The official blog of University of Missouri Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists, & Agnostics
Earlier this week, I found out that a friend I lived with during one of my years in college recently committed suicide. It made me consider my thoughts on death. Death is something I’ve always had a problem with , my problem being that I’ve never really had a problem with it. It reminds me of the line in “Goodwill Hunting” where Robin Williams tells Matt Damon that he doesn’t know the feeling of real loss, because it only occurs when you lose something you love more than you love yourself. In the past 22 years I’ve lost friends, a distant relative or two and there are things that I love more than I love myself. I just don’t think I’ve ever experienced real loss because I’ve never had to combine these two elements.
I have many friends, but very few that I’m actually very close with. I was never very close to my former roommate mentioned above. I also have a very small family – I don’t have any siblings, and there was never a dad in the equation. So you can’t experience a close loss in the family when there simply isn’t much of a family to lose. All of this has contributed to why it has been hard for me to experience real loss.
I can easily understand why the idea of an afterlife as appealing. Assuming we are all on good grounds when it comes to happy feelings towards our friends and family, the religious person will win every time when compared with a non-believer on the afterlife happy scale. A religious person being happier than a non-believer with their belief in an after-life however holds no weight to it being true.
I hold the view that when my mom and friends die I will never see them again. I would like to believe that I will someday, but that alone doesn’t justify the belief. I mentioned above that my problem with death is that I’ve never had a real problem with it. Let me make it clear that I’m not saying that I want everyone I love to die because I want to feel the kind of emotions that come after losing them. I do think it’s important to experience death though because it reminds us and teaches us how important our loved ones are. It is a way of realizing that this is our lives. We will only get one life (at least that we are aware of) and we should live it in the best way and make the most out of it that we can.
Author Jeremy Locke is a graduate of the University of Missouri with a bachelor’s in biology. He is currently taking a year off from school and plans to attend graduate school in the field of evolutionary biology.