Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why Grieve?

Why Grieve?

I am coming into a time in my life where my relatives, friends and colleagues are losing their much loved and cherished parents and grandparents. It is sad, I feel for them and I too will be facing these difficult times myself in the future.

The funeral services I have attended have had religious content. I hope I have shown no disrespect to the lives of the individuals by not reciting the prayers with the group. I see no reason to participate as I do not believe that the individual is headed towards a kingdom in the sky. In my opinion, the kingdom in the sky does not exist and the guardian of the kingdom is simply a fairy tale.

The general content of these prayers is about the safe passage of the soul of the individual into the kingdom in the sky, and that the guardian helps them on their way. Assuming the soul has a safe passage and isn't held up by road works, the soul is now in the company of previously passed relatives peering down on the physical earth. In a religious context, this is the happiest place to be, eternally.

Given this idea of eternal happiness, why do believers grieve when a loved one dies?

As a non-believer, I grieve as I know I will never interact with that person again. Their voice, their touch, their presence. This person no longer lives, but as one celebrant said, "Out of sight, should not be out of mind". I still have memories and hear stories about this person. I remember them and I remember their legacy. In a sense, a non-believer experiences a true loss as there is no reunion, ever.

I would imagine that if I truly believed in spiritual reunions with loved ones passed, and they were enjoying eternal happiness, then I would be feeling an overwhelming sense of happiness for this individual. Maybe in a fit of jealousy, I would be upset that I wasn't there to enjoy it as well.

In the context of eternity, the time that passes during our earthly lives is irrelevant. Compare infinity to 1 if you like. Now consider the time between successive generations passing on. Such a short time and it's not that long until, as a believer, you rejoin your loved ones passed, in happiness, and do so for eternity.

So why do believers grieve when it is such a temporary situation? I suspect they know deep down that the idea of a kingdom in the sky is absurd and they essentially experience exactly the same true loss that a non-believer experiences.

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