2015-05-19 – Andy’s obituary got 171 likes.
Okay, I don’t really know anyone named Andy who recently died. But you know what I mean. You put a death notice on your Facebook page and everyone who sees it clicks “like.” And naturally, no one really likes that Andy died. It’s just an expression of sympathy.
During the past week we’ve seen the latest in a string of stories about how Americans are losing their faith. Church attendance is down. More and more millennials identify as atheist or other or nothing at all.
So when a friend or family member dies, the most they can do is post a memory on a Facebook page or click like on an obituary.
If you’re an atheist, there may be no afterlife. But there is an afterlove.
It’s hard when you’ve lost faith. Religious communities have rituals. Someone dies and you know what to do. You know how to express bereavement and you know how to express sympathy.
I think the Jewish religion is very good at this. Stunned survivors know exactly what to do. And the ritual creates a bond between a mourner and the community for an extended time. It doesn’t take away the pain of loss, but it gives support. Other religions do similar things. Death is a rite of passage to another realm.
Folks without a faith have no rituals. You have to make thing up as you go. There’s no centuries old traditions. And , as far as I’ve seen, there’s no good replacement.
And yet, you don’t have faith. You don’t go back. And people don’t know what to do.
We’re a fragmented society. We’re all loners.