facing the mortality of my parents

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Rebasack's picture
facing the mortality of my parents

I am the only athiest in my family. My dad refuses to believe i am an athiest because for him to have an athiest child is to have failed as a father. I was born with severe rapid cycling bi-polar disorder. creating a center of logic in my mind that watches atd helps control my emotions is how i survive and deal with it.
i realised in my early teens that not only had i never believed in a god, part of it was realising that the rest of my family did, and it still makes no sense to me.
last night my dad was rushed to the hospital, he was having a heart attack.
while i have faced my own mortality i am now suddenly faced with the mortality of my father who has held our family together.
i am having such a hard time proccessing this and i dont know any other athiests i can talk to about it.
i honestly dont know what to say or do.
the good news is my dad is ok and coming home tomorrow.
that knowledge is having no effect on the way i am feeling.
i have lost family members before, but not close family.
how do people deal with this when they dont have a fairy tale that makes then feel better?

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Tin-Man's picture
Hey there, Rebasack. Welcome

Hey there, Rebasack. Welcome to the AR. Glad you chose to come here for some advice. Many good folks around this joint who have a wide range of knowledge and life experiences. You are in a good place.

Losing a loved one is never an easy thing. The simple truth, though, is that death is a natural part of life. Not trying to sound "harsh", but nobody gets out of this game alive. Yes, the death of somebody dear and close to you can be very sad and painful. That, too, is only natural. For if their death has no measurable effect on you, then that individual apparently did not mean that much to you in the first place. Therefore, it is perfectly okay to be upset by and mourn the death of somebody you love and care about. It is a way of healing so that we may move on and make the most of the time we have left for our own lives. And therein lies the key....

Please allow me to share with you my personal views on death in regards to those close to me. Basically, I try to look at it from my own point of view and ask myself, "If I were to die, what would I want for those I left behind?" My answer to that is I would want those who were close to me to carry on with their lives in a way that will make them happy and successful. Sure, a few of them may be sad for a little while after I pass away (maybe... *chuckle*...). However, in my opinion, the best way they could ever honor me would be to live the rest of their lives as happy as they can possibly be. Therefore, with that in mind, in order to honor the loved ones I have lost over the years, I do my best to live my life in such a way that makes me happy and also helps others as much as possible along the way. Those we have lost are gone. Never to return. They had their time on this Earth and did with it whatever they chose to do. For those of us still living, we never know how much time we have left ourselves. And that is why I believe we should do whatever is necessary to make our lives as happy and as full as possible while we are still alive and kicking.

In regards to your Dad (or your Mom or any other close family member or friend), the most important thing you can do is to make sure he does not pass away without you doing whatever you need to do to make sure you have no regrets when he is gone. Whatever that may be is totally up for you to determine. Just don't make the mistake of thinking, "Well, I'll just wait and tell him tomorrow," or, "I'll just wait for tomorrow to do that." Because you and I both know tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us. Bottom line, this is the only shot we have. Make the most of it, and do not waste an opportunity to tell those you care about how you truly feel about them. Hope this helps.

Cognostic's picture
@Tin: I read yours after

@Tin: I read yours after writing mine. Fascinating how two people can approach a topic in the exact same way with very different perspectives.

Cognostic's picture
I have a fairy tale that

I have a fairy tale that keeps me together. I am standing on deaths door and will retire soon. In the not too distant future I will be your father. My personal fairy tale goes something like this. I am a process and not a thing. I am part of the universe from which I came. I will return to where I came from. (That does not mean consciously or with any kind of awareness.) I am simply a part of the process that everything is. I am a piece of the universe from which I came and to where I will return. I was so lucky to be here for a time, to have this thing called life, to experience, to live, to laugh and even cry. It's all part of the journey of life. Everything living passes on this way. The planets themselves will pass on this way. At some point in the distant future, even the milky way will cease to exist and beyond that, the universe itself may find an end.

To me, this is a very peaceful thought. When I lay back and look at the stars at night or the sky as it passes, I just feel a part of it all. I am no different than a cloud that is here an then gone, a star that flickers out or a super nova exploding to dust.

The Buddhists have an idea that life is like a candle flame. The flame burns brightly until it goes out. Life is like this flame. It simply burns until it burns away. It is the natural state of all things to do this. Look around and you see it everywhere.

Another Buddhist story I really like. A monk stepped too close to the edge of a cliff and fell over the edge. As he fell he managed to reach out and grab the root of a small plant. There he was suspended over the edge of the cliff with certain death waiting for him at the bottom of the great fall, and no way at all to climb back to the top for the earth was crumbling away.

As he looked at his grip on the small plant he was holding, he noticed the root slowly slipping from the ground. He had only moments to live when a flash of red caught his eye. There, next to the root, was a red, ripe, luscious looking strawberry. He reached out his hand, plucked the berry from the bush, and plopped it into his mouth.

The man is on the journey between life and death. He began life at the top of the cliff and is now hanging onto life. He can not return to the top, and it is clear that death awaits him below. Should he worry about his predicament? Should he rant and rave? Should he pray to a god? In the Buddhist tale, he opts to simply be in the moment, reach out and taste the life that he has. He enjoy's the strawberry.

You are being given a very special moment. You are realizing the mortality of your father and even your own mortality. You have the opportunity to reach out to life in this situation. You know death is around the corner. You know this is the natural state of things throughout the universe, you and your father included. You have a chance to make this an amazing part of your life and of your father's life. Will you reach out and grab the strawberry? Will you make your life amazing? What you do from this point on will be etched in your memory for as long as you live. There is no escaping that.

Carpe Diem

That's my two cents. Death is as natural as life. It is all a part of the big picture. You can see the big picture if you look for it. In the mean time.... take care of things that need to be taken care of. You will love yourself for it later. I am happy to hear your father is doing better. Why not begin by letting him know how much you missed him and how much you worried. NO ONE NEEDS A MAGICAL SKY DADDY FOR THAT.

Mikhael's picture


Caitlyn Doughty is a death kbowledge advicate and mortician, also a non believer in any afterlife. She has many videos about facing death, grieving and loss. You might find her channel beneficial

Cognostic's picture
@Mikhael: I'm actually

@Mikhael: I'm actually going to watch this.

RE: "Hang out with dead bodies." Excellent advice! Pets, cats and dogs, are wonderful tools for teaching us about death and dying. I dislike the cemetery idea. It is too far removed from the death process. The are not up close or personal enough. Instead I recommend volunteering at a nursing home once or twice a week. It will not be long before you experience the death process. I have worked in nursing homes and in the ER. I also worked as an EMT on an ambulance. This certainly shades my perspective on death and dying. There is nothing as natural as death, everyone does it. I have seen people deal with it effectively and people literally lose it and end up in lock down facilities. Everything has to do with your personal perspective of death and dying.

Not much else in this video. A bunch of graves? To that I have no response.

I highly recommend reading about the "STAGES OF DEATH AND DYING" (Kuba Ross) DABDA - Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. It is said that everyone goes through at least some of these stages. They are not set in concrete and you can go back and forth as you are dealing with a death; however, being aware of what is happening and that it is completely natural is a big move in the direction of lessening the emotional pain, in my opinion.

David Killens's picture
This is a sad tale Rebasack,

This is a sad tale Rebasack, but I say this with compassion and understanding "everyone goes through this process". Unless you are some psychotic nutcase, you will have to suffer the loss of loved ones.

Do not wait until tomorrow to display your love and affection, do it every day, and every time you are with your parents. Show them how much you love them, and show them every time. Never miss the opportunity to display that love.

Edit: correct a misspelled word

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