Wouldn't You Prefer to Believe?
I’ve had a pretty shit month. My grandmother died a few weeks ago, and this past weekend my dog had to be put down. I wrote a blog post about the passing of my grandmother where I discussed how I as a non-religious person deal with death, but there are still some points to address.
One point is in relation to something that was said to me several times in the past few weeks: ‘Wouldn’t you prefer to believe that your grandma is in Heaven?’ It’s quite an odd question. I’m sure that the people who said it were trying to console me, but I found it pretty irritating.
Have you ever tried to believe something? Have you ever managed to convince yourself that something you don’t believe is actually true? I spent the last years of being religious trying to believe things that no longer made sense to me and found the whole process agonising. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t escape the fact that I honestly didn’t believe anymore.
If we were able to force ourselves to believe things, there are lots of things I’d like to believe. I’d like to believe that there are no kids dying of starvation. I’d like to believe that crime only happens in TV police dramas. Hell, I’d like to believe the adverts that say that single women in my area are eagerly awaiting my phone call because I’m such a super stud.
I’d love to believe that death isn’t the end and I could be reunited with my loved ones in some paradisiacal afterlife, but I don’t. Maybe the idea would bring me comfort and I’d mourn less; I don’t know.
The fact of the matter is life isn’t always pleasant. Pretending that everything is fine doesn’t change that. In fact, I think that we have to acknowledge the negative aspects of life in order to strive to make things better. If you know that there are hungry people out there, you can donate food to a local food bank. If you know that crimes happen, you can do your best to secure your house. And if you know that life comes to an end, you can do your best to make the most of the time you have and value the people you love. The time you have with them is precious. Treat them well, not because you think there’s a reward in it for you like some mythical afterlife; do it because it’s the only time you have with them.