So my last blog entry was on religion, and one of the things I mentioned about religion was that it offers hope for our lost loved ones. In some rather unfortunate timing (not that there is ever fortunate timing for a death in the family) my grandmother has passed. I knew she was not well when I wrote my last blog post, but it is rather difficult to prepare yourself fully for the death of a loved one. So, how, as an atheist, do I cope knowing (based on my beliefs) that my grandmother is gone?
I can take some comfort in the fact that she was in her 90s, and so had led a long life up until this point. But that doesn't change the fact that she is gone.
Grief is one emotion I have always struggled with, I know of no real rational way to deal with the loss, which is, to someone with my beliefs, rather final. I have no hope that they are happy now, or that I may see them again. They are just gone. So I am left with nothing to help me cope. All I have left is my own internal coping mechanisms, and unfortunately I fear they I not terribly healthy, the most effective method I have, and the one I dislike the least, is to descend into rationality and shut away the troublesome emotions, to deal with them later, when they have had time to subside, unfortunately they tend to subside very slowly when not dealt with. I have tried hard, for years, to avoid this coping strategy, as it tends to set me back in my relationships. I also have a tendency to compartmentalise my life, this is more a general coping strategy, than one for strong emotions, but I also find it hinders my personal growth, and my relationships, and I have, in the last few years started to break down the last of those compartments, but I fear this will not last in my current state of mind. Unfortunately this rather shows that I, as an atheist, don't really cope with grief. Writing this blog post is proving to be a little helpful, but only a little.
Essentially I am saying that I, as an atheist, do not really cope with grief. Perhaps other atheists handle it better, I certainly hope so.