Ok, be sensitive because I am talking about someone I love very much. My mother is dying and I am taking it very hard indeed. I understand that as an atheist death of a loved one is exceptionally hard. There is no comfort in an afterlife, no belief the person will be in a “better place” and no notion I will be with them ever again. How have other atheists managed the death of someone they loved so much?
However you need to.
. I see life a bit different than many. I've experienced others dying for various reasons. To me, they're just gone. I'm glad ( usually) to have had them in my life, but that ended.
I don't miss them.
Not much help I know.
if anything it made me more aware of being alive, to enjoy the time I have.
I'm sorry you're going through this. But, it's a natural occurance. Many of us have to see our parents die.
And: while I don't believe in Magic Beings in the sky, we really don't know what's on the other side of death. I've been told that the greatest comfort for us non-believers is to have a physics professor speak at the funeral.
Well a lot of people donate their bodies to medical science either indefinitely or a few weeks or years depending on what the donor has offered(some do like 3 weeks and then are buried or cremated for funeral/family. Some go through many different experiments to extend their life. It's given a lot of people a reassurance before they pass.
It is something we will all eventually face. Living forever isn't how the world is set up or we'd never advance.
I asked this same question of atheists when my granny was dying and then when my mother was dying. They told me to listen to that speech about you will want a physicist to speak at your funeral. And they told me their energy will always be with me and that my brain was changed due to experiences with them. So the folds in my brain that they caused will remain with me so physically they will always be with me in that way. Those things made me feel better though losing my mother was not difficult for me. Losing my granny was hard though. :/
I've had some significant losses over the years, and it's painful. But I know that some day I will be right there... "nowhere" with them, and that brings a very weird sense of comfort.
But after my brother-in-law was killed last year, someone gave me a book that has given me some powerful tools to deal with grief... No god needed.
That book is called, It's Okay that You're not Okay!
I do believe death is a gradual thing as it takes time for the energy force to leave the body. It has been shown that the process takes time so it is important to be with the person several hours after the scientific death. Speak to the person as their consciousness leaves last after the heart stops and blood stops. Too often the body is whisked away and the living loved one does not have time to grieve and console the dying person.