This blog is about grieving as an atheist, but not only about that. Grief is HUGE. It affects everything, so it is ridiculous to shoe-horn a blog down to one topic matter like that. It is, however, the perspective I have and the experiences I’ve lived through.
I wrote my book Grieving Futures with the idea of simply being as brutally honest as possible about my experiences, so that people who find themselves in a similar place know they aren’t crazy, and they aren’t alone. Many people find the book difficult to read, and I accept that as the price for sharing my story in such an raw and unvarnished fashion. I don’t think my story reflects well on me at all; I really fucked things up, from my health to my relationships to my career. I didn’t do anything right.
And that’s totally acceptable.
I did not want or seek spiritual guidance, or forgiveness, or supernatural answers. That never occurred to me, honestly. I’m one of those “born that way” atheists, who was raised in an agnostic household and felt completely at ease with that. Every once in a while I’ll get to wondering what everyone is all agog over and so I’ll “search for God” and every time, when I find nothing waiting for me at the end of that search, I remain unsurprised about being back where I started.
Grieving as an atheist/agnostic/skeptic, though, seems to me to have a different tone and mettle than the grief that religious people experience. One is not worse (or better) than the other, because each person’s path is unique. This blog isn’t about “setting people straight” or telling mourners that they are doing something wrong, either way. What this is about is a space where godless grief is normal, and accepted, and understood.
I think that’s pretty rare for us, right now.
A Little History:
This is the third edition of this blog; it started out in late 2009 as “A Year of Living Dangerously” and was focused more on the general self-help angle, which was where my head was at then, but it never really gelled for me as a writer.
Then I relaunched as “Patience and Fortitude” in 2011 but still with a very general scope that focused on “surviving tragedy.” I still felt something was missing.
I chose the name because “Patience & Fortitude” is a phrase I have been carrying around with me for years. I first ran across it in the book aptly titled Patience and Fortitude by book historian Nicholas Basbanes, who in turned named the book after the stone lions who guard the New York Public Library. I just loved the balance of the phrase, which reflects the twin pillars of surviving as a mourner.
Finally, in 2012, I finally realized that what I needed was for this blog to reflect my own experiences as an atheist mourner, someone who’s grief is godless. I am aware this will alienate some people, but I feel there are plenty of places on line for religious mourners to share their feelings and pain and hope. There aren’t too many places where atheists can “come out.” Realizing that gave me a mission to revitalize a blog that had essentially lain fallow for a long time.