How do Atheist societies approach death?

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#1
I grew up in a huge conservative Christian family but I've been an atheist for about a decade now. I know of only one other relative who is atheist. Everyone else goes by the book and their whole approach to things is God and Heaven.

My children will grow up without religion but what's concerned me is what do i tell them about mortality? I will admit, the idea of Heaven was comforting as a child. My uncle recently died but my kids only met him twice (my oldest is 3). Eventually I'm going to have to talk to them about death when they lose someone they know.

In general what are some largely atheist society's approach to life and death? What do they tell children who have experienced loss?
 
#4
Czech person here. The country is quite non-religious. Death is sad because that's that. Nothing else to say about it. The only approach to a kid freaking out about death is to tell them something along the lines of "you're so young. You don't even have to worry about that."
 
#9
I dunno about other people but I tell my kids that (in my opinion and others think differently and you must form your own opinions etc etc) when you're dead, you're dead and that's it. No point worrying about it because when it comes you won't be around to know. They seemed happy enough with that.

Apart from the crying.

And the nightmares.
 
#15
Raising a non-religious kid here. We've had a few chats about death, especially around the death of my grandmother, and to us death is just the end. There's nothing more to it. If you aren't starting from having believed in an afterlife beforehand, there's nothing especially scary about there not being an afterlife. That's just the way things are. This is one area where I think it is much harder to have been a believer and later become atheist than it is to have always been atheist.
 
#16
Im not scared of death, Im scared about how bad/ill/sad the people who care about me will feel.

Like Im a teacher student I was out practice at a school where I got a good relationship with the pupils in the class I was 4 weeks in. When they told me on the last day not to go to any places or do anything I could die off because that twould mean I would not be able to be their teacher when Im done as a student, I started thinking about death.

So before the practice happened, I didn't care about death.
 
#18
This has never been an issue for anyone I know (all atheists). I don't remember having any big discussion about it or whatever, I think children are smarter than you give them credit for and they understand the concept of death from a very early age.
 
#19
What are the "atheist societies"?

Speaking as an atheist, none of my Rites of Passage (marriage, child birth, etc) have been complicated by lack of religious belief. I generally find prayer and scripture reading to distance people from the social/emotional connection to the event. It's the same for every funeral I've attended too. Nothing in the bible is as emotionally powerful as the best worldly authors, poets, songwriters, etc.

All I want for my own death/funeral is #1 assisted suicide in the case of any prolonged mental decline, and #2 a friendly celebration.
 
#20
Atheist here, 2 small kids, I don't sugarcoat death, I mean, I don't scare my kids either but when they ask about death or the afterlife I tell them that we keep in our heart and in our memories the loved ones that are no longer with us, and that death is going to happen to us all, that it's part of life. Then I proceed to hug them and buy them ice cream.
 
#22
"Do you remember what it was like before you were born? That's what it's like when you die"

Find comfort in the interminable unflinching abyss.
 

JordanN

Junior Member
#26
Death is literally just ceasing to exist.

When my computer dies, I don't believe it's going to heaven. It just no longer functions and eventually gets recycled or decays.

I find it more level headed to not introduce supernatural elements that science has not actually revealed the answers to. If you die and go to another realm, who created it? Does it also mean bad people like Hitler are there?
 
#27
Celebrate the gift of life and enjoy every moment.

...until death knocks at your door, that's when you find God at the last minute to get all the benefits of religion with none of the drawbacks.
 
#28
I approach it as inevitable thing and am not stressing on it now.

Nothing could possibly make me feel better (I don't need that) since that is how life goes -live and die.
 
#29
I grew up in a huge conservative Christian family but I've been an atheist for about a decade now. I know of only one other relative who is atheist. Everyone else goes by the book and their whole approach to things is God and Heaven.

My children will grow up without religion but what's concerned me is what do i tell them about mortality? I will admit, the idea of Heaven was comforting as a child. My uncle recently died but my kids only met him twice (my oldest is 3). Eventually I'm going to have to talk to them about death when they lose someone they know.

In general what are some largely atheist society's approach to life and death? What do they tell children who have experienced loss?
Atheist here, still going to tell my children about heaven. It's a good lie, like Santa Claus. I'm glad I had that comfort as a child. I wish I was still capable of believing in a afterlife as an adult.
 
