Every one will eventually suffer the loss of someone they love in the most final of ways : Death!
As an Atheist, the death of someone is the end of their existence and therefore the end of our interaction forever. We all have our own ways of grieving and mourning, while believers may say it’s a comfort to know that one day you’ll be reunited in the after life, I think this diminishes the person’s memory.
I have lost my father, grand parents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends over my lifetime, and for me the best way to grieve has been to celebrate their lives. To remember them and the times we spent together – be it helping my father to repair cars, walking home from school with a dear friend or just the laughter we shared. It is a privilege to have time with any human being, you get to share the most precious moments with them – no matter what you’re doing together. The time you spend with them is as important as anything else in your life and theirs. Acknowledging the wonder of another human’s life is the greatest honour, but when you focus on their death and what they may become, you loose focus on their unique impact on the world and you.
I believe in the human soul, the spirit of a person and the greatness that exists in being alive. I don’t need it to be immortal and leading to an eternal existence, because that would lessen the experience of being alive for me. This also drives me to take more action in making my life meaningful, honouring those who would share their time with me and contributing in positive ways to others.
As an Atheist, how have you grieved? How do you honour the memory of someone? What “ritual” do you practice when someone you know and love dies?