Hi I'm Tianna. I'm new to this site but let me tell you a bit about me to introduce my topic. Growing up my family is super religious. I was sent to a religious school and expected to participate in every church function. At school there was this boy in my class. Hes now in my college classes and we talk but not to deeply. I found out a couple days ago though that he had a girlfriend who got diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. She was a very kind girl, who gave everything she could to help out other people. Even when the make a wish foundation contacted her she asked for wells to be built in Uganda. She was an amazing girl but passed away a few days ago. I want to give him my condolences but don't want to be a hypocrite and say "I'm praying for you"  Please let me know what you as an atheist would do or say?

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You can simply say that "she and he are in your thoughts".

You can give condolences and be honest.

I'd them that I'm sorry for their loss, that they'll be in your thoughts and that I'll help any way I can / here if they need anyone to talk too. Offering the reassurance that she is no longer has to suffer may help too. They may take these statement/offers in a religious context. But you can't do anything about that, plus you actually offered non-religious thoughts so you can rest assured that you also weren't hypocritical.

 

Cheers!

I do the same thing

perfect!

 

Atheists face death and loss just like all other people. Sure, we may disagree with theists on what happens after death, but that doesn't mean that death itself isn't a shared human experience.  Most of us -- not as atheists, but rather as fellow human beings -- have thoughts and feelings on loss, and we have sorrow and sympathy for those who are grieving.

 

I think, if you focus on your feelings toward this person and his girlfriend, there's probably some religiously neutral sentiment you can voice.  In terms of things you can offer other than prayers: sympathies, condolences, thoughts, some kind words... take any compassionate feeling you have towards this person in his time of need and try to express it honestly.

I usually say something simple along the lines of "I'm sorry for your loss."
Well said, and exactly what I'd imagine myself saying.
Very tough indeed and I don't think there are any easy answers. I usually try to help people in practical ways because I'm not that good at offering emotional support. All I can suggest is a hug and encouragement for him to 'have faith' that he will find the strength to get through this.

Hi Tianna and welcome to TA!  You will find these and other types of advice questions are welcome. 

 

I agree with what others have said. You can say "you and your family and in my thoughts and if there is anything I can do please do not hesitate to ask".  You can be very clear in your empathy while at the same time not feel like you are selling out. 

Very well said.
Yes, very good response.
I could never bring myself to say "I'm sorry" and certainly never said anything resembling "I understand." I'm sorry seemed so inadequate and I could not understand pain resulting from a loss so complete. Then, 2 years ago my only brother died from a preventable cause. For 6 months or so, I cried rivers when alone. EVERY time anyone said they were sorry a tear would roll down my cheek and for some reason, I felt just slightly better. So, today I don't hesitate to say "I'm sorry" for their loss, if I really am--And how can one not be sorry for a loss of such magnitude. And although I rarely say "I understand" to anyone, I do indeed understand complete and utter devastation of massive grief. If you feel sympathy toward another human being who has suffered a tragedy, my advice is to tell them so, you might help facilitate their healing just a little bit.

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