Tag Archives: death

The Horror of Eternity

One of my Facebook friends just asked her ‘followers’ if the idea of the afterlife ever brought comfort to us. It was interesting to see some of the responses:

“The stress of wondering where I would go in the afterlife did not bring me any comfort. I don’t remember when I first learned about Hell, but when I was a child, I was so afraid of it that I repeated the thought “I love God” over and over and over again in my mind.”

“I never, even as a Christian, completely accepted the concept of Heaven and Hell because my dad was an atheist and I knew it. I tried my best to rationalize, though. I just couldn’t understand the point of us being created only to be tortured. So no, it never brought me comfort.”

“Absolutely not. I remember thinking who would want to live FOREVER? And I was maybe 7 or 8 years old.”

“I was always terrified of the afterlife, particularly heaven. At a very young age, I was terrified of the thought of NEVER dying. I did not want to live forever, and worse with god. I was terrified about constantly being criticized by him. I did not truly understand what acts were sins and did not want to upset god.”

Until a few years ago, the idea of the afterlife was nothing BUT comfort to me. I was raised in a liberal Christian family, and was taught that everyone was saved by grace at birth, meaning that nobody went to hell. The idea of people suffering forever wasn’t even an issue for me. Everyone would go to heaven, where they could do whatever they wanted, be whoever or whatever they wanted, etc. It would just be a magical world where anything was possible. Definitely not the Biblical image of heaven, with the constant singing of praises to God.
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Dealing with Loss as a Nonbeliever

I’ve never really been good at dealing with loss. It’s bad enough when it’s my own loss, but I never know how to handle helping people I know through their own loss. Basically every coping mechanism I had for dealing with death is based on my theistic upbringing.

Now, as a nonbeliever, I’m left without those options. I could say “they’re in a better place,” but it would be an empty sentiment since I don’t really believe that. I could say “their pain is over now,” but again, if they don’t exist anymore, I don’t think that’s really much consolation.

This all comes up now because a friend of mine recently lost her husband of many, many years, who I’d never actually met. When I lose someone myself, I know that I can take solace in the memories I have of them. I can remember the time we spent together, the laughter and tears we shared, the good times and the bad. But when it’s someone I only have a vicarious relationship with, I can’t really relate to anything but the raw emotion of loss, and I don’t handle that very well. I react awkwardly and tend to feel uncomfortable.

How do we deal with loss, ours and that of others?