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Old 12-31-2013, 12:39 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shirina View Post
I think visiting gravesites and talking to the deceased is a throwback to ancestor worship, the first type of "religion" that occurred before deity worship.

Losing a close loved one is very difficult - it leaves such a massive hole in one's life, especially if it is a parent or child, people you are accustomed to being with you. Friends, yeah, they may have meant a lot to you, but we all know that friends can come and go, but your mom? No, she is unique, irreplaceable, no one will EVER love you like your mother did. Visiting her gravesite is a way in which to alleviate the emptiness, to fill that gaping void just a little bit - at least until you've worked your way through the grieving process. Quite often, with time, people visit gravesites less and less as the realities of life begin taking root once again.

But many of us still think that our loved ones are looking down on us, watching our actions, judging us. We believe that we can make our deceased parents proud or ashamed, we believe they can give us guidance and advice through mystical symbology or bizarre events, and we definitely want to be in good standing with our ancestors when we arrive in the afterlife. Hmm, doesn't that sound familiar ... ?

At some point in our early history, we began replacing ancestors with deities - not a good thing in my book because it allowed for organized religion and now look where we are. Ancestor worship was far more personal and it couldn't be organized in the same way a central deity can be.

But at any rate, as an atheist, I can't say for certain there is no afterlife. Who knows? I do not have the wisdom or the experience to say definitively that we just cease to exist. I recently lost my grandfather, so family visits to the grave are common - but there are other family members buried up there and no one has visited their graves in years, perhaps even decades. As with their graves, visits to my grandfather's grave will cease at some point as we come to grips with his loss.

I do not believe, however, that my grandfather is looking down at us from on high, watching and cheering and booing us as we live our lives as if he is watching us on television - and equally as powerless to interfere with the unveiling plot of our stories. Who really wants to think that, anyway? The last thing I want is my grandfather watching my every move, even when I'm alone, so he can nitpick my decisions to death when I pass into the great beyond. No thanks, I enjoy my privacy.

But I do understand the sometimes irresistable urge to give voice to things you never had the chance to say to someone recently deceased. Going to the grave makes it more ... real. It gives your words a focus, even if only upon a slab of stone. Because that stone is a representation of your loved one, a symbol, a stand-in for the person who is no longer there. We touch the stone, caress it, even kiss it as if the stone is the flesh of those we miss.

That doesn't mean we really believe in an afterlife, or that our loved ones can actually hear us. But it does help in bringing a sense of closure, something that is very important from a psychological perspective. Without it, moving on can be very difficult if not impossible for some.

Well-thought-out and illuminating. Your explanation is among the best provided here on what purpose we as non-believers have for visiting the final resting places of deceased loved ones and why we do what we do when there. This is the essence of what illumination and insight I was looking for (along with the valuable insights of contributors Nozzferrahtoo and Mordant as well, among others).
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Old 12-31-2013, 08:21 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nozzferrahhtoo View Post
Simple. Mental focus.

Taking out time to focus on memories of dead loved ones is a good thing.
I don't have any dead loved ones. I hate my family.
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Old 01-04-2014, 03:30 AM
 
Location: Montreal, Quebec
15,087 posts, read 12,028,577 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UsAll View Post
Here is a question for those who consider themselves an ATHEIST (especially a strong atheist/gnostic atheist . . . but any atheist can otherwise answer). Just curious as to what truly occurs in your actual thinking:



If you are an ATHEIST and you make regular or occasional visits to a CEMETERY to visit the FINAL RESTING PLACE of any of your loved ones (parents, relatives, children, your marriage partner, close friends, et al), why do you go IF YOU DONíT BELIEVE THERE IS AN AFTERLIFE and therefore that deceased person is, in your thinking, completely extinct forevermore (i.e., no mind, no soul, no spirit of that person continued on after their death)?

