★Atheism: As an atheist how do you feel about your own impending death?

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Q. As an atheist how do you feel about your own impending death, knowing that there is nothing more? Are you afraid of death? Do you accept it? Have you prepared for it? Do you care what your funeral would be like? How are your feelings about death different from those of religious people?

A. A time of nothing and nothing we’ll see, for miles and miles of open sea. We trekked along the mountain range, to find the path that time astray.

What is death then.
Its the non-existence of a person or an animal or a thing. But deeper than that, its the non-existence of our relationship with it. We’re skin and bones, but we fall in love with the mind, the body and the soul. We connect with people, sometimes even regardless of what they look like. Like a child that loves her grandparents. Wrinkled skin and weak bones don’t weaken her love for Grandma and Grandpa.
And so death. Death is the lack of the relationship with that person, and that feeling of immense sadness that accompanies it. And with death, we truly feel sorrow for all the things that we would miss doing with them, and all the things that we missed doing with them.
There’s also a great sense of concern that originates as well, in which you ask yourself whether the deceased will be safe and secure in the after-life. Who’s gonna be there to look after them, or to watch out for them? And are they going to be happy in the afterlife?
Looking at it from another perspective, what if we look at the lack of a relationship in another context? The lack of existence of the relationship can also be seen in other forms of heart-break that happen with living people as well. Friendships, love interests, divorce, colleagues moving on – and so on and so forth. We still feel a lack of relationship, but our intensity is different in each case. We may feel a strong physical feeling of uneasiness when our lover betrays us or decides to move on, and may not even flinch when our distant neighbour decides to shift to another city.
These two forms of human emotions give me great hope in mankind. We are still concerned about the safety and happiness of our beloved even after death.
Like a mother that packs a tiffin for school each morning, and makes sure that her child has enough biscuits for the bus ride home. And in death, when the mother can’t pack that last tiffin for her child, there is an immense feeling of guilt. A guilt that comes up in not being able to provide for her son in death. “There’s something that I could have done to prevent it.” she might say. Or “How could you take my child away God. Who is going to take care of him. You?” She was the guardian of the child, and in death she couldn’t perform her role in the child’s life. A role that originated out of love. For a child gives birth to a mother and in that he plays a role in her life just as much as she does in his.
And so, death as a lack of a relationship – is what’s it all about. A lack of having that person in your life – and playing that crucial role of being a loving father, or a wise grandmother, or a protective brother, or even a friendly stranger. Roles that the people we love – play in our lives. You say, “Oh i’ll miss her smile. She used to bring a sense of playful joy in me that no other could.” or you say, “Oh him. The whole country will miss him. In my own life, his actions inspired me to a great degree”
And hence, just the basic understanding that the person didn’t need to fill a role in your life – liberates you.
Now you can truly enjoy the role that the person plays in your life, meanwhile knowing deep down that they don’t have to if they don’t want to.  Roles evolve and become deeper in meaning. Children grow up to become teenagers and need their parents to become more like friends. This opens up a more deeper form of a relationship with that person, in which, when they are gone – it brings immense sadness with it, but also it brings a sense of peace. Peace because when we see them in death, we accept the fact that they’ll always have a special place in our hearts. For the body will eventually disintegrate, but even in death, we will always have the memories that we shared. The good and the bad become meaningless and you truly view them as a whole and realize that you were madly in love with them this whole time.  And that nothing can shake that love away from you; not even the cycle of life and death.

photo credit: anjan58 via photopin cc

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