I live in a christian country surrounded, in the majority, by friends who have great faith, a faith which has carried them through on the darkest of days. I live with a man who enjoys his catholic religion, and who cannot imagine a life without it, who possibly believes that deep down I actually believe in God, and that some day in the future my faith will return. My children are mixed on this front with varying degrees of faith. I have never denied them the religion they were baptised into, but I do not actively live it, so they wonder and on occasions they ask me, what do I believe.
I believe in a life lived now, not tomorrow, next week or in a next life. I live the best day I can today, and enjoy every day, for who knows what tomorrow may bring. I do not believe in sin or any God. I believe in now.
But… what happens when a loved one dies?
A close friend recently said she had to believe in an after life, as the thought that she would never see her loved one again was just too awful to imagine. I saw her pain and I hoped in my heart she was right. I wanted her to meet him again, or at least to live this life believing and hoping she would.
I have sometimes questioned my own belief, wondering as I speak to my dad, who died nearly thirty years ago, why am I speaking to him when I don’t believe in an after life. Why do I call on him for help, advice or comfort when I believe he has died?
Yesterday I think I got my answer.
I was golfing (yes I love to golf). It was the most beautiful day, with a clear blue sky, and the views were stunning. It was one of those afternoons I felt lucky to be alive. As I enjoyed my round, with my OH and friends, I had by my side my usual golfing companion, someone no one else sees or speaks to. No one hears him laughing at my mistakes, nor do they know I sometimes ask him for advice, (against all the rules).
Who is this secret companion of mine? It is young Daniel.
Danny, for those who are new to this blog, was my friends young boy, who lost a hard fought battle with Leukemia almost nineteen months ago. Christmas came just a month after he died, and his mother gave me a ‘gift’ from Daniel. It was a voucher for a sports shop. After much consideration I bought a golf club. An expensive one, now known as ‘Danny’s club’. Each time I use it, I feel as if Daniel is by my side, enjoying the day out and the competition.
Yesterday was no different, as he and I strolled the course. When Danny’s club hit the ball well, I’d smile and congratulate him, when it didn’t I’d imagine his laughter at my mistake. It was lovely to walk for hours imagining him happy and free. At times I wondered at our conversation. Was I speaking to myself, or did I really feel him close?
Today I have continued to ponder.
I do believe Daniel is gone, but I also believe we carry our loved ones with us always. My dad is still very much a part of me, holding a space in my heart no one else will ever fill. He is by my side all day every day, and the love I felt for him, and he for me, surrounds me even after all these years. The same is true for Daniel. No I was not his mother, or aunt, nor were we best friends, but we shared a part of life together and he took a place in my heart, a place he will always be.
I do not feel I must die in order to meet them again. Those I have loved and lost continue to be a part of my life, every minute of every day. I will always miss seeing them, but for as long as I live, they continue to live.
I appreciate this is not for everyone. I do not care what anyone else believes, for it is up to each individual to find their own way. I am not against religion and if you offered during times of trouble to ‘pray for me’ I’d be touched and grateful, just do not try to convert me, for I am more than happy with this simple life of mine.
To each their own.
As I write this today I think of Aoibheann (8), Daniel (13) and young Ben (6) as well as my own dad, who continue to live in the hearts and minds of those who loved them.
45 thoughts on “I don’t believe in God, so what do I believe?”
Yup, this sums up exactly what I believe Tric.
I tell my kids that I believe people like my grandparents leave their love in our hearts when they die and that’s why we’ve always got a part of them with us. They know I don’t believe in a god or heaven but I think it’s a nice way for them to remember those we love don’t disappear without a trace. They leave their trace in our hearts.
Yes it is that trace in our hearts which becomes so important as the years pass by, although as I say, my friends who have faith also get great comfort from their beliefs.
It’s been a little strange trying to allow my children chose for themselves whether to believe or not, but I think they are finding their own way.
I love your words “trace in our hearts!”
This is just lovely. I’m so glad you get such peace and contentment from your beliefs (if I can even call it “beliefs” – you know what I mean). I often think that heaven is a construct we humans invented because it’s too hard to believe that this is all there is. But I’m willing to bet that when someone I love dies, I may change that view, albeit temporarily.
