Thursday, September 17, 2015

Monopoly on Comfort

Last week a good friend of mine died. He was young. He was fairly healthy. He died of something that should have been easily preventable...had he only had health insurance. But, like millions of other Americans, he had no way to pay for a regular doctors visit so he could get a simple, generic medication that could have prevented his death. But, that's another rant.

This rant is about all the friends and family of his that sent out dozens of messages of prayers and 'god's love'. 

This pissed off ALL of his secular friends. 

You see, my friend, his name is Heath (real name), was an atheist. He was a part of my secular community. He had atheist friends. His family disowned him and didn't speak to him for DECADES for various reasons, one of which included his lack of belief. He found a community at the Secular Hub. He walked into our lives one day and nestled there. He was one of us. A part of our 'tribe', as someone put it. He was ours and we were his. We were growing a stronger community together. And we came together as a stronger community because of this tragedy. 

His aunt, who had not spoken to him in 3 decades, sent a message to his Facebook saying that he was 'wrapped in God's arms'. His friends, old school friends, army buddies, what-have-you, wrote on his wall about how, even though he didn't believe, it didn't mean that God didn't believe in him. (By the way, lady, it's incredibly classless to call his property manager to ask for all his jewelry or anything of value while he was still breathing by ventilator in the ICU. Bitch) 

I was shaking with anger. 

These people were so disrespectful of Heath and his opinions they didn't even PRETEND to hide it. "All he did was bash the bible but I'm still praying for him." 

Fuck. You. 

You do not get to have the moral high ground because you think your religion is the know-all and be-all of life. 

You do not get to rub your religion in a dying man's face when he is unable to argue back. 

You do not get to tell his friends, the ones who were actually there for him in his hospital room, that you are praying for us and him, even though you KNOW we are atheists. 

You do not get to play the jilted Christian when the atheists remind you that we are not comforted by your empty words of prayer. 

Your particular brand of false comfort and hope does not help us. It does not make us feel looked-after, comforted, or better. Our friend is dying. We will never again be able to debate with him, take him for a beer, or laugh with him. We will never be able to make new memories with him. Mocking us with false promises of an afterlife with him is just hurtful. Especially since you have condemned us to hell for not believing in the first place. 

And, by us pointing that out to you, does not give you the right to pretend that we are everything you imagined we are; angry. 

We are able to cope just fine without your mythical sky-daddy, thank you. We will always remember the arguments, debates, funny stories, adventures, and general goofiness of our friend Heath. We will remember him as he was; not just in a hospital bed. We will remember him hiking, shoveling the sidewalk in front of the Hub, eating all the stale popcorn after our movie nights, being there at every lecture just to learn more, and being the greatest reminder of the 90's we never knew we needed. 

We will remember because that's all we have. We have our memories. I hope to have half the friends there for me when I'm in need as he did. The best we can do is live this life to the fullest, with the best possible people, and with a love for life that can't be measured in bible quotes. We don't get a second chance. We don't get a reward for being a good person in the afterlife. We don't get to be 'called home' one day.

Our reward is that we have a happy life right now. With friends who support us. By helping our community. By being good people just because we want to make our ONLY home a better place. 

We lost our friend. Just like you. However, we loved him no matter what. We accepted him for all his quirks, his ridiculous love of Buffy, his intellect, wit, and, of course, his atheism. Unlike you. 


  1. That was a really wonderful piece of writing. I am so sorry for your loss and I empathize with your situation with his family. But it WILL get better. You'll still have all of your good memories but the anger you feel towards those thoughtless, self-righteous assholes will fade faster than you'd think. Because they aren't what matters.... the time you had with your friend is.

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words. We remember Heath daily and have learned to really cherish the little time we have with our friends. My anger that his family has already faded but the annoyance I have at the religious community overall for their arrogance when it comes to grief may always be something I will struggle with.