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March 3, 2009 1:43 PM Subscribe
Someone close to me recently passed away. For the most part I'm okay, but what stops me in my tracks is the idea that there may not be an afterlife. How do I come to terms with this?
posted by Metroid Baby to religion & philosophy (41 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
My dad died last month after a year-long battle with cancer. I was expecting him to stick around for a little while longer, but all of us knew that it was inevitable, and we were as prepared as anyone could be. Dad was happy, went peacefully, and even considered death to be something of an adventure.
Generally speaking, I'm doing okay. I miss him terribly, but I'm grateful to have had him be a part of my life. I'm grateful for all the people who have shared memories of Dad and let us know how much they appreciated him. I'm a little more teary-eyed these days, but on the whole I'm functional and my grief seems to be pretty manageable.
There's just one thing.
A few days after the funeral, I was home alone and realized: What if there's no afterlife? It hit me like a ton of bricks, and it still keeps me up at night sometimes. I had been okay with the idea of my father being deceased, but the idea of my father being completely nonexistent terrifies me. Until recently, it didn't occur to me that those two things might be one and the same.
I consider myself agnostic; reason leads me to believe that there is no higher power, but I'm not always a person of reason. Dad was a pretty spiritual guy, particularly in the last year, and although he didn’t talk about heaven, and admitted he didn't know what happens to us after we die, he did believe that something of us stuck around, continued on, after the end of physical life.
I always figured that if there was an "other side," and if it were possible for the dead to reach back and contact us from that other side, that Dad would certainly do it. I desperately wanted him to be right. As silly as it might sound, on some level I was expecting some sort of Obi-Wan Kenobi apparition, for Dad to appear and tell me that the Force was with me all along.
But with each passing day I'm less and less sure that's possible.
I've wrestled with the thought of death being the end before, but always in the context of my own mortality. These days, I'm not particularly concerned with what will happen to me, just the idea that Dad is totally and completely gone forever. I've looked at previous AskMes about grief, the afterlife, and mortality, but I haven't found anything that really addresses this particular issue.
I can't be the only person to wrestle with this – I'm guessing this issue is what first led people to believe in an afterlife. But I'm not sure how to wrap my head around it. I'm wondering if anyone might have any advice, or can point me toward something to read that might help me sort out my thoughts, or if this is just something that I'll figure out with time.
I appreciate your help and apologize if this question meanders a bit or sounds ridiculous. Thanks as always.