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Thursday, October 9, 2008

A good friend of mine from high school passed away from Leukemia last night. He was 24.
He makes the 5th person that I was personally acquainted with that has died this year. The most significant death(to me, obviously) was the death of my long time best friend and future bridesmaid, Joanne. She was killed on New Years Eve driving to work at the animal shelter a few towns over.

It's times like this, when everything seems to run together, and I can't quite find the point of all this existing(even self-made points seem refuted by the fragility of life) that I wish I were a theist. At least then I would have comforting answers to my very difficult, unsettling questions.

Have a nice day, everyone.


  1. Maragon, I'm really sorry to hear about all of your losses. I hope you and the others affected by them find the support you need in each other.

    If you need anything, I know I'm here. I may not have answers, but I have a kind heart.

  2. Same here...if you ever want to talk we're here. If you need private communication, I'm sure I can help arrange it so's you can get my email if you don't want what you say to be broadcast over the net.

  3. Yes I am sorry for your losses. Not much I can do or offer that others haven't already offered.

  4. Maragon -

    Please accept my heartfelt sympathy to you, and the family of your friend.

    - laof

  5. A situation like this is perhaps one where those of us without a religion have to acknowledge that perhaps our way of thinking can't provide an easy source of comfort, because being rational people we understand that suffering a terminal illness does not have a good side, save the cesation of suffering, if applicable.

    We have to muddle through as best we can and work through the grief until we get to an acceptance of it and this can be hard, hard, hard.

    Don't be afraid to ask your friends for help. If you need to rant or swear or cry or despair, they'll be happy to be there for you. I'm sure I speak for us all when I say we're here too.

  6. Sorry to hear about those losses, Maragon.

    I can relate to the theism comment, as well. Although I don't intend to be tooting the "intellectual" horn, I think it's been demonstrated that people that rely heavily upon rationality trend towards depression more than those who rely on faith.

    In any case, I've often found that helping others when you feel like you're most in need of support yourself can be helpful - for both.

    And um, random silliness tends to help too.

    (Work-safe, though the comments and links under it are less so)

  7. Bloody hell, 5 people in one year, and yet I haven't lost anyone close in the entire 46 years of my life.

    Where's the logic?

    Well, you made me sit and blink futilely at the computer screen Maragon, thinking you're someone I only know over the net, far away, and yet, knowing you're hurt and confused spans the distance. I don't know if there is anything I (we) can do to help apart from being available. You can get me thru my profile. because of crazy timezones I might even be awake when all your world is sleeping. If you need a late night ear to say "ah, shit!" into, give me a buzz.


  8. Maragon, I'm very sorry about your loss. I certainly can't make sense of things at all myself, although I have tried my entire life. As Eric Idol said in Monty Python's The Life of Brian.."Life's a piece of shit, when you look at it.."

    My thoughts and sympathies

  9. Thank you. You're all very kind.

    I think that if there is a point to life, it's the people you share it with and the connections, however distant or brief they may be, that you share.

  10. My deepest sympathies, Maragon.

    The 'comfort' of theism is entirely false. They would have you believe that your friends' untimely deaths were part of some ineffable plan instead of the awful, random chance events that they are.

  11. This is Maragon's call, but if it were me, I wouldn't want someone turning the announcement of the death of a close friend, into yet another debate about theism.

    However, that's my opinion. And I appreciate the opportunity 'you guys' give me to express it.

    Maragon - I can't offer a lot of comfort as we don't know each other and don't have ways to contact each other, but I do (again) offer my sympathies. I've been in your situation many times and I hope that you can get the words of comfort you need to get you through it.

    Sorry for the long post.

  12. I feel with you, maragon. It's always awful to lose somebody that is close to you, especially to cancer. I'm not good in comforting others in occasions like this, but Stew is right: There are a lot Europeans here, if you need somebody to talk to in the middle of the night.

  13. Crap. An old dear friend of mine died yesterday from breast cancer at the age of 52. I get on the Internet today looking for some distraction and I come across this.

    Maragon, first accept my sincere condolences for your losses. I know the pain and sorrow that you’re going thru because I’m going thru them myself right now. It’s hard enough to lose one, I can’t image losing 5 in one year.

    If there’s anything to gain from moments like these it is to learn to appreciate those that are still around you even more.

    Be safe, take care.

