Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Also The Right To Ice Cream

My wife, Kathy, and I were talking and wondering yesterday about how atheists grieve. We'd just seen "The Descendants," which, while a beautiful movie, was relentless about avoiding any reference to spirituality. It's hard to believe that none of Matt King's (George Clooney) 50 friends and relatives would've said, "God bless you" or "we're praying for you" in connection with his stricken wife. When he and and his daughters poured Elizabeth's ashes overboard, he said, "I guess that's it." That's a scary thought, and the one that prompted our conversation.

The characters weren't so much explicit atheists as Stepford secularists to whom the concept of God had never occurred or been mentioned. At the end of the movie they're huddled on a sofa under a blanket, self-medicating with ice cream and a documentary. I'd like to send them the post I just read about Rebecca Hensler, whose infant son died in 2009, and her dedication to helping her fellow nonbelievers get through tragedy. Her Facebook page, according to Huffington Post, is called "Grief Beyond Belief":

A 43-year-old school counselor, Hensler tries to post something every day -- a link, a picture, a question, a thought. Recent topics include a discussion of travel as a balm for pain, a look at how agnostics grieve, and a link to a "Bill of Rights for the Grieving." Right No. 7: "You have the right not to be grateful, reasonable, inspired or inspiring."

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