Oh, Lil K…you would think he’d be used to this sort of thing by now. Cat God is really not a very comforting figure.

Death, the end of the road, the final hour, that bit before the credits roll, it’s the one thing we all have in common. All living things, at some point, expire. It’s quite an interesting thing if you try to be objective about it. Unfortunately, it’s not very easy to be objective about the cessation of your very existence.

We all cope with the loss of loved ones in different ways, often depending on our ideas about what lies beyond life. For believers in an afterlife, it’s not such a bad thing to die. After all, death is just the beginning of another journey. Whether that’s to heaven, hell, your next bodily incarnation, or maybe close to the bosom of the flying spaghetti monster and his noodly appendages, death is merely an exit from one type of existence to another. It’s kind of a nice thought, that we continue on somehow, that the very essence of who we are is preserved and manages to exist in an altered state. For believers in an afterlife, death is still a mournful affair, but there is hope there, a silver lining that offers a little light. Death isn’t the very end.

For atheists, it’s a bit of a different story. The loss of life is the end. There is no continue, you do not get an extra life to carry on playing the game in any form. When you say goodbye to someone you love, you really say goodbye forever. It’s a difficult thing to deal with for everyone, but for atheists, it has a great deal more weight. When you lose someone, you will never see them again. All you have left are memories.

There’s something sad in that, but also something appreciative.

There are people who kind of sit on the fence as well, who refuse to believe that they know exactly everything there is to know about life and death, people like myself. I sort of wish I had the convictions I see in others, the absolute certainty of belief in the supernatural or the ironclad faith that there is nothing to be faithful about. Personally, I’m not sure, I never have been and I probably never will be. I may not be the smartest or the stupidest person on the planet, but I can tell you this: none of us really know much of anything at all. The only certainty is that there is very little certainty in the universe. Is it possible that there’s some kind of afterlife? Sure. Is it likely? Probably not. Should we all get hot and bothered about it? Definitely not. Should we let our beliefs on the subject negatively impact the one certain we have in this world: the fact that we all live and have some time to experience what life is like? Definitely not. Why waste precious time fighting one another?

There are some atheists out there that like to get angry at religious folk for caring about their beliefs in the afterlife, but if you look at it from a missionary sort of worldview, it makes a kind of sense. There’s caring there, genuine compassion. Many believers want everyone to believe as they do because they have complete faith that without the same spiritual worldview, others will either suffer or, at the very least, not get into heaven or some kind of better existence. And then there are religious folk that get mad at atheists for caring about THEIR beliefs about the afterlife, but those atheists are simply concerned about your current existence. They don’t want to see you waste the life you’ve been given.

While actively proselytizing either position is a little misguided and silly, it rarely seems to be hurtful or genuinely mean.

It’s funny how that turns into anger and resentment, when it’s really a silly kind of compassion for one another.

Life is difficult, death is difficult, but we all go through both. It would be nice if instead of drawing lines between each other, people could instead grasp this one truth and use it as a place for finding common ground. We may have different beliefs about what happens on the other side, but we will all experience it at some time and find out for ourselves.

If it turns out that there is, indeed, some kind of afterlife, I guess we could all fight about it then.

After all, we’ll have all the time in the world.

*On a personal (side) note, my kitty Rosie died recently. I just wanted to say that she was an awesome cat and an awesome friend, however silly that may sound. It’s amazing how a little creature can make you smile and feel good, even if it’s not intentional.

Regardless of your beliefs, please treasure your loved ones here and now, be they animal or human. You won’t regret it.*