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Memo to Religious People: Many Atheists Don't Want to Hear That Their Loved Ones "Are in Heaven" -- New Group for Non-Believers Helps Atheists Grieve

In a society that reflexively copes with death by using religion, grieving atheists are turning to each other.

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When The Trump Card Fails

It's commonly assumed that death is religion's trump card. No matter what atheism has to offer -- a better sex life, freedom from religion's often random taboos, the embrace of reality over wishful thinking, etc. -- many people automatically assume that, when it comes to death and grief, the comfort of believing in an afterlife will always win out. They assume that any argument for atheism being, you know, true, will ultimately crumble in the face of our desire for death to not be the end.

Many atheists reject this assumption passionately. We point out that many religious beliefs about death are far from comforting -- hell being the most obvious -- and that many former believers welcome atheism as a profound relief. We point out that religious beliefs about death are only comforting when you don't think about them very carefully. We point out that a philosophy that accepts reality is inherently more comforting than a philosophy based on wishful thinking... since it doesn't involve cognitive dissonance and the unease of self-deception. And we point out that there are many godless philosophies of death that offer comfort, meaning, and hope -- with complete acceptance of the permanence of death, and without any belief in any sort of afterlife.

But it's one thing to face the general idea of death with a godless philosophy. It's another thing entirely when someone you love dies, and you're dealing with the immediate and painful reality of grief. 

That's what groups like Grief Beyond Belief are about.

That's what the burgeoning atheist community is about.

So if you ever wonder why atheists need our own space -- our own meetup groups, our own student groups, our own online forums, our own organizations, our own support networks -- remember that.

And if you need it yourself -- please know that it's here.

You can join Grief Beyond Belief by going to the Facebook group and clicking the "like" button.

Read more of Greta Christina at her blog.

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