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.)

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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.
Far more likely, IOWT, our chemical energy is converted into heat energy when we die, and simply dissipates into the surrounding environment. In fact, that can dissipation can be measured, and is used as a way to determine time of death by forensics teams. If the energy went into some parallel universe, coroners would always be wrong about time of death.
Quantum Physics also speaks of interconnectedness and the Unified Field. This theory makes a LOT of sense to me, and not from a wishful-thinking standpoint.

I don't believe in an afterlife or ghosts in the traditional sense, but I would not be surprised if we leave behind atomic footprints, energy signatures so to speak. Something we haven't yet developed a device to measure and something far more subtle than "Ooh, the ghost of Uncle Jerry is following me around."

I have indeed run into two or three people who seem to have that intuition many mistake for psychic or channeling abilities. If indeed all matter is interconnected, then it would go far towards explaining the seemingly genuine intuitive abilities of some. Why we get a 'funny feeling' when we walk into a certain building or meet a certain person. How we can tell we're being watched, how twins or close relatives can 'just tell' when something is up with their loved one on the other side of the country, that kind of thing.

That, and the atoms in our body are constantly moving about, in and out of us. No one atom in your body today was there 5-7 years ago. The next breath you take might contain a carbon atom that once resided in your husband. Very trippy when you think about it!
"If indeed all matter is interconnected, then it would go far towards explaining the seemingly genuine intuitive abilities of some."

There has been zero scientific evidence of anyone ever having more than 5 senses and there has been many tests. There are presently almost 7 billion of us. You'd think, if any of these ideas were true, someone would have displayed their 6th sense by now.

The fact is we all have maximum 5 senses. Stories about more are just that, stories. It's the same old BS as religion, Nostradamus and magic spells. Imaginative people dream up crap and others buy it because it allows them to think they are more than just an evolved ape.



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