Guest post from an atheist mortician.

Guest post goodness below from my roommate and good friend Cambridge, the upbeat mortician.  She has recently started a blog about death, which you should read since she’s an expert and all.

/bad sales job


Hello!

I’m JT’s roommate!

My name is Cambridge!

I touch dead people and get paid for it!

I’m currently serving my apprenticeship at a local funeral home and, in less than 6 months, I’ll be taking my licensing exams to become a fully licensed funeral director/embalmer in the state of Ohio.

JT’s been offering me this opportunity to do a guest-blog for a while now and I’ve finally conjured up the inspiration (thanks, coffee.) to write something worthwhile.

One of my favourite assumptions from the families that I serve is that I’m a Christian. I mean, I have to be. Obviously. No one could possibly do the work that I do, with the compassion and empathy that I have, and be an atheist.

The thing is that I can do what I do because I truly, genuinely, and whole-heartedly want every single person who walks through the doors of my funeral home to feel better. Death is not easy to handle; it causes us to feel all sorts of things that our culture doesn’t prepare us for and often, people just don’t know what to do. Try to recall the last time you felt helpless and there wasn’t anyone there to lead you through it. Sure, you figured it out but wouldn’t it have been a lot easier if there was someone there helping you?

Grieving is extremely hard work and often goes unrecognized by everyone around you. This is where I come in. I let people know that it’s okay to cry. It’s safe here, in front of me. I won’t judge you for being sad or angry or hurt or depressed or resentful. Just let me take care of everything because I want you to go home and take care of yourself.

Really.

No, really.

Having compassion is not hard but showing compassion can be incredibly difficult. Most of us don’t know how to deal with seeing someone in a visible state of sadness; some of us choose to find comfort in an imagined protector so that we can avoid the messy work of having to actually deal with a grieving person. It’s a lot easier to offer up a tenuous amelioration (“it’s God’s will” for the religious or “he lived a good life” for the secular) and mentally absolve yourself from ever having to actually DO anything. Because sad people make us awkward. Because our culture tells us that being sad is wrong.

So, really, our helping others comes from helping ourselves first. If I may oh-so-ironically borrow a passage from Ye Olde Good Booke “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5) You can start helping those who are sad by first genuinely accepting that feeling sad is not wrong. Next time you’re feeling a ‘negative’ emotion, just try to feel it and see what it’s like; get it know it so you can recognize it in others. It’s kind of like really tasting something instead of chewing it up as fast as you can and then gulping it down: when you spend time appreciating the individual components, it can give you insight on how they interplay on a grander scale. With that knowledge, you can stop being afraid of sadness and help others through it which is something, I guarantee, they will remember.

I’m sure you were expecting a blog post that was a little less touchy-feely and something with more details about gross guts and stuff.

lol tricked you into learning.I’m happy to answer any questions about death, just leave them in the comments here or on my blog!

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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