That is, if that deceased loved one is completely extinct in every conceivable way and always will be, then why do you go to the cemetery (with whatever degree of frequency)? That person will never know that you were there, will never be there in spirit for you to speak to or cry to or to share your thoughts or feelings with or anything else. They no longer exist in any way, shape or form (not physically, not mentally/psychologically, not in spirit or soul, not in any way). The ultimate question for me to ask of you is: Is your visiting the cemetery (with whatever degree of regularity) for your loved one(s) a demonstration that you actually wish or else secretly believe that this deceased loved one actually DOES exist in spirit? That is, are your visits to the cemetery a reflection of some degree of wishful thinking on your part?

Because, if you are correct that there is no afterlife, you can think of that person and pay tribute to them in your mind anytime and anyplace that you are locationally situated (without having to ever make any visits to the cemetery) if they are, in fact, extinct in every conceivable way. You donít EVER have to visit their final resting place in the cemetery. They wonít know the difference (after all, they do not exist anymore and therefore no continuation of their mind or soul has occurred for them to know in any way of your visits or your talking to or sharing your feelings and thoughts with them wherever you are locationally situated . . . whether at the cemetery or anyplace else).


Please satisfy my curiosity . . . and perhaps your own curiosity as to how your fellow C-D contributors or posters on this thread think about this issue.
I don't go to visit my parents' graves. My parents aren't there, it's just some old bones.
Sometimes I'll go to check on the upkeep, but that's about it.
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Old 01-05-2014, 07:44 PM
 
Location: Vermont
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UsAll View Post
Is your visiting the cemetery (with whatever degree of regularity) for your loved one(s) a demonstration that you actually wish or else secretly believe that this deceased loved one actually DOES exist in spirit? That is, are your visits to the cemetery a reflection of some degree of wishful thinking on your part?[/b]
No.
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Old 01-06-2014, 01:39 AM
 
Location: Guangzhou, China
9,782 posts, read 13,372,272 times
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I drove out to our family cemetery plot in the Idaho high desert before I left the West. Doing this required me to drive about eight hours in what would have otherwise been a completely arbitrary direction to everything else of importance in my life.

Did I do this because I wanted to talk with my grandfather, or aunts and uncles, or cousins? No; I don't believe that it's possible to "talk" to them anymore, that they no longer exist in any physical, tangible way. There are imprints of them on the space time continuum all the same that there are imprints of them in my mind. Going there was something that was meditative and reflective for me on a personal level, at a pivotal point in my life.

I pulled up to the cemetery at some time approaching 9pm, not too far from the summer sunset, and pushed the gate back. I drove in and then over to where our plot was, then turned off the key and stepped out. I thought about the years that had interspersed the last time I was there; I was a boy as I helped place my grandfather's ashes into the grave with my dad. We sealed the urn cover with a tube of Testor's glue like I used to build model kits. Their cocker spaniel had gone into a frenzy when we went to bury him and we had to tie her leash around the tow hook of our Chevy to keep her from charging over... my grandmother started to read one of my grandfather's favorite verses from the bible - my grandfather was an Episcopal priest - but choked up and handed it to my dad, saying, "_____, I can't do this." My dad took it and read it instead, in a clear voice. As a boy, I couldn't understand how he could choke the tears back. I looked there at my grandfather's little gold urn, sitting there a few feet into the ground, thinking to myself that was all that remained of the man who fought the Japanese in World War Two and the North Koreans in the Korean War; who'd seen the world, buried one of his own daughters, taught me how to woodwork in the workshop, told generations of our family stories of his adventures and his ruminations on life...

I looked up at the blue, sparsely-cloudy sky. A few sniffles and chokes, the howling of his dog and the gravel under her paws as she clawed at the ground, the clicking of the car rocking on its suspension, and the distant, mute howling of the wind... I asked myself if I really believed that he was there, then, watching this painful spectacle, and I cried at the cruel reality that I really didn't believe it all the same that I cried that this was the symbolic end of the road for the man whose life begat my own, who fought wars and lived adventure and raised a family and had so many experiences that now no one could ever know.

