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Episode 58 – Grief Without God

This week we are joined by our friend Eric Knight, who recently lost his father.  Tim lost his father over twenty years ago.  Both of them talk about how they dealt/continue to deal with their loss.  We talk a lot about what we, as atheists, do and don’t want to hear when we lose someone we care about.  We also mention Grief Beyond Belief, a Facebook group that helps atheists and agnostics work through loss.  Eric also has the opportunity to answer our five questions.

Show notes below the fold:

Here’s a link to the Facebook group we mentioned: Grief Beyond Belief

11 Responses to Episode 58 – Grief Without God

  1. James Thomas says:

    Thanks for doing such a possibly difficult topic. It covered a lot of things that I went through after the death of each of my parents and my grandmother. So again thanks.

  2. One of the things I don’t understand is people who call or send a note on the anniversary of someone’s death. The last thing I want is a reminder that mom, dad, or uncle Tom died on a certain day…

    • James Thomas says:

      I agree I keep getting cards from LifeSource years later and I just do not need to be reminded, I can remind myself enough out of the blue without their help.

    • Ugh, yes. I think a note right after is appropriate and anything beyond that is morbid and unprofessional.

  3. Albatross says:

    Hey! I recognize that intro phrase!

    Yeah, I’m THIS far behind.

    What I hate about death as an atheist is that the person is just dead, and we never get to see them again. Theists who believe in an afterlife maybe get to pretend that they’ll see their loved ones again – but I can’t say how this is better or worse since I’m not one of them.

    • Albatross says:

      In 2009 my birthmother, Karen, had just turned 65 and was eligible for Medicaid after years with no health insurance. She had just moved out of a dreadful, mold-filled apartment into a much nicer “tiny house” apartment.

      She went into the hospital on a Friday night with shortness of breath. They kept her three nights. On Sunday night they told her they were going to release her the next morning. At midnight a nurse helped her use the bathroom: at 1 a.m. the nurse found Karen dead in bed, having pulled the oxygen tubes from her nose.

      Did the nurse fail to turn on her oxygen after the restroom? Why was she so close to death if they were going to release her the next morning? Did the mold in her former apartment have something to do with it? And why the heck didn’t she tell anyone that she was in the hospital? I’ll never know – as her adopted-away child, I had no standing to find out, and nobody would tell me anything. But the funeral home did let me pay for the cremation.

      As an atheist the finality of the situation was hard. It was stark. I got the frantic 5:30 am phone call from my maternal-half-sister, and my sleepy, just-waking-up brain said “Now Karen is gone, you’ll never see her again.” And that’s the harsh truth, but it’s better, I think, than pretending she’s floating on a cloud like Jeffrey’s Family-circus grandpa.

      • Albatross says:

        After my adoptive father died I didn’t mourn. For a long time I felt bad about that because it seemed like when one’s father dies one ought to mourn. My therapist finally explained it – my father and I had had multiple serious fallings-out over the years. Basically, my therapist explained, I had mourned my father back then, when our relationship had failed. When he died it was just the end of an epilogue.

        • Albatross says:

          “He’s first-round funny!”

          LOLed.

        • I won’t be sad when my biological father dies. People say that’s cold of me, but it’s just the truth. I don’t love him, I don’t hate him, I just nothing him. His existence is binary to me, and when it’s a zero instead of a one, that will just be that. I’ll feel sad for his real daughters, the ones he loves and for whom he has spent actual time being a dad. But I also feel sad for other people when their fathers die. It’s a tangential sad. What your therapist said makes sense to me, if not for me specifically. I don’t remember him ever being a dad to me. I remember him through and after the divorce, and he was a bad, cruel father. Makes no sense to mourn such a man.

    • >Hey! I recognize that intro phrase!

      Hee hee hee! :)