On Yahoo! Answers, Jomamoeuskadi asked the followingquestion:
I was brought up Catholic but recently lost all belief and now class myself as atheist. I do not believe in any deity or higher being.
However, recently when I've been upset by events in the news (or personal life) I`m finding it hard because I feel like I want to pray for someone i.e. somebody who died or is suffering.
But then I really ,really don`t think there is anyone to pray to and I feel even worse.
I suppose I`m trying to say that I find it hard sometimes without having the comfort of any type of god to appeal to in hard times.
Have any other atheists ever felt this way? How do you cope when faced with tragic news?
Here's my answer, which she selected among some really GOOD answers as her favorite:
Given your upbringing, the impulses you are having in reaction to tragic news and events is entirely understandable. You are at that stage where your old coping strategies have been undercut by your rational evaluation of their underlying assumptions. But you've not yet established and practiced new ways of coping.
What I do in these instances is to try to gain a larger perspective.
Here's an example of how my internal dialogue goes: I'm disappointed because my hopes and expectations of life have been proved to be unrealistic. Reality has supplied me with me a lesson to learn, and if I want to, I can learn it now. Or I can wait until later. In the grand scheme of things, periods of joy are always followed by periods of sorrow, no state of affairs can ever claim to be truly permanent, and wisdom is much more a byproduct of pain than it is of pleasure. People throughout the ages have, in some way, had to face this exact type of problem, and despite their belief systems, they have found ways to cope. The good news is that I am standing on their shoulders, and I can learn from others how to grow from this experience, but only if I'm open to letting it nourish me more than create fear or hurt.
Several years ago my life partner died of cancer, I've had some career trouble, and I've had to deal with various reactions to my being gay. Thoughts like those above have proved beneficial. I hope that helps you.