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What are your best coping strategies for dealing with death?

How effective are they?

atheist 8 Mar 11

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I think Dr. Seuss said it best, "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

@atheist Of course, you're absolutely right. Grieving is a process. In the last four years, I've lost both of my parents and the love of my life. Before that my young niece, my brother-in-law, my sister-in-law and the list goes on. Grieving is a process. We will forever have moments of longing for the ones we loved and are brought to tears for no apparent reason. I personally find great comfort in looking and pictures and videos and remembering the great times we had together and how much the ones I've lost enriched my life. And so, I go back to Dr. Seuss, and I try to remember how lucky I've been to have such wonderful people in my life.

@atheist being told to face reality is hardly a platitude neither is "don't cry over spilt milk".

@lhcoastal Wow, you have definitely been through the wringer. That's a lot of loss in four short years. 😟 I relate to your sentiment "....moments of longing for the ones we loved and are brought to tears for no apparent reason.

@atheist Yep it's like telling a grieving Christian that they needn't worry because there is neither hell nor heaven for the deceased to go to as there is no god.


My "coping" mechanism is going with the grief and allowing it to play out naturally. I am fortunate in that sometime during my earlier years, I came to grips with the notion that everything dies at some point and that mourning is really for ourselves because of the hole that has appeared in our lives. I have accepted death and the human need to grieve. As I have grown older, that process has increased in frequency, but the increase has not reduced the personal pain. What it has done, I have noticed, is reduced the time of grief a bit.

@atheist -- Precisely.


I accept it as the reality that it is and try not to give it too much thought. I am ready on the day it happens.


I'm probably going to be looked upon as pretty heartless, but I don't have a problem with death. It's inevitable, and it happens to every living thing, sooner or later.
The older I get, the more accepting of it I am. I've lost people close to me and not spent much time grieving over them.

@atheist I think that's probably the nicest thing you've ever said to me. Thanks! 😉

I agree. It's not that you are not sad that someone you love is gone, or that you will be gone one day as well. It's knowing that it is the way things are, & trying to accept that. I think the fear of death is one of the largest problems we face when trying to wean folk from religion. Tho religions answers are patently false, they are comforting to many, who cling to them as to a life preserver. As long as the fear of death persists, so will religion.

@phxbillcee That and the ability to complete the bucket list hoped for with the dead.

@ScienceBiker I'm sorry you sometimes feel bad about not feeling "enough". I think that's something we do to ourselves unnecessarily. There's so little profit in comparing how we feel (or don't) about things in relation to how others react to the same things. Although, I do get on myself when I start thinking some folks feel "too much". We're all different. We get to be different.


Understand that death is part of life, nothing lives forever. And that the matter that makes us is recycled back into the universe so we're never really gone. Neil DeGrasse Tyson has a good description of that.

At least they got the dust to dust stuff right.

@atheist Death is part of life. No one gets out alive. Yes it hurts to miss someone, but life does go on. Live so that you will show respect for who they were and what they stood for.

Death? Just accept it. And in the meantime, enjoy the taste of every morsel of life. Don’t settle for jus feedin; eat with gusto every minute, every second.


I am autistic apparently, and I have emotional blocks, so most of the time I don't feel much. The loss of a pet hits me hard, and I could never cope with the loss of a child, other than that, well, I guess I am as cold as people say.


My soulmate, my husband died in 2001. I was 40. I was a mess. I knew he was going to die because he had cancer, but I still really lost my shit. It was scary. Like totally uncharted waters. What I did figure out myself was I should just let it happen, whether I was in an appropriate location (home) or not (work). For my first year back at work I would spontaneously burst into tears. I had always been able to control my emotions publically. That was a surprise. I started seeing a therapist and he basically saved me. My Mom died a few years ago and my grief for her was not really painful. Only because she was suffering so much. I miss her like crazy, but I'm glad she's not here in all that pain.

