death and all his friends

11 Mar

loralee, catherine, julie, lindsay & devra all posted today about how they, as an inactive mormon, a catholic, an athiest, a protestant & a jew, talk to children about death. as an agnostic, i know i don’t have all the answers, but i find a comfort in that.

i don’t mind not feeling the pressure loralee felt because she and her husband weren’t bound in the temple, and therefore, weren’t bound to their beautiful son who passed away. i don’t feel guilty about any multitude of sins that i may have committed and feel the need to confess for fear i’ll end up in purgatory. i don’t mind not having the answers my kids may be searching for when they ask me what heaven is or why my cousin died or if the twins will die at the same time since they were born at the same time. (oh, my god, i know, right?!?)

when a family dog died 6 years ago, the 2 year old twins asked me what happened. i had the best answer ever in the history of the world and i’ve now forgotten it. when i remember it someday, i’ll write it down, but since then, i feel like i’ve been winging it. now, the girls are starting to come up with their own interpretations of what happens when you die and those beliefs are fluid, as i think they should be. if we continue to learn from life and from ourselves, our ideas will change. i wanted to quote plato, or socrates (think ‘so – crates’ a la bill & ted,) but i can’t find exactly what i’m looking for. i did stumble upon a few other meaningful quips, however, that speak to me in terms of my lack of religion and why i don’t have any particular faith.

‘no man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience.’

— john locke, philosopher

this particular quote is probably the one that explains most about why i’m an agnostic. i don’t know god because i have yet to meet him (or her) and i don’t mean that i expect the holy father to walk up to me, introduce himself and shake my hand, but my experience doesn’t include god, so i don’t have any religion to adhere to.

‘the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.’

— albert einstein, mathematician

the quote i was looking for is exactly like this, but said by an old philosopher dude in different terms. it’s so true, though. when you learn something new, you realize how much more there is to know out there that you haven’t learned yet. some you may care about (like how to use the manual settings on my camera, appropriately) and some you don’t (how to dismantle an atomic bomb.)

‘one thing only i know, and that is that i know nothing.’

— socrates, philosopher

i’m not sure if this is the quote. i could have sworn i was looking for plato, but socrates and einstein have it right. i truly know nothing and don’t pretend to know even half of anything. i know what i know now and don’t fret much about the stuff i don’t know yet.

another timely post today was a momversation topic from daphne and heather. daphne has a friend whose son just of cancer and she wanted to ask heather what kinds of things are acceptable to say to parents who lose a child. heather mentions not ever, EVER saying anything about god and how much he needed or wanted that child. i just can’t imagine someone saying something like this to a parent after their child has died. and i can’t imagine a god who would let a child die.

this is probably my biggest hang up with religion and the way people use it. i truly don’t see how a merciful god would let a child die because he needed them more or wanted them more. needed them for what, i don’t know. what does god want with a child? it’s just unfathomable to me that god would want or need someone’s baby. as heather said, too, “i don’t care if it is the all powerful creator of the universe, you don’t tell any mama that anyone wants her baby more than she does.” i’m sure my own mama didn’t want to hear it when she lost her own baby at birth.

don’t get me wrong. i’m not bagging on the religions because i’m an agnostic. i’m saying that they don’t work for me. that doesn’t mean that they don’t work for you and millions of people worldwide.

if you have answers, i’d love to hear them because i do want to know how people confront these questions and how they reconcile so much pain and suffering with god. it doesn’t make sense for me, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make sense for you.


5 Responses to “death and all his friends”

  1. Katerz1 March 17, 2010 at 7:44 pm #

    As you may have gathered by now, I am not religious. I like to call myself an “ex-Mormon athiest raised by Irish Catholics & married to a Jew” cuz I like how that sounds. Also, it’s true.

    In re: your comments on what religious people say when someone dies… that may indeed have been the time when I decided I was actually an athiest, and not just agnostic. When my mom died, and EVERYONE told me, either in person or in cards, “She’s in a better place now.” IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, how I wanted to kick the crap out of those people.

    That’s all I really wanted to say.

    Thanks for posting this!

  2. Sarah March 16, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

    I remember seeing an interesting show on 60 minutes (or some crazy show like that) a few years ago about a study that had been done on “being religious.” The results of the study had something to do with a “religious gene” and the idea that some people are genetically predisposed to being of faith while others are not.

    It really struck a chord with me. I really want to be one of those people who finds great comfort in “god”, but in reality, I simply do not.

    And actually, in many ways, believing in “god” makes me feel worse about my life! Why does he hate me? Why does he do this to me? I am a “good person” why does this keep happening? etc etc etc.

    It’s far easier to believe that it is all just a random collision of protons and electrons.

  3. tara March 12, 2010 at 10:39 am #

    As usual I agree with everything you said. Would it be more interesting if I disagreed now and then?
    When my dad died 3 years ago I struggled with how to have that discussion with my girls. I wanted them to be comforted but I didnt want to not be true to my beliefs (agnostic, unitarian, buddhist mix).
    It seemed so easy just to tell them that grandpa was in heaven. I would like to believe that but i dont. I really, really want that to be true but I cant reconcile with that.
    So, I told them what other people believe and what I believe.
    Not an easy view to have here in Idaho. Even harder when I lived in Utah.
    Thanks for speaking out about this.

  4. Mommy Melee March 12, 2010 at 8:40 am #


  5. Loralee March 11, 2010 at 11:15 pm #

    Love the quotes. I pretty much feel many of the same things about knowing how LITTLE I know.

    And yes, yes, YES to Heather’s answer. I have always said that unless you know the person VERY well and how they react to things, leave God FIRMLY out of your responses about death.


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