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Coping with loss

Any topics that are primarily about humanism or other non-religious life stances fit in here.
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Sillycat
Posts: 19
Joined: April 7th, 2008, 1:45 pm

Re: Coping with loss

#21 Post by Sillycat » April 8th, 2008, 1:39 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

There is a conflict between my emotions and my logic when it comes to this topic. A part of me has always wanted to believe in God, to believe in the answers that religion gives, particularly in the comfort of meeting your loved ones again after we are dead. My brain, however, tells me that this belief defies logic and that once we are dead there is nothing.

The idea that there is nothing after death is quite appealing, no pain, no sorrow, no conciousness, just peace. Though this is little comfort to those who are left behind and have to face the void their loved one has left in their life.

That is the downside of being a logical thinker I suppose, you can't fool yourself into believing everything will be alright, which is how I feel about religion, it's like lying to yourself. Yet part of me would like to have faith, because it seems easier than facing the stark truth of life and loss.

I think it takes a special kind of person to face the truth head on without flinching, those who cannot manage it either avoid the truth completely or like me, see the truth but still wish it wasn't so.

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grammar king
Posts: 869
Joined: March 14th, 2008, 2:42 am

Re: Coping with loss

#22 Post by grammar king » April 8th, 2008, 3:17 pm

I've had thought on this several times since becoming a humanist, and there are a few posts on it scattered throughout my blog.

A few weeks ago we had a man come to us at the Student Humanist Society who had a terminal illness and was startled by the humanist philosophy that there is nothing after death. I'm not scared of death. I'm sure after I've died it'll be just like it was before I was born - nothing.

I take two approaches to this issue - firstly, we do live on in a way after death, by our impact that we've left on the world. You may have had children, in which case you live on very physically in the DNA that you've passed on. But I think the memes are more important. How you've brought up your child will have an effect on their children and their children and so on. And of course how you've influenced other people in their lives, regardless of whether they're related to you, makes a profound difference. Everything that you've done has changed the world in some small sense.

The second approach is that it's better to have lived and died than never to have lived at all. I know it's a bit of a cop-out, but it illustrates how we have to live each day to the fullest. I also like to remind myself of the opening lines to Unweaving the Rainbow:
“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could be here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, who are here.”
Maybe slightly too biological for my liking but it gets the point across well.

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Alan C.
Posts: 10356
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 3:35 pm

Re: Coping with loss

#23 Post by Alan C. » April 8th, 2008, 4:17 pm

Last summer I read "A short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson, and posted this in the book thread, I think it warrants being posted here as well.
The bad news is that atoms are fickle and their time of devotion is fleeting- fleeting indeed. Even a long human life adds up to only about 650,000 hours. And when that modest milestone flashes into view, or at some other point thereabouts, for reasons unknown your atoms will close you down, then silently disassemble and go off to be other things. And that's it for you.
I love the idea of my atoms "going off to be other things".
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

Maria Mac
Site Admin
Posts: 9307
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:34 pm

Re: Coping with loss

#24 Post by Maria Mac » April 8th, 2008, 6:20 pm

Sillycat wrote:There is a conflict between my emotions and my logic when it comes to this topic. A part of me has always wanted to believe in God, to believe in the answers that religion gives, particularly in the comfort of meeting your loved ones again after we are dead. My brain, however, tells me that this belief defies logic and that once we are dead there is nothing.

The idea that there is nothing after death is quite appealing, no pain, no sorrow, no conciousness, just peace. Though this is little comfort to those who are left behind and have to face the void their loved one has left in their life.

That is the downside of being a logical thinker I suppose, you can't fool yourself into believing everything will be alright, which is how I feel about religion, it's like lying to yourself. Yet part of me would like to have faith, because it seems easier than facing the stark truth of life and loss.

I think it takes a special kind of person to face the truth head on without flinching, those who cannot manage it either avoid the truth completely or like me, see the truth but still wish it wasn't so.
I agree with you 100% Sillycat.

At one level, death is easier for us to face than those who believe there may be something more but can't know what that something is - especially if they believe there is a possibility that they are going on to face something unpleasant. Last year I was very saddened to be told by an acquaintance that he had visited a dying friend of his who was genuinely dying in terror of the possibility that he would soon be in Hell. :sad:

But losing our loved ones and knowing, as we do, that we will never see them again is so hard. Although we can draw comfort from memories, sometimes memories make the loss all the more painful. Ultimately, only the passage of time makes bereavement easier to bear. I don't fear the state of being dead - why would I? But as I get older and feel the effects of ageing both mentally and physically, I become aware that my time is running out and that there is so much I am going to miss after my death that I would like to stick around for. And that just makes me sad.

Sillycat
Posts: 19
Joined: April 7th, 2008, 1:45 pm

Re: Coping with loss

#25 Post by Sillycat » April 9th, 2008, 11:01 am

Hi Maria

Thats part of what makes me resent religion, why should that person die in fear of going to hell, when there is absolutely no proof of any sort that it's in the slightest bit true, yet because centuries of social dogma people actually believe this stuff. It does more harm than good in a lot of respects.

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