I am writing a collection of letters to my daughter of things I hope she’ll learn from a secular childhood. I’m really enjoying this project. Here’s one I wrote about death:
I feel like death is a complicated subject when it shouldn’t be. It’s our feelings surrounding death that make things complicated.
I am scared of death, which is natural, but I’m not worried about where I’m going in the afterlife. I’m scared because there’s so much I want to do in life; will I get to do all of those things? Will I have spent enough time with my loved ones?
I recognize my worries are pretty pointless because when you’re dead you’re not aware of your goals and wants anyway. Death is only sad to those still living.
The belief in souls, heaven, and hell really makes the idea of death murky. I have a simpler explanation. Humans are a part of nature — another speck in the universe — and death is just a part of our life cycle. We return to the earth which we’ve always been a part of.
It might be a nice thought to think you’ll live on in people’s memories, but the people with those memories eventually die, too. I’ve heard stories of my ancestors but they seem to fade with every passing generation. It’s definitely not the same as knowing them.
Instead of worrying about death, it’s better to concentrate on enjoying yourself now. Your time could be up at any time, so live your life to the fullest.
My beautiful daughter — I am really enjoying the time I am spending with you right now, and that’s all that really matters.
What do you want to tell your kids about death?