer this just to say i have a sense of where you are at right now, but i also know the really hard part is still to come).

do you feel your atheism provides you with a solid base to make sense of your brothers life and impending death? I read that theists often think we have a bleak, depressed outlook given that we dont believe our time on earth is "for" anything. What do you think?
I don't beleive that life is Bleak because I don't live for anything. I'm not a dependent person. I don't depend on a god to make me feel like I have a perposeful life. Not believing in god has set me free. I feel more satisfided than I have ever been. I hate the idea of some butthole in heaven scutinizing my every action. What torment. I did try the religon thing at one time. It was awful. Everytime I would ask a question at church, nobody could answer it or they would say. Its a test of your faith. What a bunch of malarkey. Its just a bunch of made up crap. Made up by some old men along long time ago. I could go into detail but that would take to long and I'm tired of typing. LINDA

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