So I had my first real after deconversion death in my family. My Wife's maternal grandmother passed away over the weekend and we had the viewing and funeral this week. It was my first time viewing death from a non Christian perspective. I must admit, I didn't like it. Losing people you know and love always sucks, regardless of whether or not you believe in god. Ill call her grandma from here on to make it easier to write.
Grandma was a minister's wife and that was her entire life. She relished that opportunity. She apparently made a good impact on a lot of people because around 400 showed up to the visitation. As I watched the people come and visit and discuss her life, the prevailing theme was that she was in a better place. She had not been able to recover from a major surgery just two weeks prior and so, in some ways, she suffered until her death, only being temporarily shielded from the pain by a regular drip of painkillers. The toll it took on my wife's family was evident. They were relieved and wounded all at the same time. They kept reminding themselves that she is with Jesus and that they will be reunited one day. It brought them comfort.
I saw the pain and anguish of a man who just lost his wife of nearly 53 years. His companion. His friend. His Love. I never heard him really say that she was in a better place. I know that he believes it. But I saw genuine love and emotion from him. I saw true heartache. True sorrow. No god was needed there. No god was there. Just him. broken. wounded. alone.
I try to understand the human plight of facing death and dealing with death, but its knowledge eludes me. Left in death's wake, one can only feel a overwhelming chaos of emotions. Anger, Fear, Love, Happiness, Sadness, Anguish. I completely understand the need for god in this situation. I understand the comfort that comes from believing that we will one day see our loved one again in a paradise. I get it. And now that I am on the other side, no longer believing that a god exists, I find that I long for it. I want its comfort. I want it to be true.
I found myself wanting to be a comfort to my wife. I know from my own personal experience that words do nothing to help with someone who is grieving. But yet, I find that words are the one thing that I am most wanting to use to bring comfort. But I know a hug is the best thing. I know that my presence will do more than any word I will ever speak. But my brain wanted to engage my mouth. This is when I realized that saying that grandma is in a better place and she is with Jesus fills this void I want to fill with things that bring comfort to someone I care very much about. Its mindless babble, but babble nonetheless. I didn't say them, but I came to a better understanding as to why people say things like this.
My father died unexpectedly when I was 21. His death shattered my life. Totally changed me as a person. As I look back 20 years to where I was as a man and who I am now, I can see that his death was a catalyst in me becoming who I am. Death changes us. It reveals who we are. Emotions are good. Yet I find myself wanting to suppress them. Not because I think that they make me weak. But because I just don't want to be vulnerable. I want to be normal. But death doesn't do normal. It does real. It does life.
I was charged to watch my daughter during the whole funeral and she was a nice distraction. She wanted to play and run around and be herself. Being 18 months old, she was, of course, oblivious to what was happening around her. It was a beautiful summer day at the graveyard. She wanted to run around and point at the flowers. Behind us, family wept and hurt over the loss of grandma. Right then, sorrow and joy were playing together on the field of life. Through my family. I found myself laughing at my daughter's antics, and now looking back, I think I did it to relieve the emotional pressure I had placed upon myself by trying not to reveal my emotions. It felt weird and yet satisfying to laugh at a funeral.
So, now I am back to the regular life I have. Back at work. Looking back at the events of the past few days. Decided to write out some thoughts and share them with the few people that know that I am no longer a believer in god.