The time and situation were different for me, but I was forty as well; my soulmate, my husband, was about to turn 37, and one day my 9-yr-old son came home from school and found him on the floor, having died from a heart attack. He got a neighbor and they called 911 and called me at work, and it was the worst day of my life, having a priest, nurse and Dr come into the hospital waiting room knowing what they were going to say, and knowing that I was going to have to tell my son his hero was dead.

I went to a counselor too, and she was wonderful. She encouraged me so much - one of the things I was worried about most was whether I was handling things right with my son. All I knew was that my mother had done things wrong with me when my father died when I was ten. She was such a big help to me, I'll never forget it.

When it came to be a year later, she was concerned about how I was going to handle the "anniversary". I told her that although it was the date that he died, it wasn't the day he died, so I didn't feel I needed to relive it. Sure, I would never forget, but the experiencing the raw emotion of that day's mourning was over, and would never happen again. She was surprised because I was so logical about it; she told be that frequently people don't think that way. So i guess my logical way of thinking helped me.

@ThinkKate I feel the same way about the anniversaries. Other people make more of a thing of the two significant death anniversaries in my world than I do. I miss them and long for them and wish they were still here any day, every day, no special day.

@ThinkKate I'm a lot more logical now. Then my emotions were running the show. It would be years before i got a grip.


Seeing as how I'm actually experiencing this..right now, at this moment, crying and bourbon really work for me...just sayin.

😟 I'm sorry. I have been there.


I still have a difficult time with my younger brother's murder, that was almost 30 years ago. My younger sister, that's a completely different story. It happened 4 years ago, she overdosed on heroin, sadly everyone knew that she was going to end up dead. Basically still trying to figure out my brothers. My sister, I dealt with it, with quite a few tears and a couple of weeks of grieving.


Talking to a therapist. I went about my mother's death the wrong way. I was 18 when cancer took her. I started cutting and going to the psych ward on her birthday, Xmas, death date, and mother's day. I didn't want to talk about it either. It took 8 years to learn to let her go. I'm over it now. I no longer cut (5 years sober of that) and I no longer go to the hospital. I don't think of her anymore. I don't cry anymore either. That is what you should not do to get over death. Talk to people.

good for you on your five years.

@Celestia Thanks.


love the person and do for them the best you can before they die.

Spot on.


I lost my beloved 20-year-old niece recently. This death hit me harder than most. Losing my parents at vastly different ages, (father when I was 6 years old and mother when I was 40 years old), let me see death at different levels of understanding. Losing my young father, unexpectedly, at the age of 6 while living in a very religious family led me to my first thoughts of atheism. I heard the platitudes that “only the good die young” making me a confirmed rebel for life, and that “God called him up to be with Jesus”, which I thought was terribly unfair and selfish of God since I needed him here with me. I don’t believe I ever looked at religion the same after that. I don’t believe I ever looked at religion the same after that. At the age of six I just accepted things as they are. I still think that’s the best strategy.

My mother’s death, when I was 40, came to her after a long and terrible illness and though I missed her, and still do miss her, my grief was reasonable. I was glad she was no longer suffering. I didn’t need the thought that I would see her again in heaven to help me through the grief. I rejoiced in her life and cherished our close relationship. I determined that the here and now is the most important thing in life. It taught me to not take any relationship for granted. It strengthened me to weed out the toxic relationships in my life. I was able to rely on the support of my living loved ones to get me through the grief.

My young niece’s recent death is a wholly different thing. She died instantly, (at least I hope it was instantly), in a car accident less than a quarter mile from her house. She died 9 months ago and the grief is still just barely held in check. I think it’s because she and my daughter are the same age. The girls were inseparable. It’s harder, as an adult to see the death of someone so young, just starting her life. There are no platitudes that work for that. I think the only thing that will work for me is time. I live in fear that my own kids will die before me. I don’t know how to get over that other than intensifying my belief that we cannot take our loved ones for granted. Since we never know when the end will come, we can never waste a moment on useless squabbles. I think back to the days when my niece would come into my office, interrupting my work, to talk endlessly about various things, and I would wish in the back of my mind that she would wrap it up so I could go back to my deadlines or whatever. Today, I’d give anything for one of those talks. I never think, “wrap it up” to anyone now.

