Atheism and Grief: Coping with Loss

How do atheists cope with grief and loss? Some thoughts.When a loved one dies, many of us take solace in the idea that they’ve gone to a better place. However, not everyone believes that there is an afterlife or a higher power. There are some that believe that when our time on earth is up and we pass away, that is the end. For the spiritual person, this may sounds hopeless and sad, but atheists also find ways to cope with the grief of losing someone they cared for deeply. Simply because there is no religious aspect to their coping does not make the way atheists grieve much different from the way many believers choose to mourn their loss.

Celebrate their life

A person is remembered for the things they did during their life, not during their death, so it follows that spending time remembering all the great things a loved one did during the course of their life is a fantastic way for people mourning the loss of family or a friend to cope with their grief. We can never truly know what happens to a person after they die, but we certainly can know how a person lived their life. When we choose to tell stories of our loved one’s life, we help them live on in our memories.

Honor their legacy

Just because a person doesn’t believe in an afterlife does not mean that the memory or legacy of the deceased can’t live on. Many times, atheists help their friend or family member “live on” by honoring what was important to them during their life. Whether this means continuing to donate to a charity that was important to the deceased or setting up a scholarship in memory of their loved one, there is great comfort to be found in creating something lasting in the memory of someone who is no longer with us.

Recognize their return to the earth

They may not believe in a higher power, but many atheists still recognize the circle of life. We are a part of the earth, and in the end, our bodies return to it, giving life to plants, which gives life to many animals, so they can care for their young. The way that nature works is a thing of beauty and it may give many a way to experience a more worldly type of life after death.


2 Responses to “Atheism and Grief: Coping with Loss”

  1. From Richard Wade

    Thank you for this very sensitive and accurate characterization of the basic ways that atheists handle grief.

    When atheists are the friends of the bereaved, and they don’t have the usual comforting things to say about the deceased being in a better place, they will often offer to help with the very practical things that need to be done during the chaotic period immediately following the person’s death. Running errands, making phone calls, or providing a meal can be a very real comfort to a person who is reeling from the recent loss of their loved one. Atheists focus on life in the real world, so they are very good at anticipating and handling real world problems.

  2. From Une Belle Vie Customer Service

    Richard – thank you for stopping by! We’re glad you feel it was an accurate representation. Your community is so active and it’s a great compliment that you shared your thoughts with us.

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