Sunday Morning Survey – ‘How Do Atheists Deal With Death?’

“For something so precious and pure, there has to be an exorbitant price. That price is the hole in my heart, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” – George Hrab, ‘The Most Dog’, Non-Coloring Book.

Please send in your commiserations to the Skepticality podcast on the passing of their little mascot and much loved friend, Remy the pugdog.


I was going to write today’s Sunday Survey on something completely different. Mostly because it’s kind of irked me for a while that some friends have been contributors to a particular field for a long time, and I always think they never get enough acknowledgement for their hard work, and so on and so forth.

I was trying to find a ‘nice’ way of putting it, but I know that those kinds of things just end up with people taking it the wrong way… and I even ended up having a group of people target me for bullying the last time I wrote about this kind of subject… and it’s just the kind of thing you need emotional energy to deal with, whenever you think about standing up for yourself. Oh, and not forgetting the slim hope that your initial message actually made any difference to the situation, or just made things worse. Emotional energy that I really don’t have in reserve at the moment, since I’ve kind of been an immune-system shambles recently.

Which kind of got me thinking about resilience. It’s a topic that I did a little research into, about three years ago for someone else’s study into disengagement and academic achievement; what resources do we draw upon that enable us to persevere in trying times.

Then in the space of two hours, I learned of the death of two much-loved pets of two separate groups of friends online – and found myself in tears, reading their owners’ announcements. Which, if you think about it, is an indication that I’m really not up to writing anything on this blog that’s going to create unwanted conflict.

But it did get me thinking about how I’ve lost pets in the past and how I’m likely (looking at the age of my pets and the recent habit of one of them becoming less and less active over the past year) to have to draw upon a number of resources to deal with future loss. Resources that will not include religious belief.

Today’s Sunday Morning Survey. How do atheists deal with death in the face of well-meaning (and sometimes, admittedly, not very sensitive) comments and discussions? 

About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a former Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide. She regularly presents a news and current affairs show on RTRFM's The Mag (tune in on Tuesdays!).
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science. She files her nails while they drag the lake.