Death, for believers from many different faiths, is a new beginning. Death is the point in which your deeds and dedication to your god begin to be rewarded and for many it is something to look forward to. I overhear Christians talking about the joys of heaven fairly frequently, at funerals I hear pastors talk about how much better off the deceased are than those of us left here grieving.
Losing faith comes with many difficult trials for most. Facing the reality of death is one of those trials, coming to grips with the knowledge that what you once looked forward to may be the absolute end of your existence entirely. Recognizing this can be painful and scary not only when we consider our own lifespan but also of those we love.
I don’t know what happens after we die, it seems that our organs and our brains stop functioning and with that our consciousness does as well. I don’t have any reason to believe that we have “souls” or “spirits” even though those things sound nice. I think this one life is all we have, anyone that claims to know otherwise is lying or is falsely convinced that he is correct.
Often during the transition from faith to doubt many find themselves facing an existential crisis where the end result of life becomes overwhelming and scary, life without something to shoot for might seem purposeless and depressing. For me this recognition of ultimate fatality made me recognize the scarcity of life; with less than 100 years to do as much as I can as opposed to the eternity I once believed in, I suddenly have more purpose than ever. I have lots to do if I want to make an impact on my world and my society – now more than ever life is full of purpose and meaning because it is so rare , so short, and so fleeting. I appreciate life more now than I did as a believer and one of my biggest fears is wasting it on falsities. I no longer have eternity to look forward to and in the market of life this scarcity makes it all the more valuable.
I don’t think any of this means that we can’t be sad about death or that we shouldn’t be afraid to die, fearing death is one of the mechanisms of survival we’ve evolved to have. Death of a loved one hurts, it’s supposed to hurt to not have someone you love around any longer – death is an inconvenient and uncomfortable truth that will happen to all of us and grieving is normal and perfectly fine.
Defining “making the best of it” isn’t something I can do for anyone – I think you have to decide that for yourself. What do you want your life to represent? What do you value enough to dedicate this one life to? I can answer those things for myself, but they are as varied as the human race.
Fatality doesn’t make life meaningless, it makes life more precious and meaningful. Remember that and make the best of what you have.
If you are a person dealing with doubts about your faith, or in the process of leaving your faith, please join my new community at EmbracingDoubt.com where support, counseling, and discussion will be available to anyone in need. (currently this site is a work in progress)