As an adult, I stood there, over these graves, and remembered the stories of those buried below me: my grandmother, the heiress of Chicago socialites who passed away in a sea of dementia that distorted the 2005 Massachusetts springtime into a Lakeshore home in the 1920's; the great uncle who I'd never met, who served in World War One and survived being gassed in a trench but never had children because he couldn't imagine bringing a child into a violent world, buried in his old dress uniform with all his medals; my aunt, a codebreaker for the CIA during the Cold War, who died only months after giving birth to her youngest son, who left letters for each of her children for each of their birthdays until they were eighteen only to have them burned in the fireplace by the woman her husband married two months after her passing; my cousin, killed by an IED in Iraq at the onset of the war, whom I played cars with as a child and rocked out to Metallica and Faith No More as young teens, and whose casket, when I helped carry it from the funeral home to the plane that would take him across the country for the burial, weighed far, far less than what one could possibly expect from the body of an adult man. Lifetimes marked with a name and dates somewhere under the fading Idaho sun, whose stories were simply on repeat in the mind of a tired relative, standing there and thoughtlessly sipping a Red Bull.

I stood there again, and as the sun set and the cemetery darkened, I listened to the cicadas and the tiny pops of contracting metal that eminated from under the hood of my S2000, sitting fifteen feet back, silent after a half day straight of driving; of the wind picking up slightly and a bird chirping a final call to its flock to come back home, to come together and stay safe for the night, in the warm embrace of family.

I said nothing.
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Old 01-06-2014, 03:16 AM
 
2,415 posts, read 2,431,053 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 415_s2k View Post
I drove out to our family cemetery plot in the Idaho high desert before I left the West. Doing this required me to drive about eight hours in what would have otherwise been a completely arbitrary direction to everything else of importance in my life.

Did I do this because I wanted to talk with my grandfather, or aunts and uncles, or cousins? No; I don't believe that it's possible to "talk" to them anymore, that they no longer exist in any physical, tangible way. There are imprints of them on the space time continuum all the same that there are imprints of them in my mind. Going there was something that was meditative and reflective for me on a personal level, at a pivotal point in my life.

I pulled up to the cemetery at some time approaching 9pm, not too far from the summer sunset, and pushed the gate back. I drove in and then over to where our plot was, then turned off the key and stepped out. I thought about the years that had interspersed the last time I was there; I was a boy as I helped place my grandfather's ashes into the grave with my dad. We sealed the urn cover with a tube of Testor's glue like I used to build model kits. Their cocker spaniel had gone into a frenzy when we went to bury him and we had to tie her leash around the tow hook of our Chevy to keep her from charging over... my grandmother started to read one of my grandfather's favorite verses from the bible - my grandfather was an Episcopal priest - but choked up and handed it to my dad, saying, "_____, I can't do this." My dad took it and read it instead, in a clear voice. As a boy, I couldn't understand how he could choke the tears back. I looked there at my grandfather's little gold urn, sitting there a few feet into the ground, thinking to myself that was all that remained of the man who fought the Japanese in World War Two and the North Koreans in the Korean War; who'd seen the world, buried one of his own daughters, taught me how to woodwork in the workshop, told generations of our family stories of his adventures and his ruminations on life...

I looked up at the blue, sparsely-cloudy sky. A few sniffles and chokes, the howling of his dog and the gravel under her paws as she clawed at the ground, the clicking of the car rocking on its suspension, and the distant, mute howling of the wind... I asked myself if I really believed that he was there, then, watching this painful spectacle, and I cried at the cruel reality that I really didn't believe it all the same that I cried that this was the symbolic end of the road for the man whose life begat my own, who fought wars and lived adventure and raised a family and had so many experiences that now no one could ever know.

