I work in healthcare in a long term care facility and I deal with death on a regular basis. About a year ago the opportunity arose for me to take a palliative care course through my work. I enjoyed it for the most part. It dealt with topics such as end of life care, pain relief and addressing the spiritual needs of different individuals based on their religious beliefs.
There was one instance however that was decidedly unpleasant, and unfortunately really overshadowed the rest of my time in the course. During the segment on Spirituality the teacher coughed up some stats on who believes what. I forget the percentage of people who believe in heaven vs. reincarnation, etc. but i remember the percent of people who don't believe in an after life was something like 20%. It wasn't the number that upset me, it was the fact that the instructor said it like this, "and 20% of people don't believe in any kind of after life at all, and I think that's just sad." I remember feeling decidedly awkward at that point, especially when there were gasps, heads shaking and mumbled agreements all around me.
I remember timidly raising my hand and saying that I was one of those 20% and I wasn't particularly sad. The teacher did a bit of back peddling, some platitudes about how everyone was entitled to their believes, yadda, yadda, but i really felt like the odd woman out from that time on. There was a lot of walking on eggshells so as not to upset the token heathen.
What is genuinely sad is the notion that not believing in god or an afterlife means that you are somehow a morbid or unhappy person. I don't tell everyone that i am an atheist. I am kind of a closet case. When i do tell people, they are often surprised. I'm not sure what they expect an atheist to be like... maybe they are looking for horns growing out of my forehead or something. I think it is just that i am a happy and smiling person that confuses people.
Anyway, i'm not sure exactly the point i am trying to make. Maybe I just resent people making assumptions about me because of my beliefs... or I resent when people assume that i am a religious person just because i am a cheery person. Maybe i just wanted to share my story with more of you "sad" people out there! :)