  14. Maragon,
    You have my sympathy.
    I went through this at your age and my best friend drowned at 18.

    Losing a best friend results in a huge void in our psyche. It is confusing and we all have a need to replace the friend, but we think it impossible in our grief.

    When my father died it was like burning down a library- such a waste it seemed. Two years later I still find my self reaching for the phone to call him up and see what his take is on some subject.

    There are no pretenses with close friends and relatives so they are hard to replace. Yet I do value and remember the time and intimacies that I shared, as we must, to cultivate those close friends.

    I like to remember what I learned from those people and how they live on through me. Their ideas do not pass on with them. Many ideas survive through us that loved them.

  15. Maragon,

    I would like to offer you my sympathies also.


  16. How very shitty. I've lost a lot of close relatives and not a few friends. My Mom kicked when I was 17, and both in-laws (great people) within 6 months of each other. Dad croaked a few years back as well. It's unfair and undeserved and painful but the pain subsides after a while. THe way I look at it is that we have all won the cosmic lottery in that a bunch of molecules decided to be us for a bit. PErsonally, I wallow in self pity for a short time, drink a few therapeutic martinis and such and eventually get on with it. You are allowed to feel crappy you know. Not much help, but there you go.

    My sincere condolences


  17. Maragon,

    Wiser folk than I have given some really sound advice here, don't be afraid to lean on the many shoulders that have been offered; mine included.

    Thinking of you.



  18. A hug to you Maragon, with my sympathies for your loss.


  19. My sincere condolences, Maragon. Take care.

  20. Reading your post reminded me of what King Solomon said in the Ecclesiastes. Perhaps there's some comfort in knowing that even one who was called "the wisest man who ever lived" struggled with these same issues. In fact, the entire book of Ecclesiastes is a reflection on the futility of human existence. If you were a Christian, I wouldn't hesitate to suggest you read it. You might find it well worth the read as an atheist, even. Many of the underlying principles are the same whether you believe in God or not.

    Naturally, I hesitate from just quoting scripture. I don't want to come across 'preachy' all of a sudden, but I think you'll find this interesting, at the very least.

    "Therefore, I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind... For what has man for all his labor and for the striving of his heart, with which he has toiled under the sun? For all his days are sorrowful and all his works burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity.

    "And look, the tears of the oppressed,
    But they have no comforter,
    On the side of their oppressor there is power,
    But they have no comforter.
    Therefore, I praised the dead who were already dead,
    more than the living who are still alive,
    Yet, better than both is he who has never existed,
    who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun."

    Consider the work of God,
    For who can make straight what He has made crooked?
    In the day of prosperity be joyful,
    In the day of adversity consider,
    surley God has appointed one as well as the other,
    So that man can find out nothing that will come after him.

    "'Vanity of vanities,' says the Preacher [Solomon] "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

    "What profit has man for all his labor,
    In which he toils under the sun?
    One generation passes away and another generation comes,
    But the earth abides forever...
    ...All things are full of labor,
    Man cannot express it,
    The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
    Nor the ear filled with hearing."

    "And I set my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly,
    folly. I percieved that this also is grasping for the wind. For in much wisdom is much grief, and He who increases knowledge increases sorrow."

  21. My deep, felt condolence to you too, Maragon. I cannot imagine how it must be to lose several dear people in such a short time. You are the one that goes on, carrying them in the meories you have, to speak of them and preserve their life - even if words are too weak a tool to do them full justice.

  22. Maragon, all of us at the Raytractors care about you. Let us know if you need or want anything, even just to talk. You mean a lot to us.

  23. I don't know if this will help, but I find that looking at things from the opposite perspective of the average theist helps me; the universe isn't exactly hostile to life, but it doesn't care about it, either and the battle for life is one that we will all lose eventully, so every breath that we take is another, albeit tiny, victory. Every friend whose life you touch is a triumph. Every thought that you think is a small light in the darkness.
    Your friends may be gone, but the very fact that you miss them so much shows that their lives were not in vain and they have acheived the only immortality that any of us can hope for - they left the world a little better for their presence than it would've been without them. Don't mourn the loss - celebrate the victory.

