So I guess I'm relatively new as an atheist; I only started identifying myself as such a couple years ago. Right now, though, I'm facing the possible death of my grandmother, and it's likely that, if it does happen, it will happen soon. So I'm wondering: how do you all deal with death?
As for me, I'm not really sure how I'm dealing with this; I only just found out tonight. Anyway I don't mean to by whiny or anything, just wanted to hear your thoughts on the subject.
(And I also apologize if this has been discussed before elsewhere; I'm kind of a new Nerdfighter, too.)
First of all, I'm truly sorry to hear about your grandmother. I honestly don't know what to say to that except that I hope she recovers.
The way I see it, for this life to have any value at all, it has to be the only one we have. If it is simply the precursor to some eternal afterlife, then it doesn't matter. Because in comparison to eternity, the here and now is nothing, and infinite life, like an unlimited supply of anything, would be worthless. I think this video explains it better than I can: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1L7uF5L1Y4&list=FLIaXORM_mK1gaU...
Ultimately, I think the most important thing is this: if the world is, even in a small way, better when you leave it than when you entered, thanks to something you did, or just the kind of person you were, then it was all worthwhile. It is better, I think, to focus on the life that is, or the life that was, and not on its ending.
A lot of people fight the possibility of death by having heaven or reincarnation but I don't know if either are true. I do sort of believe in the reincarnation theory. This theory says that when you die you come back as a new person and that you will find you loved ones.
May be this may help!!
ps. sorry about your grandmother! :(
Hi there, Speaking of death prediction, I find it really odd that one of the on-line death prediction services showed me the same death date that I was foretold in my dream about a year ago. http://yourdeathdate.info/1/index.html - I can’t explain this coincidence in any other way except that there must be some kind of magic involved here.
I'm very sorry to hear about your grandmother; know that you and her both have my best wishes.
I didn't really become an atheist until after my grandfather died (and for unrelated reasons). A bit ironically, actually, I always find what Judaism taught me about death to be very comforting; that what matters isn't an afterlife, but how a person is remembered and commemorated by those they leave behind. (In Judaism, it's a specific tradition to name children after family members who have died, so the name continues on.) I think as an atheist, all you can really be concerned about is this world that we have right here and now. While someone who dies is gone, and we don't have them around, we will never lose the things they contributed to the world and what they gave to our lives to get us to where we are.
I'm not just talking about memories, either. The fact is, you probably wouldn't be who you are without your grandmother, so there's a sense in which she's around as long as you are. You don't need 'souls' or heaven to appreciate that; it's a simple fact of human life.
I hope that didn't sound trite, or condescending. It's a point of view that's genuinely helped me out in the past. Overall, I think being an atheist means just being honest and thoughtful about everything, and being willing to admit when we don't have the answers. I hope this helped at least a little. (And definitely feel free to friend or message me. I'm always around to talk, especially about being an atheist Nerdfighter.)
The best way to deal with death, in my opinion, is to accept it for what it is; The end of a life. That might sound harsh, but it's all we can know it is. Don't waste your time thinking about what happens to people when they die, if they go anywhere or become something else, and start focusing on what people were while they were still alive.
I am sorry, losing a family member is never easy.
I think about death in this way: We are all connected, I hold memories in my head of people that died many years ago. I also know that their energy is now helping to grow trees and plants and animals. I also know that our atoms, and the atoms of every person I have ever known have a common origin in the core of a star. In that respect, we are all together as part of the universe, and none of us ever truly disappears.
I think Neil deGrasse Tyson says it best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMED5boxySs&feature=related
I am genuinely sad to hear about your grandmother. I sincerely hopes her experience improves.
What I would personally do, and this might be a horrible idea and work only for me, but what I would do is research death. We have made death such a sentimental, spiritual thing, and there is nothing wrong with that, but we must remember it is something natural as well, and something to be postponed as long as possible, but not feared, necessarily.
I would study the mechanics of death, not necessarily extremely in-depth, but I personally would want to know about the disease or condition your grandmother is suffering from, and research it. The general mechanics of death have always fascinated me. I always wondered how, if most of our body cells divide ceaselessly, daily in fact, how our bodies manage to deteriorate as they do? And just this morning, I came across this very interesting article. Besides helping you deal with your specific case, it gives the individual a better understanding of death overall.
By no means did I mean to be insensitive. Feel free to disregard/delete this post.
I'm very sorry to hear of your situation :( Best wishes in that.
On the other subject, I've just got a very simple belief that nought happens. The universe'll gone on, regardless of my state of being or not. One life, and all that. And the energy that our body's carry round for their whole life, and the molecules and matter, just become part of something else. My body goes into the ground, and from there, the ground becomes me. Lion King circle of life, and all that. But I don't really believe in an afterlife, or a place the soul goes to after death.
However, I don't think this'll be too bad, if it would happen :P
“PIPPIN: I didn't think it would end this way.
GANDALF: End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.
PIPPIN: What? Gandalf? See what?
GANDALF: White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.
PIPPIN: Well, that isn't so bad.
GANDALF: No. No, it isn't.”
Thank you for all your really nice responses, and for sharing your different perspectives. I just wanted to give you guys an update: my Grammy had an appointment with her oncologist; her cancer doesn't seem to have spread as much as they had originally thought, which is a big relief. She will have to have surgery, and until they do a few more tests we won't know her prognosis for sure, but it's looking better than we had hoped.
Anyway thanks again; it's nice to know that, even though I'm new here, everyone has been very kind :)
I hope she has made a full recovery now! xxxx
My philosophy is simple. With life there has to come death. Death is the price of life. The only way to avoid death is to not have lived, and I don't see that as a better option. Everyone has to die someday, but at least they got to live.
I approach death the way I approach most things, ignorance. We has no clue what happens after we die, no one has ever really come back from the dead. Even those brought back on the table usually were not "dead" in the truest sense. For all we know it is a nothingness or we could be wrong entirely and a person does meet some sort of deity. Perhaps they get reincarnated or sent to nirvana. I personally thing our conciseness cannot just stop. There is something special about it. The human brain alone does not account for consciousness. Perhaps we are alone with our consciousness forever replaying experiences and using sensations to create a heaven like place, we will not know until we face it.