Thank you. I suppose these are my ‘beliefs’. Yes I think death certainly challenges our view. I remember my husband asking someone who had been very religious, after they had lost a very dear loved one, if their faith was tested, he replied “quite the opposite. It’s stronger than ever”. Even my husband was taken aback, although both of us were happy he was getting comfort from somewhere.
It has taken a long while for me to stop wondering and questioning, but now that I have I find life very simple.
Thanks again I’m always fascinated to know what others believe.
My lived ones are always with me, too. I talk to my brother’s and I tell them when I need help getting through something and they do help me.
Now that is the part that I don’t get Corina. I believe my dad is gone, and Dan and others, yet on occasions I admit I do credit them with helping me, which doesn’t really make sense. But do I care that it doesn’t? No.
I hope your brothers are minding you well at the moment.
Beautiful post Tric, I too believe that our loved ones live on with us and through us, thoughts. memories and heart
Thanks Naomi. It’s good to feel them close, however we believe that to be.
couldn’t have said it any better myself, tric
I would love to think there was some sort of after life where I could be with Anita again but even in the most painful moments after her death I can not bring myself to believe in a God or a heaven.
I agree with ‘awfully chipper’ that the idea of a heaven was invented to ease the pain of bereavement by offering hope to the bereaved of an eventual re-union with their deceased loved ones
I do not have the solace offered by such a belief but I carry the memories of our time together in my heart and while I do then she is not truly dead to me – I suppose one could say that she has an ‘after-life’ within my body and thoughts ?
I agree duncan, it is an ‘after-life’ within us, and for as long as we live we have them close, after that what does it matter.
Your shared memories of Anita (the bit’s I have read) also bring her to life for me, as they may one day do for the newest member of your clan some day.
Ripples in the water as I like to think of it, and not as lonely or dismal as those who have a heaven might think.
This post is perfection Tric. I wholeheartedly agree and understand. So beautifully put, wish I could find words like that.
Thank you Deb. I’m glad you ‘got’ it.
i understand and feel exactly the same way –
Thanks beth, and thinking of one of your loses too. x
I respect your opinion but something to think about. If there is no God, who defines good and evil? Does each person decide for themselves? If we think of something as evil, would it really be evil in the eyes of the person committing it? If
I do believe I decide for myself what is good and what is evil. If I had ten commandments I would live by only one, ‘do to someone else as you would want them to do to you’.
For me it is as simple as that, although just like yourself I totally respect your opinion or beliefs.
I respect your opinion but I have a question. If there is no God and absolute truth, who decides what is good and evil? Each person? What if a person does something I consider evil, like the sex trade, is it really evil if the person doing the wrong thinks its okay? Just asking.
Sorry I missed the last part of your comment.
I don’t think I can speak for others. If they believe the sex trade is right that does not make it right. i will believe it to be wrong. I do not have to know a God to believe that. There are people who do bad things, because they are bad people for what ever reason. Regardless of whether they think they are doing right or wrong, what they do is wrong, that is all that matters for me, not the thinking behind it.
Tric, I encourage you to think more about it. How can we judge evil behavior if we don’t have a standard beyond our own thoughts?
I don’t judge anyone elses behaviour. I live my life, and bend and sway with what ever life throws at me. I treat others as I would like to be treated. I see that as a very simple way to live and if more could do likewise we would live in a better world.
I have met evil, and he went to mass regularly. It didn’t seem to help him see evil.
I have no issue with religion or anyone who believes in God, it’s just not for me.
Thanks though I do think it is good to be thinking, but honestly I have thought and I am happy.
This is beautiful Tric. I do believe. But I also believe I have no right to ever try to force my beliefs on anyone. I appreciate others who are open to discussion and learning about other’s beliefs. It is a wonderful thing to be able to share these ‘things’ with one another. And be comfortable in doing so. I do believe in God, but I also share a lot of what you believe. My beliefs are a hodge podge of many things. And I’m okay with that too. 😉
Just like some of my closest friends colleen. On dannys birthday i went to mass with his mum, aunt and godmother. They got a great laugh out of imagining daniel laughing at me in mass at 9.30 on a weekday or any day. We respect our differences.
