There are very, very few times that I wish I was religious. As far as I’m concerned, religion has done far more harm to society and killed far more people than anything else. I really don’t get how religious people believe all the fairy tales, but I do understand why many of them do. It’s a comfort to them—like a security blanket. They’re scared of unknowns, and religion claims to give them all the answers. The fact that many of these so-called “answers” have been thoroughly debunked makes no difference to most of them, but I digress. This is not supposed to be a religion-blasting post. That’s for another time.
See, the only time when I wish I could take comfort in the make-believe is when death hits close to home. I haven’t lost anyone in my family in a long while—the last person was my great-grandmother several years ago—but the brother of my friend’s fiancé was killed in a car accident on Saturday, and even though I never knew him personally, it’s still a sobering event because I know how much my friend is grieving. It scares me sometimes, how quickly life can end. I used to drive fairly recklessly—though I never got into any accidents—but I am now a very “defensive driver.” I’d rather get home ten minutes later than get hurt or killed because I was trying to cut someone off or beat a truck with my speed. I always pause an extra moment at stop signs to make sure no one coming the other way is going to run it, and I’m just very careful overall, especially in bad weather. Speed and carelessness are stupid things to die for.
As an atheist, I obviously don’t believe in the religious concept of an afterlife. When you die, your body rots six-feet under, end of story. There’s no magical place where you see all the loved ones you lost and wait for the ones who lost you. The last time you saw someone before you or they died is the last time you’ll ever see them.
Many religious people see this outlook as morbidly depressing, and I suppose in some ways it is, but it also makes me cherish the time I have with the people I care for. I won’t take anything for granted, and I won’t fight just to fight, because you never know what can happen, and I never want to wonder if someone died angry with me for something stupid that could have been avoided, or have regrets that I brushed them off in favor of something/someone less important.
Religious or not, dealing with death is never easy. Sure, religious people can pray and say that someone is “in a better place and it’s selfish to want them back,” but they grieve just like the rest of us. Anger, denial, depression, acceptance. We all feel the same, suffer the same, and shed the same tears. The only difference is that some of us are strong enough to do it on our own, and some need the promise from their god that they’ll see each other again.