Interesting story in the Washington Post: "Atheist parents comfort children about death without talk of God or heaven."
As so many millions of Americans turn to clergy and prayers to help their children sort out the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, parents like Drizin do not. They don’t agonize over interpreting God’s will or message in the event. They don’t seek to explain what kind of God allows suffering, and they don’t fudge it when children ask what happens to people who die, be they Grandma or the young victims of Newtown.
It's kind of weird, of course, that non-religious explanations of death and suffering seem out-of-the-ordinary.
In many countries this wouldn't be the case. But in this super-religious country, where every presidential address seems to end with "God bless the United States of America," behaving naturalistically isn't the norm.
I think we'd be much better off without all the talk of "she's in a better place," "he's with the angels now," "God took them for a purpose," and such. To me, it demeans life to deny death.
Maybe this is one reason why common sense gun control, like banning military style assault weapons, is so difficult to do in the United States.
Most people here don't believe that when you die, you're really dead. You've just gone to heaven earlier than expected. This cheapens life. It makes it easier to ignore efforts to reduce the number of needless deaths.
If everything is in God's hand, and dying is merely a gateway to a better life, death and suffering aren't such a big deal. Atheist parents are pleasingly honest, respecting truth rather than blind belief.
Atheist parents describe talking about death with their children in a straightforward way, without anxiety.
“We are a science-based family. When we don’t know the answer, we say, ‘We don’t know.’ We don’t say ‘Jesus did it,’” said Jamila Bey, a 36-year-old D.C. radio host who attended Catholic churches and schools through college. Her son is 4.
...I had to explain, ‘Honey, life is very long, but sometimes bad things happen. Not often and they hurt.’
“I said, ‘When people die, it’s just like before they were ever born. They’re not scared, they’re not hungry, they’re not cold. But the people left behind miss them.’ I didn’t fill him with ideas of celestial kingdoms where you get wings and [expletive].”