It is precisely because I am an atheist that that I feel the need to change the tone and involvement of my relationships. I don’t believe I will see them in an afterlife. I believe I will only see them in a present-life. It changes the way you look at people. You cannot take them for granted. I accept things the way they are.Letting myself cry and experiencing the sorrow when it comes helps. It doesn't last too long now and the calm times in-between are longer, but I still feel it acutely when I feel it.

Whilst I can comprehend your grief may I suggest that much of arises from your unfulfilled hopes and desires for seeing your niece continue and achieve in her life.
With regard to your living loved ones may I suggest that you have a serious discussion giving each other permissions to die before each other. Simultaneously you should be exchanging bucket lists of those things that you hope to have occur before the finally of death prevents further interpersonal accomplishments. Also consider living wills and powers of attorney.
Like you I suddenly lost my brother 20 years ago. We were not close but were family. His death affected me far more than I expected for the simple reason that I had always hoped that we would one day have an adult relationship mutually beneficial to each of us. After a very short period of grieving to enable identification of the cause of the unexpected grief it was time to stop living in the past using it as an excuse for not modifying life plans but to live in today.
May the Companions of Health, Peace and Fulfilment travel with you.


Avoidance, dissociation, staying busy.

Yeah I didn't say they were good coping strategies


We ALL die. We begin our journey to its end when we are born.

It has for me. It all comes down to acceptance for me. Death is a natural part of life, just like breathing and pooping. It happens to us all.

Nobody gets out alive.


By just accepting it. Cry and move on. But the last funeral I went to, I was really close to them as a child and even as I got older and I didn't even cry. I'm so used to family members dying I think I've become immune to it.

@atheist I do think you can become desensitized to a certain degree but I think it depends on the person, their personality, life experience and probably even their mental health.


Your own death or the death of a loved one? For my own death, I know the good parts of my character will live on through any I've touched in any memorable way, and the bad parts hopefully will act as a deterrent to making similar mistakes as mine. For those I leave behind, I hope that I've shown them as much love and appropriate responsibility to carry with them the knowledge they were cared for by me.

For the death of loved ones, that's much harder of course. There is no way to escape the grief, it is hard. So I suggest accepting it and giving yourself some time to put your thoughts and energy into dealing with the necessary matters, on the loved one's behalf.

Whether it be planning a lovely tribute to him/her, handwriting letters to those on his/her address book who may not have heard about the death, and talking in person with people who also miss him/her. I found that talking directly about (rather than avoiding) the loved one soothed the part of me missing the recently departed one.

In a way, talking about him/her helps to keep the spirit of his/her personality alive just a little longer, until the hole in you heart is filled with memories, whether they be humorous personality quirks, life lessons, passions pursued, causes they stood up for, talents, strengths, weaknesses, etc.

Once the initial grief is over and you have absorbed the good qualities and forgiven the bad, and put the affairs in order, make sure you take time to honor his/her memory on various occasions. Perhaps visit a favorite place, play some favorite music, do a favorite activity the loved one enjoyed. If there is a physical place where the remains are buried or scattered, try to find peace gazing at the view.

There is no right or wrong way to handle grief, but as agnostics, we don't have that false security that our loved one is dancing on the clouds in heaven while angels play their harps. But though we don't have that loved one close in our arms, warm and near, we can create a warm place in our hearts and memories and carry on stronger by reflecting some strengths and talents we learned by their living. Make sure the life wasn't lived in vain - make it count for something by continuing on.

Those are my thoughts.


I was a teenager when my mother committed suicide. The best strategy I found was acknowlegde the loss you have suffered ( they are gone and miss nothing) , Acknowlegde that life ends, for evrything. Be appreacative for the time you had.. move on.


I had a tough time with it when my 39 year old daughter died. Even though I believe there is really no such thing as death, just a change in dimension, it was hard to come to terms with not being with her. Since I believe in reincarnation, I will be with her again as I have before. Also, grief doesn't go away--you just learn to live around it.

