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← Grief Without God

andmarsmi's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by andmarsmi

Before I say what I have to say, allow me to offer my condolences for your loss. It must be terrible to lose someone you love so much.

However, your posting left a deep impression on me, and I'd like to make a few observations.

You claim to be an atheist, but the way you write seems to imply more of a refusal to believe, based on the way you feel you've been treated, rather than a non-belief based on any objective argument. It seems to me that your reasons for not believing in God (why are we all using capital G's for an entity we don't believe in?) are the polar opposite of those you criticise for believing. While they can't understand why we can't accept that a God created the universe and gives meaning to our lives, you can't accept that a God would take the meaning out of yours. These are two sides of the same argument, based on different points of view. Also, it's not really an argument, because both focus on God's intentions. And He doesn't exist, right? Just because you can't accept that a God would take away your husband and leave your children without a father doesn't mean there is no God. It's a rather egocentric argument, as if, for some reason, because Eric was a "good man" and you're a "good woman" and your kids are "good kids", you believe that you should have been spared a tragedy. As Steven Weinberg says, the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.

Also, Id like to stand up for our deluded religious brethren. Every person who tried to console you was doing the best they could, the best they knew how. Fine, you didn't like the way they did it, and some of them sound pretty ignorant, but their ignorance neither proves nor disproves the existence of any God. What you, I, or they "think" or "believe" is totally irrelevant. At least they did something. They tried to help a woman in distress. How would you have felt in an atheist had tried to console you in the following manner?

"I'm sorry but your husbands dead. I'd like to say he's in a better place, but he's not anywhere. He's just ceased to exist. Gone. Erased. But don't grieve, the memes he strived to perfect fly on. So he didn't die in vain.

Don't ask yourself "why?" Eric was not special. Except to you, and those few others who loved him. He was one out of six billion. Insignificant. Like any of us. So don't waste time grieving, because you'll be dead soon too. And your kids not long after that. Maybe even before. Who knows? As some famous scientist said (it may even have been Richard Dawkins, I can't remember), **** happens, so, instead of asking "Why me?" when it does, we should be asking "Why not me?" when it doesn't.

Death is only natural after all, so what's all the fuss about? Grief is just an emotion. A neurological state. It's not "real". So get over it and get on with your life. And, let's not kid ourselves, what on earth did you expect anyway? Eric was a test pilot. He was an intelligent man who volunteered to do one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Did you think he was immortal? Did you think that, because he was doing a "good thing", probability didn't apply to him? That some kind of "God" or "benevolent force" had his back? Eric was an atheist. He knew the risks and accepted them. So, while you are busy telling the world what a wonderful human being he was, which may well be true, another truth is that he put his reasons for doing his job above the distress he knew his demise would cause his wife and children. So was he selfless, selfish or just stupid? So, don't grieve. He knew what he was doing, he knew the consequences of an accident and he went ahead and did it anyway. If you loved him, you'd accept that. Eric died doing what he loved doing. Be happy. Not everyone gets that chance.

Move on. The entity you knew as "Eric" was a mere accident. A product of chance, time and natural selection. He was, as you and I are, nothing more than a "complicated" vehicle for his "stupid" genes. However, while Eric was mortal, his genes are not. Thankfully, they live on. So, in a way, the most important part of "Eric" hasn't really gone anywhere. He's still with you, inside your two beautiful children. So stop thinking about "Eric", who no longer exists, and think about them, who do. Get on with what's left of your life. Stop grieving. Be happy. Be strong. For their sake.

They've lost their father, don't let them lose their mother to her pointless grief. Don't make them spend the formative years of their lives watching an unhappy mother. Don't criticise others for having found meaning to their existence. Find your own. Be an example to your kids and show them how to find a meaning that makes life worthwhile. Perhaps that is the greatest legacy Eric leaves behind. He was, after all, a man who found meaning without using God. He found something to do that was important to him. And he was prepared to die doing it. So follow his example. Teach your children how to follow his example. But perhaps doing something safer, on the ground.

Seven years grieving is not a good example. Since there is no "God", no "karma", no celestial bank account of good deeds to heal you, all the charity work in the world is meaningless. Unless, of couse, you are doing it for the same reasons Eric flew planes, because it's the most important thing in the world. From the way you talk, it doesn't sound like it is. By fighting grief, all you do is keep it alive. Move on. Leave it behind. Try.

And why write a book about the past? About something that's gone? Why perpetuate the grief? Thinking about the past every day for seven years hasn't helped cure you so be intelligent. Do something different. Why not write a book about the future? About how Eric's legacy, his genes and his memes live on? About how his example can help put meaning in life. Yours seems to have died with Eric. Look forwards, not backwards.

So, would you prefer that, or a simple: "He's in a better place now."? Maybe he is. No one can prove anything one way or the other. Yet.

We're all alive for the blink of an eye. Let's try and be thankful and make the most of his pointless gift that's landed on our laps. Let's not waste it. Let's find our own meanings. Like I said, I'm sorry for your loss. But get over it and stop spreading your depressive memes like a disease. Do something positive. Like Eric did. You spent 20 years at his side. Did you learn nothing?

Mon, 29 Jan 2007 04:25:00 UTC | #17619