The Passing of a Loved One

Greta Christina recently lost her father.

My father died on October 1, 2012, at the age of 79.

My dad, like me, was an atheist. And when you’re an atheist and a non-believer, and the people you love die, you don’t get to tell yourself that they aren’t really dead. You don’t get to tell yourself that you’re going to see them again someday, in some hypothetical post-death existence that somehow both is and is not life. You have to accept that death is really permanent, and really final.

This may be surprising to many believers… but atheist ways of dealing with death and grief are not actually dire, or hopeless, or without consolation. I’ve been surprised, in fact, at how comforting my humanism and my naturalism have been during my grief.

Go over there and read it. It’s that rarest of obits, one from an atheist. Illuminating, uncompromising, and very, very touching.

  • Brett McCoy

    My dad, who was also an atheist, passed away a couple of years ago. I’m sad he’s gone, of course, and have dreams that he’s still around. But I don’t see how how pretending he’s in heaven (or more likely hell, in his case, hahaha) will make me feel better. What makes me happy is thinking about our great life together and how much of an impact he had on my life, my personal philosophy, etc etc etc.

  • No Light

    My atheist father-in-law died suddenly in June. We were left in charge of the arrangements, and had to fight my brother-in-law who was insisting on a full religious affair.

    We stood our ground, and arranged a beautiful humanist service. The main eulogy was written by me, and delivered by my partner. I couldn’t be there (to my utter heartbreak. I was still too ill).

    My eulogy was hilarious, the music was beautiful, and people went to my partner and told her “We’ve never enjoyed a funeral before. You did him proud.” It made our grief so much easier to bear.

    I hope Greta has a smooth ride through her grief.

  • bmiller

    This was indeed a lovely tribute to her father. thanks for bringing this.

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