Get the Tissues Ready…

If you’re having a great day today, let’s put a stop to that. Read these beautiful pieces (edited by the people behind “This American Life”) about a handful of people who died this year and whose stories may not be very well-known.

The one about Richard Geller really gets to me for obvious reasons.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Istj04

    I lost a sister-in-law to cancer 4 days ago, and being the only open atheist in the family, it has been horribly lonely, and incredibly annoying to hear all the “deity-oriented”, and “after-life-place-based” comments. This is in ADDITION TO hearing “MERRY Christmas” all god-damned day! It sucks to lose a family member, and sucks even worse to lose a family member at a holiday time who WAS the “reason” the family came together for this particular holiday. We pulled it off again though, vacancy notwithstanding. I have been wondering for the last 4 days, and will keep wondering if us atheists grieve a little harder for the loss of a loved one since we do know that the best “after-life” a deceased person has, is in our own memories of them. I guess that’s why they get the “heaven” of our memories, and we get the HELL of their physical loss. 

    • rhodent

      First, my condolences.

      With regard to your question about whether atheists grieve harder: I can’t speak for anyone else, but I find that I have not grieved very much for the people in my life who have died since I became an atheist.  However, this is at least in part due to the fact that they were either not all that close to me (for example, a couple of co-workers), or else they were at least in their 70s (all but one at least in their 80s, in fact).  For the ones that were so old, I found it much easier to deal with because I knew they had lived a long, full life.  I have no way to be certain, but I suspect that I would have not handled it nearly as well if a cousin or brother had died.

      • Istj04

        That’s another perspective-the closer the relative, the “harder”/longer the grief. Its understandable a sibling or parent will be grieved over longer and harder, then a co-worker, or friend.

    • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

      My sincere condolences. 
      I lost an aunt last year to cancer, and while I wasn’t close to her, it still hit me hard.  If you wish to be in touch with other atheists who have lost loved ones, then may I suggest the folks at the Facebook page Grief Beyond Belief (if you’re not aware of them already)? 
      https://www.facebook.com/faithfreegriefsupport

      They are very supportive. 

      • Istj04

        Thank you for the FB page reference. It has been “liked” without even seeing all the comments on it! Greatly appreciated! 

  • Rich Wilson

    I have a friend who has a distant 18 year old relative who had a stroke, and signs are pointing to locked in syndrome 
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locked-in_syndrome Even from my distance, getting occasional email updates, it can’t but weigh heavily on me.

  • Trace

    ‘Take one and pass it down…” :(  this is the best I can do since I don’t know how to make crying emoticons.

  • Amazonfeet

    The Uneasy Rider story was very moving as well…

  • Natasha Gow

    I’ve recently lost three family members (in the last five months). A Grandfather, a grandmother and an aunt. The first two deaths happened three months apart (My Nanna simply couldn’t go on without her life partner it would seem) These were non religious ceremonies – We struggled at first to ‘fill in’ the gaps that had been left by leaving out hymns, prayers and committals. Instead we replaced this with poems, extended and multiple eulogies from a couple of different people. Photo’s of the family and favorite songs also became heavily important. There was no religion at all in these, no mention of God. The service was entirely focused on the person who had died.

    Contrasting to this was my aunts funeral only a few weeks ago. It was an Anglican service conducted in a church and by a minister. I fully respect that it was a religious service and it was beautiful. But for such an amazing person, I really noticed how all of the God ‘fluff’ distracted everyone from what a good and wonderfully person she really was.

    I guess, at a funeral you only have so much time to remember a person. I know when I pass, my request will be no religion, more about me. Because really thats the last party I’ll ever attend, I may as well be a little selfish.

    Going to write a blog post in more depth about this (the little comment here was nothing compared to the detail I was going to involve)

    tash- http://www.bethecog.blogspot.com

  • Mihangel apYrs

    Istj04

    you have my condolences.  At the moment I have a friend who is terminal and who may last another couple of months.  This Xmas has been difficult for all who love him.

    As an atheist you will have rejected the concept of an afterlife, but really no-one knows.  No godnothing else.

    Peep’s wished to love his friends while they live, and forget them when they died; a reasonable approach.  All we can do is remember how WE feel: the funeral is for us, the pain is ours.  All we do, as people, is to try and move on, and bring remembrance out on high days


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