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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Everything dies. Without death, life would be meaningless and if we did not die there would be no room for our children to live their lives. Death is a requirement of our existence. It is natural and I do not fear its finality in the least. If we live lives where we do more good than bad, that good lives in those around us, and they pass it on. In the end, we are the sum of our memories and experiences....

Do I care that all we do is rot and return to the earth? No. We are already insignificant, dust in the universe, that we pretend to be more than we are is a fault of religion...claiming we are somehow divine "children" of god that deserve eternal life (which sounds boring)....I have no problem with the notion of my body returning to the trees and living on that way...and my kids taking my DNA around with them....

As for those I love dying, well, if I do my best to remember them and bring up what they taught me and otherwise keeping their memory alive, then I always have them with me in some way....it is more tragic if they did not get to live a full life, but tragedy is part of life as well as joy...I think my life is healthier accepting that they are gone and only memories than those that hold on to hope that they will see them in some light after death....that is living for what comes later, not for what is now....
I was once engaged to a man that did not believe me fully when I told him I was an Atheist. He insisted that I was full of "Christian" morals, and such a good person that he felt 'when the time was right' i would magically 'believe in God', again. I suppose he didn't want to think that when we 'died' he would go to heaven, and I would go to hell. I would just laugh at him when the subject was brought up. This was a very touchy subject within our relationship, and honestly, I'm glad I do not have to deal with it anymore.
My husband is Agnostic, but he supports how I want to believe.

When a person dies, it's a nice mind stet to believe that they have 'passed on to a better place'. Nobody wants to face the truth that for that individual, life is over, and they will never see them again. Christianity allows for individuals to feel a sense of assurance that their loved one is not gone 'forever' and that they will see them again.

I, personally, think about death more than the average person. When I was younger, this was thought of as to be 'depression'. I don't wish to die, so this isn't a symptom of some disorder, instead it's a result of my thinking mind. I think about everything, and I tend to 'overthink' most things. This isn't always bad though, I can honestly say that I fully think through all my decisions before I make them.

Death is a process that we must all face, regardless of if we like it or not. Your life is lived, only to end at some point in time. Those that you said 'ignore' death, I think thats a great way of living life actually. What is so wrong with ignoring your eternal fate? Death isn't something you want to think about everyday, trust me! It would in turn, only depress you to think about not living anymore.

Therefore I suggest this bit of advice: Live your life without thinking of death because if you constantly think of death, what life did you truely live?
If you're so obsessed with death, you will only waste your life to finally meet your eternally fated friend.

Life is too short. :)
I look at it this way. Do you remember what it was like before you were born? It wasn't painful or unpleasant in any way was it? So that's what it's like to be dead. It doesn't bother me.
Since I never believed in an afterlife I can't say I really understand your loss, but I cannot imagine any afterlife which I would want to experience for eternity. Think of it. ETERNITY. For ever and ever. That's a hell of a long time to chat to your rellys. It would make watching reruns on TV seem like your first sexual experience!

I don't want to live forever, really I don't.
I create. I write. I enjoy life.

I reproduce! Spread those genes!

I remember those who have passed. I cherish their memory.

While the idea still scares and brings me down, I don't let it ruin my time here.
When you truly understand and accept the permanent nature of your own morality, the only rational response is to relish the wonder of living a human life and to use your time here wisely. Worrying and fretting over that which is inevitable is irrational. It is also irrational to fear non-existence, when you know you will have no awareness once it occurs.

That said, I ain't always rational! And, full appreciation of eternal non-existence is sometimes horrifying to me. I try not to let myself go there for the rational reasons in my first paragraph.

Otherwise, I'll quote John D, "Alcohol helps." ;-)
When my mother died I was glad she was no longer in pain. I accept death as it is, an ending to a life. I do feel that we are still a part of the universe as a whole even after death. It comforts me to think this way, she isn't really gone her body has transitioned to a new state.