  24. I'm so sorry Maragon,

    I don't think there is anything I could say to make any of this any easier, but there are many people on here, including myself, that care about you and you can talk to us about anything you're feeling/thinking about. I can completely sympathize with wishing to be a theist considering all you are going through right now.
    If you ever want to talk, you can email me anytime and even though we live in the same country you can think of me as being in Europe because I usually stay up late so you can contact me even late at night and I'll probably be available.

  25. You guys are all so nice.

    Thank you for putting things back into perspective.

  26. Maragon, I am terribly sorry to hear this. If you need anyone to talk to, please let me know.

    I have seen many, many theists in my lifetime lose those that are close to them and they never seem comforted, it always seems to bring up more questions and issues than if they had been atheists. At least for the fundy people I've known. Others with more moderate beliefs seem to have handled things ok, I suppose.

    None of that really matters though, I'm just very, very sorry that you lost a friend and that your friend lost their life.

    ((((Hugs to you))))

  27. It's never easy to lose someone close to you. I'm so sorry for your lose. My most sincere condolences to you and your friends family.

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  29. Maragon: there's really nothing I can add which won't sound contrived. Just know my sympathies are with you.

    Perhaps this will help, from the Sluggite Koan. It affected me when I read it, but the might be because I knew the background...

    "He was telling me, as clearly as he could."

    "He wasn't a sage. He didn't talk that language."

    "He was a cartoonist..."

    "He spoke in the language of moments."

    "Of shared pains and light amusements."

    "Straightforward language has no Grand Answer for dealing with loss..."

    "But life does."

    "Life with all its little charming incidents, its quirks, its delights..."


    "Is it not nifty?

    The Sluggite Koan, Written by T Campbell, illustrated by H.S. Kim.

  30. Maragon,

    When I was a little kid I used to marvel at each tiny thing. I would stare at my hand like an idiot for such a lng time, wondering how marvelous this thing was, and that, in nature, a wolf would eat it with no respect whatsoever (I had just read a couple of Jack London's books). Or I would go to the toilet, and make "my thing," while thinking how many people in the world could be doing the very same thing at the very same time, and how much shit was produced at that very moment, and how much water used. It was astounding to think like that, to make questions in my mind all the time. Anyway the point is how happy I was all this time.

    What I am trying to share with you is this sense of wonder. We are alive right now. This is all we know we have. Discovering our "powers" is about the most exhilarating thing we can do. When we lose someone, it is, to me, another reminder that life is here, and we should live it. I know, I have lost people, important people, since I was very little. Thus, I almost always have this feeling of urgency to keep discovering my talents, and sharing, and talk to people about their own possibilities / potentials and the richness of a life of discovery.

    I do not know if this helps. But here another hug,


  31. Maragon, my dear, I'm so very sorry. As others have reminded you, the only real comfort is the truth. Pain is an insult and death is an outrage, but until we've learned to banish them from our existence we needn't fool ourselves with pretty stories. Take care.

  32. PS: I forgot to give you a virtual hug. Here's two to make up for it.

    *Hug* *Hug*

  33. ((((((Virtual group hug!!!!!!))))))))

  34. Atheists really are the kindest people.

    Thanks for all of your good thoughts guys.

  35. For what it's worth...
    I'm sorry for your loss.

  36. Hi Maragon--

    I'm so sorry to hear about all the loss you're having to endure. Like Stew, I've been pretty fortunate in this regard; most of the relatives I've lost I barely knew. Needless to say, my luck won't hold. My dad just turned 80.

    This is one of the few areas where believers have it all over atheists. But to me, it's a small price to pay for living a rational life.

    If there's ever anything I can do--even if it's just to lend a sympathetic ear--please don't hesitate to let me know. We all care about you.

  37. I'm really sorry to hear about the bad run you are having. I hope you and the others affected by your losses can find a little bit of solace in each other's company.

    Always remember with joy the times you had with those who you have lost and what they meant to you. That's the best tribute to them.

    I really enjoy your writing. We atheists have chosen a harder path, but one that is closer to the truth. Take care.

  38. "Maragon said...
    Atheists really are the kindest people.

    Thanks for all of your good thoughts guys."


  39. Psh - I think you and I can be considered Honorary Atheists, LAOF :)

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  41. WHATEVER, W.E.M. :-)

    No offence to my 'hosts' but I would not accept that title (or honorarium, if it would be considered such).

    But I will not belabor the point. I didn't intend to ask for the praise of men (or women).


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