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.


9 thoughts on “Death

  1. wonderful post. Thank you. I felt similar after my deconversion. I was worried I would miss heaven, but I find a lot more peace knowing I am going back to the very same stars that made me.

    • It is really neat to think that we are made up of the same stuff as the stars! Knowing that we are just part of the flow of energy within the great, big universe gives peace of mind, doesn’t it?

      • I never thought about it quite like that, but I really do like knowing that. Religion is all about being significant and you don’t learn to be truly humble because you are taught that the world is created with you in mind. But there is so much beauty in being insignificant. Like you said we are made up as the same stuff as the stars! You can step back and really and fully appreciate how insignificant you are to the world, and how significant you are to “your world” that you create in your family and friends and career.

  2. Great post! As a former Christian, I can also identify with what you have wrote. Growing up, my parents, pastor, and other adults would tell me that Christians don’t have to worry about dying, because we go to Heaven. It’s a comforting lie when you’re growing up, the finality of death doesn’t hit you until someone close to you dies. Whenever the grieving process ends, you finally realize that you’ll never see, hear, or be with that person again. It is a bit scary and sad to think about that, but it’s an unquestionable truth. I think that knowing we will all die, makes life even more meaningful. We can live our lives without regret, taking in all that life has to offer – enjoying the good experiences, and learning from the learning from the bad [ones].

  3. MC,

    Thank you for this post.

    When I look back at the life I was living – I lived in a life of FEAR. FEAR of hell – that alone shook me to the core. But now were free, man…

  4. I really appreciated this post. It was a lot harder for me to accept death, and for awhile, feeling meaningless. It took me a while to learn that I can create my on meaning.

    • It’s not just a blog about religion, but about critiquing it. We need more blogs like this one! I agree that too many people tiptoe around the subject of religion, out of fear of offending someone. But, that’s just it… it’s out of FEAR- the one thing religion uses to keep people within the fold. I hope there are more people willing to blog about deconstructing religion, and how it affects human psychology.

  5. Pingback: Live everyday like you are Dying | The BitterSweet End

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