A Death In The Family and The Only Atheist in the Room

I have lost a favorite Aunt this week and I am in a sea of religion right now.  I loved her so very much and for the most part the religious stuff does not bother me, in fact it is helping me understand my position better.  In the past I would be viewing this phenom from the church pew but as an atheist this is new uncharted terriroty.


I am torn between deference and respect and the need to scream at the top of my lungs that I do not believe that I am an atheist.  It would not do to hang all this laundry out on the day of th funeral however I am getting that itch you get when you are supposed to behave but you have no means at your disposal to do so.


The physician who took care of my Aunt sent a card chocked full of Bible verse and he explained how no matter what we mere humans can do that GOD is in charge ultimately and we should just be content with that explanation.  Oh how I wish I could get that man alone in a room for a couple of hours.  I could beat him over the head with my intellectual muscle because despite that fact that he went to medical school and I did not I do believe that his citing bible and verse to my grieving cousins as reasons for my Aunt's untimely death is at the very least cowardly. 


Okay maybe I am a bit angry, however things happened in my Aunt's case that leaves me a little bit confused as to what actually happened to her.  Okay she had a carotid endarterectomy on Monday and she was dead by Tuesday evening.  This is not unusual the first 1-2 days post surgery is often the time when bad things happen.  She was not producing enough urine so she had started to retain water her heart went and then she had a bowl infarct and that was the end.  


I want to tell my cousins my Uncle and my Mom, who lost her very best friend in the world, that it was not God, it was biology and years of wear and tear on the body, through hypertension and weight gain and loss and age.  It is what happens it is unfortunate and I nearly hit the ground when I heard she was gone but the truth at least to me is that her body just failed to survive the surgery.


Why can't the surgeon see this?  Why can't people understand this?  Why do we have to give some innocent non existent being the blame and the credit?  


It is so much easier for me to accept her death when I can look at it from the biological side.  To try and make sense using god and the bible and religion only causes more confusion for me.  It always did.  I could never understand why a god would choose to lay so much crap on us and then take away those we love, if he "so loved the world" then why doesn't he just get on with it and act like it?  Why?  Because he does not exist, this thing this entity, deity thing is not there and that is what I want to yell, I am pissed she is gone.  She deserved so many more years, the kindest most gentle soul I will ever know.  I must attend a funeral mass tomorrow and if any of you have ever done this please feel free to advise in any way you can because I don't know if I can keep my mouth shut.


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I am in the same situation now, I have an Aunt dying of cancer, as well as a cousin in hospital with a bad  case appendicitis . Now the whole family are Catholics and I am the atheist.  I understand the ability that religion brings to them, but they keep saying bullshit nasty stuff, that any clear thinking person would rather puke than say.
Yes, my dying aunt's sister even said that God never gives you more than you can handle. Fuck! that was after she had just spend three weeks by her bedside watching the morphine fail to take away the pain. And I am supposed to be the good polite little atheist boy and shut the fuck up about this.

I dare any of you to tell me that I am wrong to think these thoughts, I do a wonderful throat punch, think carefully. How do I handle these idiots, I know they do not think about what they say, but don't I count as well ?  I have the grandfather of the cousin with the busted stomach, going around getting people to pray all the time, and the kids aunt has some ritual that needs a fives time a day prayer session.

Imagine if these kind folk of my family had to read this rant of my here, they would not get it and would be really hurt by it.

So how do you guys suggest Aimee Eisiminger and I handle this type of things. For my part, if anyone want to email private like, I would not mind at all.  Send to balstrome@gmail.com.

Thanks guys.

When my dad died at 47 (I was 27, and he died on Father's Day, on the way to answer a phone call from me), I had to figure out how to handle his funeral. He was a nonreligious, drug addicted, physically and emotionally abusive asshole who I am glad is gone. I feared what he may have done to my children after what he did to me, and I didn't want to have to deal with going to jail for killing his ass if he so much as raised his voice to them. But that's a subject for another post.


Back to his funeral. His brother (my uncle) and I decided to have him cremated. We had him put in his favorite jeans and t-shirt, his favorite hat, and we played Statesboro Blues by the Allman Bros as he was burned up (cremated). No prayers, no preacher - just us.


But, because we're Southern and funerals are a big deal down here, we still had a funeral service for him at the funeral home only (we didn't inter him right away). We had the preacher, the whole service bullshit, strictly for the religious who wanted to be there. Why did we do it? Mainly for the religious family and friends to have that cathartic process. And that's what a funeral really is - a cathartic process that allows the religious to say goodbye. And you know what? It doesn't bother me. When I have friends or relatives die I go through the niceties and deal with it internally, because I understand this is what they need to cope. Do I need it? Nah. Does it bother me? Yep - but I also realize that this is NOT the time to tell everyone else who is there grieving that what they're doing is ludicrous. They are there to mourn their loss, and their religion is how they cope - and to be honest, I can't begrudge them that. There is no way I am ever going to get them to see my point of view, or get them to realize their beliefs are bullshit, so I have to pick my battles and move on. So, this is the one time I swallow my indignation and go through the motions, for the sake of friends and loved ones. I have made my peace with their demise; I need to afford them the opportunity to do so as well, in their own way.


I know this is probably not the answer you are looking for; but hopefully it gives you something to think about.


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