Saturday, November 14, 2009

My acceptance of no life after death

Bonogold wrote:

Well, as my belief in TSCC disintegrated, so did my belief in God. Now there's nothing for me to fall back on when I need comfort from the terrible things I see in the world. I've suddenly become overly emotional, even crying at stupid little things - almost like some kind of separation anxiety. Then a colleague/friend died unexpectedly this week, and I don't know how to cope with all of this. Life seems cruel and pointless. It's one thing to never have believed in God, but it's quite another thing to have one view of existence/the universe for your whole life and turn it upside down all at once. Has anyone else experienced this? Any advice? My life isn't in shambles. I'm actually much happier now in all areas except this one. I don't spend most of my time thinking about these things. It's just that when they do come up, I can't find the comfort I used to find - and I really, really miss that. It's the only reason I ever wish I could believe again.

I think I can relate. I felt the way you did when I first lost belief in the church and god over 3 years ago. Frankly, I've just come to accept it (kind of like accepting the death of a loved one). Time dulls the pain of the injustice of having no day of reckoning. I believe the scales of justice are never balanced and that is just the way it is. I don't believe in karma or an afterlife.

Olivia Newton-John was a guest judge on American Idol a few years ago and she wore a shirt that had a slogan which has since become a favorite of mine. The shirt said, "It is what it is". I try to simply accept what is most likely reality. In a lot of ways I have given up the concept of justice and instead focus on consequences that foster pro-social changes in behavior. I reject the notion that "the scales" can really be balanced anyway regardless of what any judge - human or divine - could do to the offender. The important thing is to try to reduce the likelihood of the offending behavior happening again through consequences, therapy, social skills training, etc. Natural death serves a purpose in that it ultimately prevents a person from ever doing harm again even if the person never has to account for their wrongdoing.

Basically, I am ok with things being what they are. Most of us during childhood came to accept that life isn't fair. Accepting that there in all likelihood is no final day of reckoning is just one step beyond that. I think we can learn to accept that, too.


Allan said...

It seems to me that belief in an afterlife is an attempt to escape from the grieving process by essentially saying that the person isn't really dead. So someone who loses that belief is confronted with having to grieve for an extreme loss for perhaps the first time in their life.

Personally, I think that it is sad to go through life with rose colored glasses without having to deal with that loss and learn to let go and live in the moment.

Jeff Moss said...

Allan, I'm the only person in my family who isn't a mormon (second child, first of 3 sons). When my youngest brother died in a car wreck when he was 16, I remember standing outside the trauma ward at the hospital, where the helicopter delivered my brother after the accident, when the doctor told the whole family that he was brain dead and the chance of survivability was negligible, they all burst into sobbing, I was the only one who still had it together, I asked the doctor a few questions. The entire time I felt no need to sob. I couldn't tolerate the rest of my families sobbing, so I went home and built a desk that I'd bought weeks before. That was apparently my coping mechanism, work. My wife isn't a mormon either and she was pretty devastated by it, but she wasn't sobbing uncontrollably like they were, as I recall.

Anyways I think my experience is enough to discount your theory. I believe that Mormons are conditioned to cry, it's a very respectable attribute. For some reason I was able to cope much better. I'm a bit of an introvert but nothing too serious, I'd call it "brooding" or contemplative, more accurately.

They had all been praying just before they got word that he was dead, I think this event maybe was too great for any of these so called coping mechanism to deal with, some Mormons may have a more powerful coping skill because of their beliefs about the afterlife, but most I think would feel tortured and want answers from God, was he punishing them for something? I accepted it immediately for what it was, I had lost a brother, will never be able to speak to him again, but I had no regrets going in to this, we had spent time together recently fixing his computer.

Another interesting aspect to this story is that I had abandoned the faith many years prior to this, but this was my last chance I have for good to exist, I can vividly recall. I asked God, in my head on the ride home, if Danny was "there" and I got no answer, just like every other time in my life that I sought a spiritual experience. Nothin.