Hello everyone,

I'm going to be sending out thank yous to FaceBook friends after the passing of my Mother a beautiful woman who lived a full life and passed at age 85. 

As I'm sure as many of you know, when something like this happens or when something difficult is going on in someone's life, generally people will say this, " So sorry to hear the news, I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers."

I see it as kind, but I have thing about the prayer thing. People who really know me, generally say I'm thinking about you or can I do anything to help? I think I need to point out that I would rather not have prayers. I don't want it to be a diatribe against religion, just point out that some of us prefer just to be in your thoughts. If it opens a discussion, then I'm fine with it, but they better be ready to not be offended by me expressing how I got to my lack of belief. 

This is what I thought I would post about prayers being offered:

"And lastly, I know I am going out on a limb here, but it is the issue of prayers many have offered. My Mother was religious. I am not. I don’t belittle any offer of prayer for her, I know it is a sincere belief and offered because people genuinely are concerned. For me, the idea that you all were just thinking about us in her last days made it better for me."

Can anyone offer any other advice? Should I ask for debate? Or if someone responds in a religious way should explain from there?

I live in California, so many of my friends are tolerant and already know I'm a non-theist. 

Thanks for any help 


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Replies to This Discussion

You also don't want to sound like a dick.

These people are offering condolences in the best way they know how. You shouldn't make a big issue of it. However, when you thank them, you can remind them that life is short, and they can honor your mom's memory by asking them spending some quality time with their own loved ones.


Jim AKA Gregor_Samsa

Hi Mark-

First off, my condolences to you on the death of your mother.  Your description of her was lovely.  I hope your fond memories of her will be of comfort to you today, and always.

I am not sure what your motives are for including this in your thank you note.  I am going to guess that you have been bombarded with offers of prayers from people who are saddened by your loss.  Perhaps these people are grieving as well, if they knew your mother.  If it is really important to you that something about prayer be included, I thought Jennifer's advice was spot on.  Before including anything, however, I would consider what benefit it would bring you (and the receivers of the note) to have this sentiment attached to a thank you. If you can't see any, it might be better to just skip it. 

Thank you all, I don't think I will include it at this time, I think if it comes up in the course of conversation in person, I will explain my position. I don't know if I gain anything by including it in a thank you. 

Susan, do you think it sounded dickish? I think it would be better for me to convey it in person, so the dick factor isn't apparent.

Jennifer, I think "issue" most likely would sound adversarial, thanks.

Thanks Gregor, will do.

Thanks Annie, I've taken your response into account, too and will let it roll. There were many people who said they would pray for her and my family. I guess writing it down will suffice.

I do have to tell short story about her funeral. My oldest brother is a rapture Christian. Jesus is coming soon, probably 5 years, as he said 10 years ago.

Anyway, my other brother is an atheist so I handled the party afterward, my brother handled flowers and other things. We agreed my Christian brother would handle the pastor, since my Mom was religious.

Id din't want it to be a recruitment moment as is the case at too many funerals, but everything came so fast I never conveyed that to my brother.

Well everything went fine, moderately religious passages, sedate for all purposes. Many people stood up and told great stories and how much my mother meant to them, she was just a fun and great friend to many. I could only wish when I go, shared stories like hers happen at my funeral. It was simply amazing.

Until the final bit. The Pastor stood up to tell one last story so all the grandchildren will know where "Gooma" (her nickname" is. He called it the story of heaven. I thought, ok easy boy, he started telling about "the first historical record, the story of Adam and Eve." He then proceeded to get into Genesis, the snake, the apple, etc. I thought he was going to start getting into the begats.

We were running late because so many people stood put to tell their stories about my Mother, my favorite being as told by one of the teachers at the school she worked at, "she was so much fun, especially the time she rested hand on the steel support pole and did stripper spin around the pole as she was talking."

Back to the pastor, I gave him the "roll it up" finger roll, because he seriously sounded like the begats were coming. He did roll it up after about another minute, though, but did give me a "funny" look.

Thanks so much for your input!! I appreciate it.

I love the juxtaposition of the creation story and your mom pretending to be doing a pole dance.  She sounds like she lived her life well, and for that, congratulations are in order.

I have found that in my own life, I rarely regret holding my tongue in situations like these, but often regret speaking up.  I do, however, spend a great deal of time trying to come up with a pithy response to the lady at the grocer's who wishes me a "blessed day" every time I shop, or the people who offer to pray for me.  Right now, I just smile and go on my way.

I love the tradition of telling stories about the deceased at a funeral.  It brings much more humanity to the event than anything a preacher could possibly say.

Oh I forgot to mention, in the middle of the Pastor's Story of Heaven story, my 12 year old son leaned over and said, "This is creepy!". The thing the Pastor doesn't understand is kid's can handle reality very well, no mythological comfort is necessary. My son, at 12, knows that we all know we have this one life we have and he wants to make the best of it. 

I'm amazed the things he comes up with and the questions he asks.

That sounds good to me, Mark.

Mark, I surely can relate to this issue I went through a similar situation myself 5 years ago. It is so hard to stay silent but you have to ask yourself is it really worth the debate when Atheists alreay get a bad rep. My thoughts on the facebook issue is why has't a xian create a spin- off website called faithbook where the can get out all the praise the lords and halleluias and the god is goods out of their system and leave the rest of us alone. My Dad's side and my former xian school mates make facebook a very annoying place for me and I have often typed comments that I never posted so I can immagine your anxiety here. I am deeply sorry for the loss of your Mother I am glad she lived a full life most don't get that privalege these days. Take care




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