Grieving Godlessly

Andrew Sullivan —  Sep 29 2013 @ 10:43am

After attempting to comfort a friend in mourning, Tiffany White wonders if atheists can come up with language as comforting as spiritual platitudes:

“I’m sorry for your loss” felt too impersonal. That’s what you say to acquaintances, not best friends. “I’m here for you”, I told her, which still didn’t feel like enough.

I felt like I should have been saying the usual things: “God is with her now”, “She’s now in heaven” or “You’re in my prayers”. These phrases sound better because these are the phrases we’re used to saying. “She’s in a better place” provides a sense of hope and optimism. “You’re in my prayers” shows caring and understanding. But that day, as I stood there on the phone struggling to think of the right things to say, I realized I couldn’t say those phrases anymore. I couldn’t tell her I was praying for her because I wasn’t. I couldn’t tell her I thought her mother was in “a better place” because to me that place was a hollow grave.

I started to realize that the life of an atheist was a tad bleak. The more I spoke, the darker the conversation became. As I drawled on about how “there was nothing you could have done” and “it is what it is”, I started to feel like a black hole. When did atheism transform me into Daria?