So sorry for your loss.

no, it doesn't really diminish--you just get over the initial shock and learn to live around it. But certain things bring it up to the top and it is just overwhelming and raw as it was at first

Death? Just accept it. And in the meantime, enjoy the taste of every morsel of life. Don’t settle for jus feedin; eat with gusto every minute, every second.


I cry because I'm sad that I'll never be with them again. I remember the good times. I am at peace with myself because I don't burn the bridges between us, I may not agree with them but my door is always open to them. They will be the ones who have to burn the bridges and shut the door.
I allow myself to miss them, sometimes I see a certain car, or the back of someone's head at the V.A. and I think "There is Dad." for a fleeting moment. My father may have been the biggest negative influence and I hated him for many decades, in his later years he began to change and I was able to make peace with him.
Just do your best in life, allow yourself to be sad and miss them, make time for them while they're alive, don't dwell on the death as much as possible, learn from it.


I have yet to figure it out. It's different for everyone, especially if it was traumatic like mine. It haunts me daily. It's been two years but I still mourn every day, suffer from night terrors and panic attacks and flashbacks. I have become more myself, though. At first I couldn't sleep or eat for weeks. Any time people said "would he want to see you like this?" I wanted to scream that what he would want no longer matters. I'm still angry, too. I don't think the anger will ever truly go away, nor the pain. When I realized I was having PTSD I immediately started seeing a therapist, who confirmed it, but was at a loss because I'm so familiar with all of the suggestions and therapies and already tried them all. I got on antianxiety and antidepressants and those helped me at least get somewhat back to normal and I just keep doing the therapies. I work in an e.r. so it's hard to avoid triggers but I'm trained well enough to contain my hysterics until after I've finished the job, I try to focus on the fun and happy memories when I start to get upset, but those just feel like a giant hole is missing.

For now I'm just trying to let it resolve naturally. There's no time limit on grief and who knows, maybe someday I'll be able to remember and smile instead of cry.

That's just my experience. Whatever grief you have, whomever you lost, I wish you the best of luck in finding your center again. But don't feel like you are wrong or broken or weird for taking however long you need to feel better. Best wishes

@atheist to an extent. I believe grief will ALWAYS be there, but that eventually we adjust to it. Those that don't are the ones that find problems later.


When my mom passed away, I found good literature to cope reading Seneca.


When talking about deceased loved ones we mostly hear about the loss. The loss is only pertinent to the human who feels they lost something, Why? We lost nothing, we only noticed the transition of a living human to a dead human, The process afterwards is only relative to the ones who remain as a living human I see death as not sad, it hurts tremendously but it is not a loss rather a gift I loved for the time I had it.
Then when people embalm the deceased I am out of the picture. I will not attend a funeral, The abomination of embalming a wonderful organism is just disgusting, We do this to keep the body fresh for longer viewing of the ones who feel they lost.

EMC2 Level 8 Mar 13, 2018

@atheist I have to say I believe the method of burial is very important. Like you, I am an a atheist however I do understand the laws or best practices of mother nature. Life is continuous and only wears masks throughout. All the atoms making you and all here are 14 billion years old . So when we die , I believe we must give back to our creator, Mother Nature. We cannot wash our blood down the sewer, puncture our organs and then embalm preventing deterioration for a time, AND then we seal it in a coffin, then a concrete vault

@EMC2 Did you read @Psycheworks link under #Nodosaur or #Dinosaur of a 110 million year old mummy going on exhibition?

That may not be eternity but it's a long time!

@atheist This is the point , nothing is permanent and our life is a prime example. The way in which it exchanges energy is important.

There is still a hole in your life where that person used to be. Technically it's a transition from living to dead, but coping with the hole left in your life, the missing puzzle piece, is coping with grief. Grief is an emotion, not a technicality.


I have learned to grieve the loss of others and make every attempt to live fully in my moments in this world and death rarely comes to mind.

Wow, you said that much more succinctly than I did! LOL


I don't worry about coping. All things die. It comes naturally. Entropy.

Additionally, you start dying moments after birth. Fact. Why worry when you've been doing it all your life.

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