Tuesday, January 4, 2011
I was a florist for 18 years. I dealt with many grieving families as they ordered flowers for their loved ones. It showed me how much grief is set in a religious framework in our culture. This presents some difficulty to non-religious people.
While our friends and loved ones are grieving, we want to express our sympathies but there's a 900 lb gorilla in the room, at least for me. I believe death is the end but most people around me believe it is a beginning. It can be hard to support religious friends and family during times of grief and loss simply because the words used to express sympathy in a non-religious way are seldom heard. If we learn by example, who is the example for sharing non-religious condolences?
I know of quite a few atheists who deal with religious grief by staying silent. It gives the impression they are cold and uncaring even if their heart is breaking for their religious loved one.
To help non-religious people share their sympathy and comfort with religious people during times of loss, I wrote Sympathy 101 for Atheists. Please let me know what you think of it. I'd also love it if you'd share how you express your sympathy in non-religious ways.