I was actually less scared of death when I started thinking about it in this universal regard.
I come late to this discussion here, but I have put quite a bit of thought into the subject of death for atheists, thought which I expressed in a chapter of my book which you can read here: Dancing with Mr. D.

Rereading it myself, I see that I covered pretty much all the points people have made in this thread so far, and also some positive points that nobody has raised yet. Specifically:

1. You can prepare for bereavement: be ready to support friends who are bereaved, and know what will help you when you lose someone close. You know death is going to happen to people in your family; be ready for it, ready to be a rock of stability to others, instead of letting it catch you unprepared.

2. You, now, alive, have the ability to control how people will remember you. Once you are dead, you've lost that. You can take very practical steps to put your affairs in order, and to do so is a generous gift to your survivors; and you can prepare a cache of memorabilia and gifts so people will remember you better and more kindly when you are gone.

Some of these points might help people, I hope.
I recently addressed this subject on another site (RDF).

What it's like for a parent facing the death of a child? Our children are not supposed to die before us, but sometimes they do.

A few years ago I gave the eulogy at my son's funeral. He was 33 when he died. He was an atheist. He had SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy). My daughter had previously died at 28 having the same thing.

I gave a moving speech. Not a dry eye in the place. Well anyway, someone asked why I didn't mention god in the eulogy. I said that god never crossed my mind. Much to my consternation, they did not understand. It's hard to explain to theist how comforting it is to be an atheist. No one to blame. No one coming to me to tell me it's not god's fault. No one telling me I didn't pray enough. Losing a child is hard enough. I didn't need all that other BS.

Someone on the other site mentioned a relaxing feeling. I had to agree.

I have a friend who lost his son about the same time I lost my daughter. He said he couldn't have made it without the help of the church.

He knows I'm an atheist. I know he's an theist. Since we both lost children, we have a mutual respect for each other. I'm glad the church helped him the same way I'm glad I'm an atheist.

What do you think?
Gerald, I think that's spot on. There are so many ridiculous questions that theists torture themselves with, that atheists simply don't have to deal with. Why did God do this to me? Doesn't he love me? Am I not good enough? Since God is imaginary, all those questions are simply meaningless. There is no "problem of evil". Bad things often happen to people without any moral causes at all. Atheists don't have to go thru the agony of second-guessing their relationship with their deity or their own self-worth when things go wrong. There's nobody to blame, so guilt just isn't part of the equation at all. It makes sad events so much more tolerable. Even in situations where a person actually is to blame (like murder), theists still have to endure all the above questions and atheists don't. I've always been greatly relieved by my atheism. There's so much less pressure when you only have to worry about your relationships with actual persons.
That's the nice thing about my ideological position; I don't deal with death, because I'm still living. When I'm dead, it won't matter either, because, well, I'll be dead, so "I" just won't "be" any longer, nor have any idea that is what the outcome was ...
Its never going to be easy when someone you care about dies,you just have to make the best of the situation with what you have hold on to the memories you still have and strive to live a life that you are happy with.
I still haven't made up my mind on death. Oh, don't get me wrong, I don't believe there's a heaven or a hell. But, remember being taught in school the first law of thermodynamics? "Energy cannot be created or destroyed, only converted from one form to another."

When my husband was in a car crash and they were ready to take him off life support, they told me that they were doing so because there was no electrical activity in his brain. So, it would seem that even modern science believes that we run, if you will, on electrical activity. Since we know energy can only be converted from one form to another, where does our energy go when we die? I have read with great interest, but sadly, very little understanding about quantum physics, which, from all I can gather, states that there are many, many different worlds that we live parallel to, but cannot see or hear.

My point is that perhaps when we die, we do go someplace. Perhaps a parallel universe. I keep going back to the fact that energy must be converted, it cannot be destroyed. There are billions of universes in the solar system. Maybe we go to another one. I don't know and I don't pretend to know, but I'm not convinced that when we die, that is it. Game over. It may not be. One thing I do know. We're all going to find out someday.

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