#30
By forming a subjective view of all things about love, happiness and harmony etc and then purporting to believe that said views apply objectively. (for some- or many)
 
#31
Star dust to star dust.

It's wierd, but I find it illogically comforting that the things that make me up were born in the celestial furnace of a star, and that's where some of it will end up again.
 
#35
I've never really had a parent-child chat about mortality.

As an atheist I first really started thinking about it in my teens. After some years of study an education I've always found the "The Universe Wastes Nothing" idea enormously comforting.

The biodegradable "coffins" people use where they are planted and their remains used to grow into trees is really beautiful too.
 

efyu_lemonardo

May I have a cookie?
#36
Once one approaches the concept of death and an afterlife rationally it becomes apparent that fear of death is merely masking a much more immediate fear of leading a regretful life.
Keeping this in mind can be a great source of courage as it will inspire one to be true to themselves whenever possible.
 
#37
The fact that nothing lasts forever makes life all the more precious. Just follow your own path, set your own goals, do whatever makes you happy, do right by your family and friends and you'll be at peace in the end. That's pretty much my philosophy. There's no need for heaven, a full life is its own reward.

As for children who have experienced loss, there's no easy answer, we all have to go through that at some point. Just be there and listen to them.
 

snacknuts

we all knew her
#41
Atheist here, still going to tell my children about heaven. It's a good lie, like Santa Claus. I'm glad I had that comfort as a child. I wish I was still capable of believing in a afterlife as an adult.
You're going to talk about the concept of heaven, or tell them that it actually exists and that's where people go when they die? If the latter, I have to ask why. And at what point do you tell them you were intentionally lying to them about all of it?
 
#44
"Do you remember what it was like before you were born? That's what it's like when you die"

Find comfort in the interminable unflinching abyss.
You know i've heard this a lot of times and i really don't like this kind of thing, it focuses too much on life as what you can remember or experience as an individual, which is not a good perspective to have. Personally the most important thing about death is how it's absolutely not about me, but about how things work and transform beyond a scale we're prepared to control. By most measures i already existed before being born, i was just not made up in the configuration of atoms and molecules that can be said to be me, instead scattered and divided. And more importantly things existed before i could remember them, and more importantly still things are happening right now that i can't perceive or understand or even experience, especially things related to my body like what the eye is really seeing or what's happening with my blood or liver or what's traveling up and down the spine. And it's more important that they're happening than it is that i'm aware of them happening.

There's also the thing that most of us deal a lot more with the death of others than our own, and just thinking that they're "off" doesn't actually explain anything about what's happening to their bodies right before, during, after and long after death.
 

JordanN

Junior Member
#46
Atheist here, still going to tell my children about heaven. It's a good lie, like Santa Claus. I'm glad I had that comfort as a child. I wish I was still capable of believing in a afterlife as an adult.
I believe in getting comfort by extending human mortality.

If the end goal of death is just to go to another realm, why do we bother with tragedies on earth? We wouldn't be sad if we knew for certain there's a better life out there.

But like all animals, we always have a desire to live. We should be investing more in science so that it can cure diseases/cancer, increase our lifespan past 100, and overall making the earth be a inhabitable place for future generations to live on (instead of slowing destroying it with pollution and global warming).

But instead, it seems like the promise of an afterlife may as well just be a distraction from learning the above. War & terrorism will exist because one side isn't scared to die and thus they can do any heinous action on earth and feel rewarded for it.
 

efyu_lemonardo

May I have a cookie?
#47
Once one approaches the concept of death and an afterlife rationally it becomes apparent that fear of death is merely masking a much more immediate fear of leading a regretful life.
Keeping this in mind can be a great source of courage as it will inspire one to be true to themselves whenever possible.
And as practical advice stemming from this: your primary objective from a very young age should be to figure out who you are, what you want out of life and how you plan to achieve it. Start with the little things and work your way up to fulfil your grander aspirations.
 
#50
Accept that death is inevitable and that when you die, that's it. No second chances, no heaven. Make sure you do everything you want in the one life you have.

I don't know that saying that would be comforting to a child.
Don't coddle the kid. Be honest.
 
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