How do you feel about death? Are you weird like me?

My introduction to death and grief came at a very young age — my mother was in a car accident when I was five years old. It was tragic and sudden — she was pronounced dead at the scene.

At that age, I didn’t understand death or that it was final, and following my mother’s death, I remember feeling a lot of confusion. I was sure she was alive, just away somewhere, but she never came home. Eventually, I realized she was gone.

My family isn’t very religious but most of my relatives do identify as Christians, and even at a young age, I was aware of my family’s belief in an afterlife. I found it comforting that one day I would meet my mother. I liked to think she was still in my life watching over me. She knew what I thought and felt. 

Now I’m an atheist, and I know death is final. That’s it. It’s important to really make the most of life because there’s nothing after it. So with that in mind, I no longer hope to see my mom again one day, but I do spend time admiring what she did in life. She was an accomplished artist and art teacher and I think it’s awesome to have her paintings all over our house. 

So maybe it was that early experience with death and grief — maybe it’s not — but people have told me that I’m weird about death. 

I don’t like funerals. I don’t need to look at a dead body and I don’t need closure. 

I’m cold and I don’t like to be touchy-feely. Sometimes it takes me a long time to show emotion. Sometimes I don’t react at all.  

And as you can imagine, I cringe when I hear, “they’re in a better place” or “we’ll see each other again one day”, but I’m obviously not going to say anything about it. 

I’d just like to say that we all approach death and grief differently, and for me, being an atheist plays a part.

How about you? How do you feel about death? Are you weird like me?

Speaking Events Update

I’m so excited to be speaking to new groups — a couple will even be in person!


August 15th — Zoom meeting with Washington (DC) Area Secular Humanists

September 26th — Zoom meeting with the Humanist Association of San Diego

October 9th — Western Lake Erie Humanist Alliance (in-person, Ohio)

November 14th — Eastern Shore Humanists (in-person, Delaware)


I will post more info when times and locations are figured out. Looking forward to meeting you all!

An Off Week But Recovery Prevails

This has been an off week.

In recovering from schizoaffective disorder, I am always learning. As normal as I may seem most days, sometimes something will happen that will reveal how deep my issues run — another reminder of my broken brain. But I have to keep moving forward. Recovery is not about a cure — it’s about learning to live with your illness. 

This week I learned that to truly feel stability, you have to learn to be flexible. If you can’t adapt to changes in life, you will always be thrown off course. I’m sure that goes for everybody — mentally ill or not. 

This week fear and distractions won but I will start fresh next week. This is reality and I am regaining my focus. 

A Message for the Atheist in the Closet

1. Know you are not alone — not even a little bit. 

If you are in the States, here are American Atheists local groups and American Humanist Association local groups.

2. Whatever brought you to this decision, it was for a good reason. You did your research. You responded to questions lingering in your mind and came to a solid conclusion.

3. There’s nothing wrong with you (a misconception I grew up with).

4. Not everyone has to know, but you shouldn’t have to hide either. Share as much or as little as you want.

5. You don’t have to prove anything — that falls squarely on the shoulders of believers.

6. Be prepared to face backlash — which may or may not come. (You might be surprised.) 

7. There are resources — books, blogs, groups, podcasts, etc. If you found Freethought Blogs you’re on the right track.

My publisher, Freethought House, has a nice collection of secular books. I suggest Atheist Voices of Minnesota. This isn’t my book and I’m not from Minnesota, but I really enjoyed this anthology of personal stories. If you want something relatable, this is it.

8. Reach out for support if you need it.

Check out this organization — Recovering from Religion

9. Stay safe.


Please add advice and resources to the comments!

My Family: Klansmen vs. Catholics

So, I’ve been writing a lot about my relatives that were in the KKK lately, but there is so much more to my family’s story. These relatives were in my mom’s family, but what about my dad’s?

My mom, being the badass that she was, fell in love with a Catholic boy — my dad! 

If you’re not already aware, Klansmen hate Catholics for one silly argument — should god be able to talk directly to me or only through the pope? If you ask me, something that ridiculous is a pretty good endorsement for atheism. 

There’s a little more. Klansmen asked if you’re loyal to the pope, how can be loyal to America? 

My mom and dad dated through high school and college and got married in their early twenties. 

As an adult, my dad was not a practicing Catholic. In fact, he’s not very religious at all. But still, there was always tension. There were fights. There were times that people weren’t speaking to each other. 

My dad’s a good guy — a hard-working single parent — and he didn’t deserve the treatment he received.

People have died. People have moved on, and now our lives are relatively quiet.

It’s just so amazing what makes a family. It’s like we’re all a bit of everything. 

My dad’s family is made up of Catholics, immigrants, railroad workers, and a fire chief. 

And my mom’s family wasn’t just Klansmen. They were farmers and suffragists. 

Both of my grandpas served in WWII.

I just find this all so interesting and I’m looking forward to writing more. I can’t wait to break out the poetry!

Secular Parents vs. Religious Parents

Is it harder to be a secular parent than a religious one?

When you were little and asked where babies came from, what did your family tell you?

Storks? Angels?

I got a ridiculous story about a garden.

Surprisingly my daughter hasn’t asked that question yet. She turned five in April. When it comes up, I plan on giving her a simple and straightforward explanation of sex. I don’t think she’s too young for that and hopefully, it’s a conversation we can continue throughout her childhood.

