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As an Atheist, how do you deal with it?

It's definitely, definitely the hardest thing for me. I think about how crappy it is to have a mother who is hurt by my religious decisions, but how much worse would it be to realize that when I lose someone in my family, they're gone forever?

A lot of the Atheists I speak to don't think about it, or don't seem to mind. What do you think?
(Hopefully this isn't a duplicate thread.)

Tags: death

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You are right, in that we do not know what did happen, or what will happen. However, it makes sense to act according to that which we believe is most likely to occur. There certainly are many bad ways to die! To reduce the chances of experiencing one of those, it makes sense to me to try to have alternative possibilities - with the following caveat:
If one becomes obsessed, depressed or otherwise overwhelmed with the thought, it's probably best to simply continue to avoid thinking about it. Death will occur with or without a person helping it.
I don't fear death; it'll happen, eventually, so there's no point getting upset about it. And after I've died, there ain't a me to care one way or the other, so worrying about it now seems rather pointless. I certainly don't want to die — at least not at this point in my life — but neither do I want to live forever. If I do contemplate my own death, what scares me is the manner of death rather than death itself. There are plenty of horrible ways to die.

As to the death of others, I'm not particularly bothered by it. I'm not unsympathetic or callous about it, but the simple fact is we die. I acknowledge that, and that acknowledgement allows me to accept it.

C'est la vie.
Me I try not to worry about dying because I feel that me being alive is the greatest gift of all time. I watched a certain documentary with Richard Dawkins about the odds of all of existing. The right sperm and the right egg had to come together to form you, then you had to survive the 9 months until birth, then if you were a sick baby like me you had to survive after being born. Don't worry about death, focus on living. Read all the books you can enjoy your family while you have them and focus on the positive things in life. Life is too precious to be wasted thinking about death or fearing it. You are doing the very thing billions and billion of people who were never born got a chance to do, LIVE!
I think the most significant thing to note is that they're no longer in pain.

After that, you realize that mourning death is for the living. We will miss them, regardless of faith, and our days will be darker without them in it. The promise of seeing them again...well, there's nothing that can guarantee that in any case. Some heavens say that we will be who we died as; do I have to be overweight for all eternity? Some heavens say that we will be the best of ourselves. Will I recognize my great-grandmother in her early twenties?

There's nothing in any book that says you can't miss someone. When you love someone, and they pass away, your life is forever changed. But I say this: celebrate them for who they were when they lived, and love them for who they were, and worry less about what happens to them after they die, and more about how you will carry on their memory once they're gone.

We all want our loved ones to go on to a better place. But what if that better place is simply a nothing, a less than the physical or emotional pain they knew here?
We tend to dwell on the possible pain, loss of self, etc surrounding death. As we really don't know, can't we just as easily assume it will be painless, or that we find our 'self?'

Which I suppose is where all the stories of happy-happy-joy-joy afterlife comes in.

Mostly, I fear the pain of actually dying; those few moments of not being able to breathe, or will I feel the bus smash my body to bits. But on the other side of it, the couple of major injuries I've had, the immediate moment of impact is almost always pain-free. Either the I-didn't-know-what-hit-me effect or even if I know, that sudden rush of adrenaline is a most amazing physiological process.

I figure if I didn't feel my knee tear in 4 places and my collarbone break in the last wreck, I probably won't feel the bus that smashes into me either.
The certainty of death is the most disturbing reality that any person has to face, which is one of the principal reasons why religions, most of which promise an afterlife, have endured for millennia and will likely continue well into the foreseeable future. Realistic atheists face this certainty with courage and with a hopefully enhanced committment to living happily in the now, that is by trying to make the most of our hour upon the stage. Religious faith offers solace, moral certainty and eternal life, but at a price that the non theist declines to pay.

Is the non believer better off? I can only answer that highly subjective question for myself. Yes, I am better off, but recognize that the understandable and inviting appeals of reassuring religious doctrines are no more than comforting delusions. The courageous person must turn away from religion's mirage just as we must decline myriad superficially attractive doctrines and substances that are not good for us. Facing and living life as it really is and not just what we would like it to be is not an easy undertaking.
The last 13.75 billion years didn't bother me the least when I wasn't alive yet, then why should the rest of time bother me?

It's dying that I am afraid of. Dying an leaving loved ones behind, that's the real problem.
I think that death being the finally thing is a comfort for me. My son committed suicide in Nov. of 08. It was a comfort for me to know that he is not suffering. He was an Atheist to so I'm glad it was final for him. Sure I will miss seeing him. He was having such a hard time with his life I'm glad for him. His ashes sit in my living room along with many pictures of him. I feel at peace with what he did.
Its a fact of life. We're only here briefly. All of our lives are finite,no one is granted an exception. What is the point in even thinking about it. You live til you die.
Everyone fears death. Even the religious. I had night sweats about it when I was religious and the same night terrors when I was an atheist. The feeling of loss never goes away. To me, it was only slightly more comforting that I would go to a heaven when I believed that kind of thing, but it never took the fear out of me completely.

So I personally try not to think about it. I'll worry about that when I'm on my death bed, but not now. I'm going to get the most of out life. Try to make everything I do in life make me happy in some way. And when the time comes, then I can think about it. Death is a law of life in the same way gravity is a law of physics. You can't stop it from happening. You can deny it all you want, but eventually, when you jump out of the plane, you have to accept that gravity is going to win. And so is death in the end. So why fight it? Why worry about the inevitable?

And this again goes for the death of your loved ones. It's never a happy thing, but it's a thing we just have to accept and move on.
Sure, I've thought about it... and I get irritated.

Religion reduces the significance of each human life by treating it like a pit-stop in some filthy gas-station restroom. 'Get it over with and move on down that highway of eternity.'

Epicurus was supposed to have said "Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist." This may comfort the living rationalist about their demise, but what about the loss of a loved one?

How can we reconcile ourselves to a life without someone who has made our existence more bearable and meaningful?
I think we need to remember not what we lost when they have gone, but what we gained from having them with us.
Think of the phrase "what if...?", and how it implies the countless possibilities which are not realities. What if... I was prettier, smarter, richer, and famous, loved by all, and had never made 'this' mistake, 'that' choice ... if my loved one did not die. One can lose oneself in what might have been and feel the deep chasm of loss open in them from something that was never theirs to begin with.

You should feel some sorrow, some pain, some longing and grieve. Then you need to live.

One person does not own another. We give gifts of ourselves to one another, of time... of our precious little time. Those who have died cannot give away what they do not have; we only keep what we remember and cherish. We must be grateful for those gifts and never unappreciative of the fact that they have no more to give.

This sounds a little hard at the end, but it is for personal admonishment when we bemoan what is no more.

Religion tries to comfort us by telling us we will see our loved ones again... so we believe and forget the wonderful gifts given to us. What an evil and selfish way to cheapen the loving gift of time.
My boyfriend is unlabeled, but told me he thought of death this way:

Time slows for those who die, and your brain records everything. As your brain ceases receiving electrical signals from the rest of your body, you fall away into nothingness...only for you, that nothingness is the last forever you will ever know. The bright light is your brain dying, sending desperate signals to other parts of your visual cortex in need of oxygen. You fall, you float, you go toward the light, and that is the last thing you will ever know.


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