Less Self-Imposed Suffering for Atheists

I posted a note a few days ago about my young brother-in-law who killed him self just this past Saturday. Obviously, emotions are very raw still and I wouldn't dream of saying what I am posting here to any of my family members. My sisters-in-law and their parents are now struggling with exactly where is he NOW? One says he could not possibly be "saved" and so must be in Hell. Another says, he must be being punished by God before he enters Heaven, and others say he must be in Heaven already. How terrible that these people are torturing themselves with imagining terrible scenarios for this young man. Isn't the grief of the loss enough? As an atheist, I feel the loss very keenly! I face my emotions honestly and it's not pretty. At least I am not tormented by imagining further pain for this boy we all loved.

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Comment by L Ross on July 16, 2013 at 6:19am

So sorry about your brother-in-law.  According to the inadequate, nearly illegible, police report of the non-investigation of my only son's death last August, he died by suicide.  It could have been murder, but I'll never know.  He was shot in the back of his head with an illegal, unregistered gun that, according to his friend was not his gun.  My estranged Xian sister and my son's aunt took over the arrangements before I was notified.  The coroner wouldn't let me see his body.  He was my only child, and I'll never have another.  He wasn't married and had no children.  The sister hounded me with her Xian beliefs.  Now she won't return my calls or emails.  The aunt had my son cremated on my birthday and didn't tell me until a few weeks later.  I've suffered terribly over all this.  I feel guilty for not seeing my son last summer, although I wanted to very badly.  I feel angry with my neglectful husband (not my son's father) who wouldn't let me see my son before it happened.  I've been trying for the past 10 months to deal with my son's death:  the shock, guilt, anger.  The only support groups near my home are all Xian and made me feel worse.  Luckily, someone on this website suggested I read Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning.  I'd read it some time in the 80's, but re-reading it was helpful.  I could really use some atheist support.  If anyone has suggestions for a broken-hearted atheist Mom, I'd love to hear them.

Comment by Barbara on January 9, 2009 at 12:18pm
Your family members' reactions really give the lie to the statements that I heard from the pastor at the last church funeral service I went to, that somehow having faith in an afterlife is comforting and it must be so terribly hard for people who don't believe to find peace with death. As I looked around the church, it didn't seem to me that anyone there was particularly comforted by their belief. I agree with you that it's sad that those family members are tormenting themselves needlessly. I also consider a belief in an afterlife to be a distraction from confronting and dealing with grief.
Comment by It's just Matt on January 9, 2009 at 7:56am
Indeed,worrying about any of those scenarios leads only to more suffering.

I'm writing a story about suicide if you,anyone you know,or anyone who reads this, wants to assist in anyway.

(My goal is to clear up miss-understandings that arise from self-inflicted death)
Comment by Brad on January 8, 2009 at 10:34pm
I'm sorry to hear about your brother(in-law). I can relate as I have came up with every way imaginable to commit suicide, and I finally figured out that I could never do it, for some ODD reason my will to live is alot stronger than my misery. I've been right on the threshold many times, for many reasons, two divorces, being an atheist, feeling like there's light years between my family and I....the list is long.
Hey just wanted to say soryy to hear and I hope that the ignorance stops.
Comment by carpooltohell on January 8, 2009 at 10:05pm
That's terrible news. I'm am very sorry to hear about your brother.

I think the reason alot of people try and come up with answers to these questions, or why these questions exist in the first place, could possibly be a result of their not wanting to let themselves feel the pain of the loss. By saying that God is punishing him, or that he is suffering in hell, allows them to avoid the very real and down-to-Earth emotions which are natural for us to feel when a loved one goes in that way. We don't like to wonder what we could have done to change what happened, because that means that we would have to look at ourselves and question the way we live and interpret the world. I'm not suggesting that these people are bad by any standard. I'm suggesting that they are simply afraid to confront their emotions and/or their actions which may have had some, even insignificant, impact on this horrible situation.

Again, very sorry for your loss.



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