As a secular parent, I feel I am tasked with telling my daughter the truth. I think it would be easier to be a religious parent always having these ready-made explanations.

Sex, babies, death, the afterlife, gender roles, marriage — you name it, religion has an answer for it.

I always want to give my daughter real answers and I want to encourage her curiosity. If I don’t know an answer, I want to help her find it. I know that will come up. I don’t consider myself worldly or well-read so I think it would be just fine to learn alongside her.

So what do you think? Is it harder to tell your kids the truth? Is it easier to rely on a religion that has all the answers?

Well, one thing I can tell you is that telling my daughter the truth sits a lot easier on my conscience. 


So I thought this meme was really fucking funny and it’s actually why I wrote this post. Inspiration comes from everywhere!

I’m so sorry — I don’t know the original artist to give credit to. I see a little watermark but can’t really make it out. If you know the artist, please let me know and I’ll post it.

Letting go: death is final and I may never get the answers I seek.

I want to let you all in. Having a schizophrenic disorder can be terrifying and confusing and I want to reveal what it’s really like. You might say it’s just a diagnosis, but it’s part of my story and often the reason I do the things I do. As disturbing as the symptoms are, when they cease with medication you sometimes feel a sense of loss.

I recently wrote about my family’s involvement with the Ku Klux Klan. I write what I know and how I feel about it. Honestly, I want answers but everyone’s dead. 

What does this have to do with my schizoaffective disorder diagnosis?

Prior to treatment, I thought I could communicate with the dead. I saw apparitions and heard voices. Sometimes I had visits with dead relatives. I saw my mom who died when I was five years old. I was terrified day in and day out, but in a sick way, I thought my “abilities” made me special. 

Hence the feeling of loss when medication takes away the thing that makes you special. Also, I have no memory of my mom so thinking I had a way to communicate with her was somewhat comforting.

With medication came a clear head and then atheism. In becoming an atheist I had to conclude that death is final. I never communicated with the dead. It was all symptoms of my mental illness. Thankfully, my feeling of relief has always been more powerful than my feeling of loss.

I was just thinking about this tonight because my grandparents who were in the Klan were my mom’s parents. What happened between my grandparents and me? My mom is an important link in this story and I’ll never know how she felt about it.

It’s now easy for me to say there is nothing after death, but I have to admit it’s hard knowing I may never get the answers that I seek.

My recovery is thanks to science.

I’m going to expand on something I tweeted. (Yes, I’ve been spending a lot of time on Twitter.)

Do you know what’s amazing? I don’t even remember the last time I had a psychotic symptom.

As many of you know, at 21 I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. My years as a teen and young adult were plagued with terrifying hallucinations and crippling mood swings. Rock bottom hit hard and my parents got me help.

When I received my diagnosis I began taking psych meds and the effects were dramatic. I went from barely functioning to going to school. Working. Dating. Things weren’t perfect but I was going in the right direction.

Now here I am — 38. A wife. A mom. Working a job I love and writing poetry and books. Normal life has completely taken over. It was just a random thought today — I don’t remember my last psychotic symptom. 

Schizoaffective disorder is serious — but I’m thriving. 

But let’s give credit where credit is due. My recovery isn’t a miracle. My life isn’t blessed. All of this is thanks to science.

My medications work and I am incredibly grateful. 

Do you believe the differences between generations?

A tweet I saw today inspired this post.

My husband is a little older than me and it’s just enough to put us in different generations. He’s in Gen X and I’m a Millennial. 

My husband is sort of a bleeding heart. He’s passionate about causes and politics and is skeptical of authority and people in power. He’s always seeking balance and keeps his work and home life separate. He’s a little rebellious and believes in giving our daughter freedom.

I love all of that about him. 

I’m definitely more high-strung. I’ve always been ambitious and I do a lot of work at home. I have a long list of side hustles. I’m all about multi-tasking and I’m the queen of the helicopter parents.

I think we fit the stereotypes pretty well even though there are really only five years between us.

Enter Gen Z

Almost two years ago I took a poetry class at a local university. It was in-person and just before the pandemic. 

I was nervous. Times have changed since I first went to college and I was by far the oldest person in the class. Most of my classmates were just barely young adults. 

As the semester went on, I became more and more impressed with these young people. They were so considerate and respectful. This was probably most visible to me when it came to pronouns. When I was younger, a person’s pronoun preference wasn’t really considered, but these students not only introduced themselves with their pronouns, they would ask you for your pronouns if they were unsure instead of assuming. Could you imagine the heartache this could have saved people if students did this when I was younger? It was amazing. 

I was so impressed with their writing as well. These students were open, thoughtful, and articulate. When they shared their poetry, they were wise beyond their years.

I was extremely apprehensive about sharing a poem I wrote about being an atheist, but apparently, it was only a big deal to me. Everyone was supportive and many came up to me after class to compliment my poem. Is Gen Z more secular? I really don’t think that would have gone so well when I was younger. 

Obviously, you can’t judge a whole generation by just one college class, but the tiny glimpse I got of Gen Z was incredible. Everything I was impressed with came so naturally to them. These were obviously things they were used to and expected.


Maybe these generation stereotypes aren’t always true, but you have to admit the time period you grow up in is going to affect your values.

The good news is I have hope for the future.


What generation are you in? Do you fit the stereotypes? How about the rest of your family/friends?