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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Grief Beyond Belief - Episode 39

Rebecca Hensler with Grief Beyond Belief discusses the process of recovery after the loss of a loved one, without relying on myths of god or gods.

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  1. A timely one for me. I just heard that my grandmother has died. I'll have a listen to the podcast later.

  2. Sorry to hear about your loss, Barry. If there is anything we can do to help, please let us know. We won't pray for you (obviously) so the only way we can help you is to actually help you.

  3. Thanks, Rich. The funeral could be difficult, as it will undoubtedly be held in a church and I'll find it hard to keep my mouth shut afterwards when I hear all the usual well-meaning Christian platitudes. For the sake of my family, though, I won't upset the apple cart.

  4. My father's memorial service was two days ago and I had to listen to a "This may be your last chance" sermon. I behaved. It was dad's service and he would have agreed with the preacher.
    I am still going through having to do like Julie Sweeney did in "Letting Go Of God", re-think everything I ever thought. My loved ones may not go to heaven, but the 99% of the world that I used to think would end up in hell aren't going to anymore.
    I like this quote from Robert G. Ingersoll. "And yet it were better far that all this should be false than that: all of the New Testament should be true.
    It is far better to have no heaven than to have heaven and hell; better to have no God than God and Devil. Better to rest in eternal sleep than to be an angel and know that the ones you love are suffering eternal pain; better to live a free and loving life, a life that ends forever at the grave, than to be an immortal slave."

  5. Thanks to all of you for addressing this topic. I have had recently process dealing with the subject of death as an atheist after 45 years of drinking the Christian kool-aid. While contemplating I wrote a poem that was cathartic to me.

  6. So... my nan's funeral. I'm glad I went, and it was good to see all the family together again even if it was for a sad occasion.

    The downside? The whole bloody thing was about 85% religion and 15% talking about my nan. Understandable, I guess, as my nan was a believer and so are many of the family, but apart from the eulogy when the priest spoke about my nan's life and a letter my cousin read out, I found the whole thing utterly uncomfortable and not at all comforting.

    I kept my peace, but all I could think was, "You're talking shit, mate. She's not in heaven, she's dead. She doesn't have eternal life and neither can we. Now stop fucking praying and quoting the Bible and actually talk about this wonderful woman whose loss we're all mourning here."

    I understand that all the talk about eternal life etc is comforting to those who believe it, so I suppose in that sense it was appropriate for the majority of attendees, but for those of us who know it's a fantasy it's empty, cold and utterly uncomforting.

    And if one more person tells me they're praying for me....!

  7. Barry, that sounds like a rather miserable 85%. Kudos to you for sticking it out and keeping your cool. I don't know if I'd have been able to do it. I really hate going to churchy stuff.

  8. It was a case of necessity, really. Most of the family are religious, so it was always going to be that way. The last thing I wanted to do was to dishonour my nan's memory by making a fuss at her funeral, so I just had to put up with it.

    We went back to her house afterwards, and I'm glad we did because that was the most comforting part for me, sharing memories of her with my cousins. Focusing on the person we'd lost, remembering her long and eventful life and how she touched our lives in so many ways, was the best way I can think of to begin the healing process and facilitate the grieving process that we all have to go through first.

  9. Good for you, Barry. That sounds like a nice way to remember her. I'm glad you guys got to do that. Somebody take note, I'd like a housewarming-style goodbye gathering when I go, too.

  10. I've already told my wife what I want to happen at my funeral/cremation: no religious content at all; the celebrant should share stories about my life and how I touched others' lives; the only "hymn" should be Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Welsh national anthem); and when the curtains close the music played over the PA should be either "Light My Fire" by The Doors or "Burn" by Deep Purple.

  11. Anon, nobody cares what an "external viewer" thinks.

    We are not trying to suppress our conscience, nor are we lost.

    Grief is an intense and horrible experience, and to have religious beliefs that we don't share pushed on us when we are grieving is a terrible thing.

    If you don't understand that, it is your problem, not ours.

  12. Just saw anon's post and killed it. Sorry it took so long. I've been a little under the weather...

  13. Wow,
    This is probably so late nobody will notice but I felt moved to post anyway. My Father was a Baptist preacher. I have been an Atheist since I was 16 Just didn't't't have a name for it until about six months ago I am now 47. I was thrown out of the house because of it. After I had my first child and graduated from college My dad and agreed to disagree on religion. So we became fairly good friends. I only went to church with them if it was really going to be inconvenient to come back to get me because we were going somewhere after wards. He always had this sense of a slight win. Being patient and loving my parents I figured I could totally waste an hour for them. I could also have making up my blasphemous hymns. Like I did in the old days. Wishing that lightning would strike the church so it would end earlier. As I always knew the lightning would never come.

    I would go to family funerals feeling totally embarrassed that my father turned it into a sales pitch for god. I truly believe it was a way to cover up his sadness that he didn't want to deal with. He almost never talked about the persons life. My Grandmother told me privately that she wished that she didn't agree to have my Father to preach at her funeral. She thought the whole sales pitch was completely WRONG

    One day about six years ago my sister was murdered. She was sort of a believer but not really. She was a LOVER of life. She was so active and full of life. She died protecting her children because of her no one else was hurt. She was a true hero. We all headed immediately to Georgia to help out. I had a six hour flight. On that Six hour flight I was determined to not let my father turn this event into just a jesus sales pitch. It was the hardest six hours of my life to think of all the good things in her life after such a tragedy. I went through all of the little things in my mind. How much she enjoyed all the little things. I knew many of the people at the funeral and brought up funny stories of her life. I embarrassed some ex boyfriends and a couple of ex husbands. I had 300 people laughing and remembering my sister as she should be remembered. Not just as an advertisement for a egotistical imaginary being. That is a disgrace to the person. My sister was a real person and a HERO. What did god ever do for her kids. She saved them that day where HE COULD NOT!

    Almost no one remembers what my father said that day but everyone remembers my stories and my sisters life. That is as it should be. Now you have a small part of my sisters memory.

    Thanks for allowing this post.


  14. Guy, it's wonderful that you were able to honour your sister's memory like that.

    1. Still doing it. I think she would appreciate the post. Even with the typos.

      Thanks Barry.