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  1. #1
    Busy-Bee's Avatar
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    Default Question for athiests - what are you going to tell your children about death?

    I'm specifically after responses from people who do not believe in an omnipresent god, heaven, hell or any sort of existence after death. What do you plan to tell your children when a relative or friend dies?

    I like Aaron Freeman's "The Physicists Eulogy" (below) but I'd have to simplify obviously for a child (and for me!). I'm very interested to hear what other athiests parents intend on saying to their children though.

    You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

    And at one point you'd hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

    And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

    And you'll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they'll be comforted to know your energy's still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you're just less orderly.

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  3. #2
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    That they live on in our memories and in our hearts.

    ETA: I love that quote!

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    I have told my children what nerdgirl99 tells hers...

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    Zombie_eyes is offline Formerly Diamondeyes
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    Quote Originally Posted by nerdgirl99 View Post
    That they live on in our memories and in our hearts.

    ETA: I love that quote!

    This, i have explained death to my ds#1, he is aware the person isnt alive anymore and the only way to see them is to close his eyes and remember the time they spent together.

    Thats it.

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    Same as others have said, in our memories. I was just thinking about what I would do in this situation the other day and it is so hard not to revert to the story that they go somewhere nice etc etc just make kids feel better, but it is so important to hold true to you beliefs and be (age appropriately) honest.

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    It doesn't really answer your question but my 6 ur old nephew who is very curious about god asked his mum what would happen if his dog died and if he would go to god. My sister isn't seriously religious or anything she might believe in heaven idk but she said yes that the dog would go to heaven he said how would we know benji was dead? She said he would stop moving and that we would dig a hole in the ground and bury him at this remark my nephew was horrified and said what happens when gramma dies and the reply was the same thing. I think that you just have to be honest in this situation. My grandparents died when I was young and my mum always tried to shelter us from death which I don't fully agree with. You would be surprised at how well children comprehend with change and information compared to a teenager or adult.

  12. #7
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    Ours is a bit skewed.

    From early on, DD is adamant that there is species-specific 'heavens'. When her rats die, they go to Rat Heaven, which is a big world of grass, with wooden chews everywhere, steak bones, biscuits and tunnels.
    Every 'heaven' is different according to the animals that go there.

    She invented this herself, but calling them 'rat ghost world' not 'rat heaven'. I said the word 'heaven' one day and said it was basically a word to describe 'ghost world'.

    She has a concept of god, we've been to church because she was curious, but she rejected it as silly.

    She's had family members die, and she says they just go to Aunty Leelee Heaven, or GreatPop Bon Heaven.

    Everyone gets a special world where they live forever, and when you die you get your own heaven, but you can visit any other heaven you want. This idea was a great comfort when her rat died; she calmed herself by saying it was okay, one day she can visit Rufus Whiskers in Rat Heaven, and all she had to do was be patient.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ToughLove View Post
    Ours is a bit skewed.

    From early on, DD is adamant that there is species-specific 'heavens'. When her rats die, they go to Rat Heaven, which is a big world of grass, with wooden chews everywhere, steak bones, biscuits and tunnels.
    Every 'heaven' is different according to the animals that go there.

    She invented this herself, but calling them 'rat ghost world' not 'rat heaven'. I said the word 'heaven' one day and said it was basically a word to describe 'ghost world'.

    She has a concept of god, we've been to church because she was curious, but she rejected it as silly.

    She's had family members die, and she says they just go to Aunty Leelee Heaven, or GreatPop Bon Heaven.

    Everyone gets a special world where they live forever, and when you die you get your own heaven, but you can visit any other heaven you want. This idea was a great comfort when her rat died; she calmed herself by saying it was okay, one day she can visit Rufus Whiskers in Rat Heaven, and all she had to do was be patient.
    I love your DD,s version of heaven! I'm going to believe what she does!

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    dd is only 2, but we told her that nana is sleeping in heaven.
    MIL was religious, so she'd be happy with that

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    I think I'd just say what Nerdgirl said. My grandmother told me when her dog died that she was sick so she is now sleeping with a kind man looking after her. I was really confused for years trying to work out if she meant she was dead or what. I kept expecting her to come back or whatever. All I know is that I'd never tell my children that the person/animal is sleeping. I'd just tell them the truth.


 

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