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Old 11-23-2007, 11:20 AM
 
Location: Nashville, Tn
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I have a good friend Cathy who I've known since I was in my early twenties. Her brother was one of my best friends. We were in a band together and I became friends with his whole family. I moved away and lost touch with them for a long time. A couple of years ago I discovered on the internet that my friend had died of a heart attack a few months earlier at the age of 54. I was able to track down Cathy in Oklahoma and we've kept in contact since then. Her sister died of cancer a couple of years earlier and both of her parents have died. On top of that her husband died of cancer a year ago and she was in a serious car accident and almost didn't survive. Cathy has become extremely religious and that is how she has coped with this string of tragedies in such a short period of time.
I've always been an atheist and when my Father died I was able to accept it but the idea of losing a loved forever is a painful thing. It would be extremely difficult to loose a child or someone who is young. Although my atheism is deeply rooted I can really understand how someone could turn to religion when they are overwhelmed with grief and loss. I don't believe that Cathy will be reunited with loved ones when she dies but I certainly wouldn't criticize her beliefs.
Atheism and Christianity offer completely different answers to the question of dealing with the death of someone we love and our own death as well. I have accepted the reality that life ends at some point and is not eternal. I have always believed that death is the reason that religions formed in the first place. Although I'm critical of the religious influence in society I could never bring myself to disrespect my friend by criticizing how she's dealing with her loss. Any thoughts?
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Old 11-23-2007, 11:25 AM
 
Location: Indiana
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I agree that it does give a level of comfort to anticipate seeing our loved ones again, but there is still a grieving process for the Christian. I hate to see the situations where the Christian is encouraged to forego the natural grieving process because of their beliefs. It is unhealthy and can lead to many deep emotional problems in the future.
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Old 11-23-2007, 11:43 AM
 
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I think it can also be a problem when ANY death is considered God's will. Is it's God's will that someone gets drunk and plows into a crowd, killing himself and others? Where is personal responsibility in a case like that? What about the innocents that just happened to be standing on the sidewalk? Is it God's will that they too should die?

Is it God's will that someone die because they smoked, ate too much, took dope, committed suicide?

If it is a comfort for people to believe that it's the way of God, then, that's what they need to get them through the ordeal. I'll leave them to find strength and comfort in what they believe.

I'm with Montana on this. Things happen. We can't blame it all on God.

However, Death will come to all. Some ways are quicker than others. In my opinion, the worse way is the wasting away of old age. It can take years.
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Old 11-23-2007, 11:51 AM
 
Location: Pikeville, Ky.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MontanaGuy View Post
Atheism and Christianity offer completely different answers to the question of dealing with the death of someone we love and our own death as well. I have accepted the reality that life ends at some point and is not eternal. I have always believed that death is the reason that religions formed in the first place. Although I'm critical of the religious influence in society I could never bring myself to disrespect my friend by criticizing how she's dealing with her loss. Any thoughts?
My thought on this MG, is that you are a respectful and compassionate friend, and she blessed to know you.
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Old 11-23-2007, 11:57 AM
 
Location: Anywhere but here!
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I have yet had to experience the loss of someone very close to me (immediate family or very close friend). However, there was a time, about 10 years ago, when 2 people I worked with died tragically in a car accident. The two that passed were teenagers and so full of life and loved by all our co-workers. At the time, I really wasn't a "Christian". I couldn't understand the loss...it was just SAD! While it's still sad, I can look back now and see the impact their deaths had on a lot of people. Two of those people were "jerks" (never nice to anyone, always thought they were better than anyone else etc.), however, even the "jerks" were brought to tears and humbled by their deaths. They changed their attitudes and the way the saw themselves. I think they learned a valuable lesson that we're not invincible, nor do we know how much time we have here on earth. This wasn't a temporary change, either.
Even the mother of one of the boys would say that the death of her son was for a higher reason then we understand. She wasn't a BIG time Christian, but she did attend church and understood what most of the rest of us couldn't comprehend.

Everyone experiences loss differently. But, I think that we all share the same view of someone passing that has been suffering tremendously from cancer or??? Of course, we're not happy when they go, but we know they are no longer suffering and are indeed in a better place...even if that better place IS resting in the grave rather than being in Heaven.

When there is a tragic and sudden loss, I don't think there's any amount of comfort there...therefor, YES, God can provide us with a peace and comfort that may not otherwise be known.
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Old 11-23-2007, 12:13 PM
 
Location: Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kawgpz550 View Post
I have yet had to experience the loss of someone very close to me (immediate family or very close friend). However, there was a time, about 10 years ago, when 2 people I worked with died tragically in a car accident. The two that passed were teenagers and so full of life and loved by all our co-workers. At the time, I really wasn't a "Christian". I couldn't understand the loss...it was just SAD! While it's still sad, I can look back now and see the impact their deaths had on a lot of people. Two of those people were "jerks" (never nice to anyone, always thought they were better than anyone else etc.), however, even the "jerks" were brought to tears and humbled by their deaths. They changed their attitudes and the way the saw themselves. I think they learned a valuable lesson that we're not invincible, nor do we know how much time we have here on earth. This wasn't a temporary change, either.
Even the mother of one of the boys would say that the death of her son was for a higher reason then we understand. She wasn't a BIG time Christian, but she did attend church and understood what most of the rest of us couldn't comprehend.

