I usually manage to fall asleep at 3 am, preceded by an hour or so of mind wanderings. The mind wanderings tend to be thoughts that I’ve thought 100 times before. Occasionally though, I come across a raw, untouched thought that hasn’t been combed over, thought over, talked about, or processed. The other night, it was death. Truthfully, I haven’t given death itself much thought. I didn’t either as a Christian. As a person, I have always avoided the thought of death.
I have been to exactly 3 funerals. The first was my grandmothers when I was 5. I didn’t understand why I didn’t have one of those “fun” bags with coloring books and snacks I got in church. The second funeral I went to was for my late guinea pig Fluffy. The third was the funeral of my moms best friend Maureen, who I had only met a handful of times. She was a single woman, the same age as my mom, who had adopted a daughter from China. Her adopted daughter was probably 12 years old when her mom died. And at the funeral I sobbed. I mean, I totally lost it. And I do not like to cry in front of other people, especially my family. I did not understand why everyone else at the funeral managed to keep it together. And an open casket?!?! I wanted to throw up. I was surprised by my strong reaction to the death of someone I hardly knew, so I just tried to block everything from the funeral out.
About a year later, a close friend asked if I was afraid of death to which I answered with an unhesitating “No”. She was shocked by that. She wanted to know how I couldn’t be afraid of death. I said because I knew I was going to heaven, and once I got to heaven I wouldn’t miss anything on earth and everything would be amazing. But my friend wasn’t asking about life after death. She was talking about dying itself. The process in which the human body stops living and breathing. And after I thought about it some more, I realized, shit, dying is scary. Then I did my best to not think about it again.
As I lay in bed at 3 am, I realized that I have to accept that I am going to die. That it might hurt. That it might be sad. That (hopefully) other people will be sad and miss me. One day I will cease to exist and so will all of my family and all of my friends and all of the people I don’t like. There will be a time in my life when I have to go without someone that is very close to me everyday.
Overall, the whole idea of death is much more peaceful as an atheist than as a Christian. Heaven and hell cause so much grief in families and relationships. You’re told life in heaven will be better than you could ever imagine, and you won’t miss your friends or parents or even your spouse. You don’t get to be married in heaven. You don’t get to have you dog in heaven. Everything you know to be wonderful and happy in your life is diminished by saying that really, in comparison, it’s nothing. What’s even the point? As an atheist, I don’t worry about what will happen to me when I die. That’s peace. Peace isn’t knowing that I’ll be floating around not missing everything that I have that is wonderful while at the same time someone I know and possibly love is eternally suffering for not pleasing a jealous god.
I am content with the life I have. I seek to fill it with as much happiness and love as I can, and then one day I’ll die. The End.