February 7, 2012

Life and Death

Despite the many atheist references in the sidebars, you've probably noticed I actually blog about religion/atheism very little.  I've mentioned before that this is because it rarely comes up in our daily lives.  B and I weren't religious people that decided to cut ties with our church after we questioned our beliefs.  Neither of us grew up in particularly religious families and we discussed our beliefs (or lack thereof) well before we had kids.  So it's never been a major focus in our lives.

Yet where there is life, there is also death.  A huge part of religion is what happens after you have lived.  Atheists think death is the end; there is nothing more.  So here I am writing this not knowing exactly what the future holds, but with the deep sadness of loss all the same.  My father-in-law was diagnosed in November with acute myeloid leukemia.  He has been getting the best care available through Emory, but he's had a really rough time.  Tomorrow he will be going home for hospice care to help him be as comfortable as possible until the end.  

My FIL has been living with my SIL during this time.  I know this will be the hardest for her.  She's been right there through everything.  I've always known her to have amazing strength, but what she's done over the past few months is nothing short of heroic.  

It's been a tough day for all of us, and we are all dealing with it differently.  It was very hard to tell the kids.  Robotson was so upset.  He hates cancer, it's not fair, and he doesn't want this to be happening.  Dimples cried.  Funny Girl asked a lot of questions, but she's not reacting emotionally right now.  Because we've talked with the kids about death before, they have an understanding that this will be the end.  They don't think there is anything after death, so the question of what happens to his body came up.  He wants to be cremated and his ashes taken to the top of Stone Mountain and released. 

Kids don't have the same reactions to death that adults have though.  B and I think and talk about it constantly, but the kids are doing their normal kid stuff.  The girls played and watched t.v. most of the day, while Robotson kept his mind busy to avoid it.  I can understand his reaction because it's what I do in stressful situations as well.  I think I should make an effort to embrace my feelings though.  

The next several days will be hard.  I think back to my wedding day and the births of all of my children; my FIL is always present.  I think about how he would play with the kids, watch football with B, and always made me feel lucky to have such wonderful in-laws.  I feel like the kids right now.  It's not fair and I don't want this to be happening.  Right now it doesn't seem to matter how I thought about death and dying beforehand.  Being in the middle of it, there is no comfort.  It just hurts.


  1. Thinking about all of you, Sarah.

  2. I am so sorry! It is quite obvious you and your family love your father-in-law immensely and he will live on in your memories. My thoughts are with you.
    ~ Kirsji ~

  3. At times such as these, some would say that it would be "nice" to have a religion for comfort.
    I say "no".
    Dealing with your feelings and the experience is powerful and humbling and unique.

    I'm thinking about you and I know you and your family will hold each other a little bit closer...

    Peace, Karen

  4. You are all in my thoughts at this time.

  5. You all are at the front of my thoughts this week. Loss and the grief that follows is an intensely personal experience, something we all have to walk through alone, and yet I hope you and your family can take comfort in the fact that you are loved.

    Cherish those memories, and know that you have given him the most wonderful gift of an afterlife and immortality through your children.