This is how friendship works. Respect. And laughter. Differences, and sharing them. 🙂
This made me smile. 🙂 Much truth here. Very much love to you always,
Thank you Laurie.
Tric, this was so beautiful!
Thank you Michele. It works for me anyway.
As always, Tric, your Daniel posts are among my favorites. I have found myself a bit amazed to realize that while I haven’t believed in God for many years, my belief in life and the afterlife have grown stronger and stronger over the years, as I’ve had experiences with those who have died and left us.
If there is a “God”, I believe that “he” is us, and is the love that binds us to each other, even after death.
Lovely job of writing, as usual!
Thank you. I can totally understand why you can believe in an afterlife but not a god, and would be very interested to hear why.
Hi, Tric. Well, I think the idea of one “omniscient” presence seems illogical to me. I surely don’t believe that there is a god out there who doles out the good and ill; why would children die if there really was such a being? I don’t believe in a vengeful or a jealous superbeing who watches every human life and gets involved in football matches!
But I believe in eternal and ongoing life, because I see my father in my sons. And because I have felt/seen/loved those who have left this life.
Does that make any sense?
I love that you respect others in their personal beliefs Tric and I hope you feel respected in yours by others. ❤
Thanks Diana I do. I have never been anti religious, it’s just that I have no belief, but I would never think ‘I am right and others are wrong’. As I say I know many who believe very strongly and on occasions we have had very interesting discussions on the topic.
This works for me, and I am happy. I can’t ask for much more in life.
Thank you, Tric, for sharing your thoughts. I also have no religious beliefs. When my brother died, I found myself in a strange place of “unknowing.” No one could prove to me that there is a god or afterlife or spirit world. Over the next few years, I became comfortable with the presence of mystery, of openness to possibility. It has, in fact, freed me to a great deal of wondering and acceptance. I love the idea of not having to have answers, or defend, or reconcile faith. I find myself at peace with believing anything is possible.
I think you expressed how I feel so perfectly. I too love the mystery of possibility, and there is tremendous freedom in not questioning, just living each day.
Thanks so much. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this.
Interesting post…you touch on many things that are near and dear to everyone especially the death of a loved one. One question that jumped out at me from the beginning was the fact that you said you don’t believe in God…Why? just curious as to your thoughts as to why you don’t.
I love this question. It is so obvious but rarely actually asked.
There was no big moment, it was something that evolved. I found creation and religion of all sorts difficult to believe from a very young age. Then I watched my father (an incredibly kind, loving man) die a horrible death of MND in his early fifties and I further wondered why.
As the years have moved on I have found that the only thing that makes sense is today. I cannot credit a god with all that is good, and not hold him accountable for what is bad. I cannot believe one religion is more correct than another, and if I am truthful do not believe any of them.
When young daniel became sick I shook my head, but personally I know no god gave danny cancer. When he was born he had a chromosome in his body called ‘philadelphia chromosome’ which dictated he would most probably get leukemia. It was a fluke of nature, God or religion did not come into it. Nature dictated.
That is what I believe. We live now, today, and just like the plants in the garden our season ends, some last a long time, others lives are cut short.
Thanks for your question. It made me think.
I always find it interesting as to why we believe what we believe, and it comes back to one thing …we instinctively have the need to refer to a higher being…or have a need to worship something or someone. Yet many things jade us toward believing that can be or must be a god that made everything and yet we live as such a disaster.So I can see how you could feel that belief in God may not be desirable for you. Regardless of whether we believe in God or a god or multiple gods one thing is inescapable. How we choose to live our lives and that we are accountable for the things we do and how we treat others.
Everyone has a right to their own beliefs, and if your’s give you comfort and strength, then they are right for you. I agree, no one should ever try to force their beliefs on another. Hugs.
Thank you. It’s been a long time coming, but I am happy with what I believe at last.
I believe in love.
(Golf, tric? – remember… thou shall not worship false Gods)
I’d be happy to keep a few hours aside every day to bear witness to that God. 🙂
It is a wonderful gift to be able to carry the memories, and even sense of our loved ones’ presence with us, long after their gone.
Yes. I know for a while immediately after we lose a loved one it can be hard to find them or feel them, but I think in time we build our new life with them in our heart instead of by our side.