Everyone experiences loss differently. But, I think that we all share the same view of someone passing that has been suffering tremendously from cancer or??? Of course, we're not happy when they go, but we know they are no longer suffering and are indeed in a better place...even if that better place IS resting in the grave rather than being in Heaven.

When there is a tragic and sudden loss, I don't think there's any amount of comfort there...therefor, YES, God can provide us with a peace and comfort that may not otherwise be known.
I have to agree with a lot of what Kawg said here. I think faith does help us get through a loss like this. I know that you obviously would feel differently about this, Montana, but it was a source of at least some comfort to me when our son died to know that around 40+ teen-agers went forward at his memorial service to commit their lives to the Lord. There was one girl in particular, that he had been friends with for several years who gave her life to the Lord following his death that I don't believe could have been reached any other way. This kind of thing doesn't take away the grief but it helps me believing that some higher purpose may have been achieved in his untimely (at least from our perspective) death. I will NEVER be happy about it, but it helps to believe that perhaps it wasn't totally in vain. Does that make any sense?

Another advantage I think faith gives is that you have a community of believers who are fervently praying for you in this type of situation. Again, atheists would find that worthless but I believe that the power of prayer (other's prayers, I mean)was what helped my husband and I not just literally fall apart.

Yeah, faith in everlasting life for the believer is really what it's all about. And yes, my fondest dream is to imagine holding my son again in a tight embrace. St. Paul said that if we believe for this life only, if there is no resurrection, then we are to be pitied. (kaykay paraphrase)

Last edited by kaykay; 11-23-2007 at 12:33 PM.. Reason: ...add a thought
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Old 11-23-2007, 12:19 PM
 
Location: Jacksonville,Florida
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As believers and non-believers goes,death reminds us that we are mere mortals and that our life here on Earth is short.

As Christians we are sad about the loss of a loved one ,but if that loved one is saved ,it is a comforting thought that they are in the hands of the Lord and that we will eventually see them again one day in Heaven.

I hurt a lot when my father passed away,but I know that I have a greater Father in Heaven and it will be a glorious day when He takes me there.
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Old 11-24-2007, 05:30 AM
 
Location: Oxford, England
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Faith or at least the possibility of a God will I am sure ease the grieving process and the idea of death as it gives comfort to the believer and enables them to think that they will see their loved one again and that life is eternal.

Which is why I believe we created god , to make us feel less lonely and less afraid of such scary issues . Our own mortality is something most of us will shrink from at some point, however being scared of death for oneself or others and wishing that there was a god does not make god a reality IMO. Wishful thinking maybe but nothing else. Trying to make sense of our vast and complex universe.

Human beings have always tried to overcome the idea that life is relatively short and can sometimes seem meaningless . Which is why we have through all forms of religion tried to make ourselves less insignificant and tried to keep the dark shadows from terrifying us. It is human nature to shy away from the idea that we are born, we live and we die. And thus god was created.
I am glad it does bring comfort and succour to people at very difficult and vulnerable times though ( even if IMO misguidedly), that at least is a very positive point about religion.

I hope I will not succumb to the temptation to make up a creator to scare away my fears when I am close to death but I cannot be sure.
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Old 11-24-2007, 06:55 AM
 
Location: The Netherlands
8,567 posts, read 14,805,673 times
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I have family who come from Surinam who originally come from Africa. To them a funeral is a happy and joyous festivity, much like a wedding.
At first I could not understand this; why were the people singing and dancing and being joyous at a funeral? It was the complete opposite of the Dutch or Indonesian funerals I normally attend. When I asked my Surinam aunt she told me that it is better to remember the good times you had with the departed than focus on pain and the loss. I never really understood this until my own father died.
I don't believe in an afterlife myself, but I guess it is better to focus on the good memories I have of my father and be thankful of that than only lose myself in grief, pain and loss.
It is my experience that only focusing on the good memories is not the same as denying the bad memories or refusing to believe that my father had passed away. I still feel his loss, but I do not lose myself in grief because I also remember the good times, which in the end definitely helped my grieving process.
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Old 11-24-2007, 08:04 AM
 
Location: among the chaos
2,136 posts, read 4,388,287 times
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~~Dealing with Death-An Atheist View vs Christian View~~

MG,
Your thread makes me think of what I 'think' I was trying to get at with my Love, Hope, Bond thread.

First off, it is very respectful of you to honor your friends beliefs. Of course, it is what I would expect from you. You seem like a very honorable man.

I have always believed myself to be a Christian. But there was a time that my faith was not as secure as it is now. I can remember watching other Christians during times of trial and feeling a little jeolous of their faith. They were secure in their knowledge that no matter what the world threw at them, their God would take care of them. They knew that death meant eternal life; a life free from worldly trials. This was something that I had not yet come to fully understand.

I like knowing that there is a God and the life in Heaven that I have been promised. My life on earth has certainly not been a bed of roses. But my God never said that it would be, he merely said that he would carry my through it. There have been days that the only thing that got me out of bed is that knowledge. My faith states that God will never give me more than I can handle and if today God has seen fit to let me wake and breath in life, then who am I to argue with Him.

I understand that we all have a purpose on this earth; whether we believe in God and an afterlife or not. I understand that we all can bring good to this world. I do not believe that the atheist has any less value in this life than the Christian. (That being said, I also believe that we are all children of God whether you believe in Him or not.) However, I pity the atheist in respect to the afterlife, the hope of something better.
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