As an adult, I stood there, over these graves, and remembered the stories of those buried below me: my grandmother, the heiress of Chicago socialites who passed away in a sea of dementia that distorted the 2005 Massachusetts springtime into a Lakeshore home in the 1920's; the great uncle who I'd never met, who served in World War One and survived being gassed in a trench but never had children because he couldn't imagine bringing a child into a violent world, buried in his old dress uniform with all his medals; my aunt, a codebreaker for the CIA during the Cold War, who died only months after giving birth to her youngest son, who left letters for each of her children for each of their birthdays until they were eighteen only to have them burned in the fireplace by the woman her husband married two months after her passing; my cousin, killed by an IED in Iraq at the onset of the war, whom I played cars with as a child and rocked out to Metallica and Faith No More as young teens, and whose casket, when I helped carry it from the funeral home to the plane that would take him across the country for the burial, weighed far, far less than what one could possibly expect from the body of an adult man. Lifetimes marked with a name and dates somewhere under the fading Idaho sun, whose stories were simply on repeat in the mind of a tired relative, standing there and thoughtlessly sipping a Red Bull.

I stood there again, and as the sun set and the cemetery darkened, I listened to the cicadas and the tiny pops of contracting metal that eminated from under the hood of my S2000, sitting fifteen feet back, silent after a half day straight of driving; of the wind picking up slightly and a bird chirping a final call to its flock to come back home, to come together and stay safe for the night, in the warm embrace of family.

I said nothing.
Very very well-developed writing, fit for a published article or a book . . . all of it. An especilly meaningful way of looking at the death of loved ones that you stated was "No; I don't believe that it's possible to "talk" to them anymore, that they no longer exist in any physical, tangible way. There are imprints of them on the space time continuum all the same that there are imprints of them in my mind. Going there was something that was meditative and reflective for me on a personal level, at a pivotal point in my life." (emphasis added by myself). Yes, that is what the death of our loved ones can be said to be: it is probable that they no longer exist in any physical or tangible way (neither in body or spirit) but have left imprints of themselves on the space-time continuum all the same, as well as having left imprints of themselves in our minds (for as long as we can manage to retain our real and accurate memories . . . subject to the ravages of old age or neurodegenerative decline).

Thank you for your contribution to this thread.
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Old 01-06-2014, 04:13 AM
 
Location: Here
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I don't go to cemeteries to visit the graves of expired loved ones. I did go to my dad's grave one Memorial Day to see if an American flag was placed on his grave since he is a veteran, but I happened to be driving by anyway. I would not have made a special trip. I mourned for my parents when they died but since then I have had a lot of fun with "the memories". I jokingly tell stories of my father's time in WWII. I usually refer to him as Yellowstreak Smith. And I will make something up like how he was awarded a medal for leading a hasty retreat and thereby guiding fellow soldiers out of harm's way. I have seen on TV where athletes hit a clutch home run or kick a field goal and they will point to the heavens overhead, supposedly pointing to a passed loved one. A few years ago playing in a casual softball game I got a hit and pointed down in honor of my father while saying, "That one was for you Dad." It got some chuckles. My father is dead so he won't mind. If he were alive he would probably appreciate such nonsense... probably.
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Old 01-07-2014, 10:46 AM
 
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I'm a 'strong' atheist as you put it....and i don't visit the grave site of my grandmother who dies 2 years ago. I miss her terribly and loved her immensely but i'd rather spend the time i would spend going to her grave to instead look at our pictures together and smile remembering.
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Old 01-07-2014, 01:49 PM
 
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I am an atheist and I do not believe in any god(s) or supreme being (s). However, I DO firmly believe there is some sort of afterlife/different existence after our earthly death because I've had too much hardcore evidence in my life which substantiates my belief. I tend to lean toward a quantum physics or dimensional sort of thing. I don't routinely go to cemetaries but if/when I do, it is obviously for my own comfort and need to be close to the dearly departed - purely selfish to be sure. What I do often is talk to the dead where ever I am, pretending they are near me and can hear me. Makes ME feel better and perhaps if they are near by, somehow, maybe it makes them feel better to know they are not forgotten.
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Old 01-07-2014, 06:20 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by usall
why do you go IF YOU DONíT BELIEVE THERE IS AN AFTERLIFE
Closure.
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