There Is No Ship of Death

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There Is No Ship of Death

Post by costrel on Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:25 pm

With the recent passing of AgnosticSpirit, I have been wondering about the dearth of sentiment those of us who do not believe in some kind of a sentient afterlife (rebirth, reincarnation, resurrection, a psychic soul, etc.) can offer in times of grief. For us, the journey is truly over -- there is no coming back, there is no "continuation of the journey on the other side," there is no consolation or continuance besides memory, recollection, and remembrance. (In the language of Victorian grief, recollection is willfully, actively thinking about the departed, while remembrance is unwillful and passive thoughts of the departed that surge up uninvited -- in other words, recollection, in the words of Pat Jalland, is "so pleasant yet so mournful," while remembrance is a great, agonizing, and unconsolable grief.)

Even the great poems of death, including D. H. Lawrence's spectacular "The Ship of Death," are structured around the assumption that, uncertain and unknown though it may be, there is some passage to a great beyond that all must take after they shuffle off this mortal coil. The only poem that I can think of at the moment that focuses on life's brutal finality with no hint of something after death is Robinson Jeffer's little poem "Cremation," in which he writes of his wife's death as if she were speaking to him before she died. Perhaps there are other texts out there that I am unaware of, or perhaps atheists need to create some kind of living literature concerning the finality of death that speaks of their experiences.
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Re: There Is No Ship of Death

Post by sacrificialgoddess on Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:17 am

I hadn't heard AS had died. Sad

Illness?

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Re: There Is No Ship of Death

Post by gillyflower on Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:26 am

I am not an atheist but I am unconvinced that anything comes after death. When I console myself about people who have died, I focus on life. Who can ask for more than living a full, rich life? My favorite poem that speaks to me about death is:

Look to this day
for it is life
the very life of life.

In its brief course lie all
the realities and truths of existence
the joy of growth
the splendor of action
the glory of power.

For yesterday is but a memory
And tomorrow is only a vision.
But today well lived
makes every yesterday a memory
of happiness
and every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day.


It reminds me that if they lived well, that's all a person can ask for and I celebrate them for getting it. Those who lived small mean lives, they never got it.

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Re: There Is No Ship of Death

Post by John T Mainer on Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:15 pm

The Hamaval promises us only:

Cattle die, kinsmen die
You too will die
One thing alone will not die
The fame of a good man's deeds

From the beginning, there was no promise of an afterlife. Hel was the burial mound, immortality was found in your descendants and works. The cult of Odin and that of Freya promises that the very best may be gathered by the gods, but no one knows as what. For most of us, only the grave awaits.

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Re: There Is No Ship of Death

Post by Gorm_Sionnach on Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:51 pm

This is a, well concern may be the wrong word, so topic of interest to we in the "death business". As societies begin to shift away from the more traditional religions, and as those who have no religious affiliation or belief (especially in an afterlife), it has become incumbent upon us to craft funeral/memorial services which lack what is referred to as a "persistence of personality".

Personally, I find myself echoing the sentiments of John and Gilly. I feel that in the case of those who may not be comforted by what they consider fairy tales, that the focus on the life and legacy of those individuals can be as great a source of comfort as a belief in some other state of continued existence is for those who believe in them.

Celebrate the life lived, the lives changed, and the memories made.

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Re: There Is No Ship of Death

Post by Prudence6 on Thu May 30, 2013 9:57 pm

I agree with Gilly, John and Gorm. I find solace in celebrating a passed loved one's life.

And, to tell you the truth, since energy and matter are different manifestations of the same immutable stuff, it seems to me that the journey never ends, it just changes form.

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