Why do Christians Cry at Funerals?

Have you ever wondered why Christians cry or act sad at funerals? Have you ever asked yourself why Christians fear or fight death at all? Why do they even bother treating life threatening diseases or engage in risk avoidance of any kind? One would think that if they really believed in a heaven, that death would be seen as a welcome occurrence, rather something to be resisted. After all, if heaven awaits cutting this, often unpleasant, life short would be a blessing. I cannot help but find it odd, that people who act so convinced that they are destined for a blissful eternity would do anything to delay it, or feel sad when a love one gets to reap his reward.

I have also always wondered if there is any evidence to suggest that people who believe in an afterlife, are more accepting of others wasting their time. It seems like this would logically be the case. If you believe that life on this Earth is just a preamble to an infinitely long existence that will undoubtedly be better than this one, than why worry about how your time here is spent?

Compared to the eternity one will supposedly spend in heaven, one’s time in this world would be infinitesimally brief. After the equivalent of the first 1,000 Earth years spent in heaven, the years spent on Earth would seem like short lived, ancient history. That first thousand years would also be just the beginning. After the equivalent of 1 million Earth years spent in heaven, the 80 or 90 years of one’s earthly life will seem like an utter triviality. Once this would still just be the beginning.

Many Christians and other believers will answer that they fight death because they have still have work to do on Earth (often in the form of winning more converts to the faith). But, when one of them dies, why don’t they celebrate that his or her work is done? I suspect that many religious people actually harbor great doubts about the after life they claim to believe in. Despite their faith many believers probably recognize that this life on Earth is the only one they are guaranteed to get. Additionally, they recognize that there is a chance that they won’t be reunited with deceased friends and loved ones, and that is why they cry at funerals, just like the rest of us.

I am sure, that for many, a belief in an afterlife, makes some of the harsher aspects of this life easier to cope with. I however, do not have this option, being someone who rejects the notion of an afterlife. The realization that this is probably the only life I will ever have, makes this life infinitely more valuable to me. It makes me less tolerant of people wishing to waste the limited time I on this Earth and less willing to spend my life doing dull monotonous work. The realization that this will probably be my only life, greatly enhances the importance of going places and doing things with my life. My fellow atheists, are forced to view life as precious resource, and a wild ride that is to be treasured at every moment. Knowing that this is our one shot at doing something meaningful is a far stronger catalyst to do it, than a faith that minimizes and trivializes this life.

I strongly disagree with religious people who suggest, that not having an afterlife makes this life less meaningful. If anything, not having an afterlife, makes this life infinitely more valuable. It also makes my relationships with friends and loved ones infinitely more valuable. Knowing my time spent with loved ones is a precious resource, that is in short supply, is all the encouragement I need to make the most of it. I am saddened at funerals, because I realize the person, I am mourning really is gone forever. I am saddened because, I realize there are countless experience I could have had with that person and things I could have told them that will never come to be. Realizing that we will not be reunited in an after life, makes their time on earth even more valuable to me. That is why atheists cry at funerals?

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One Response to Why do Christians Cry at Funerals?

  1. Crayton says:

    Yeah, my grandpa just died, and most of the sadness comes from missing him. As you said at the end, there are many experiences I wish I still had the chance to share.

    But, at the same time my grandfather had given his life to God. And, so, the funeral service was full of smiles and laughs when remembering him, knowing (believing) that he is now being taken care of. We did “celebrate” his passing.

    I agree, that Christians should view this life as more important than most do. The idea of heaven often seems like a plush retirement from life, that we get to enjoy just by being Christians. This idea can lead us to be laxidasical in how we go about life; it can lead us to waste our lives.

    I would also wager that had it been my 25yo brother who died, rather than my 85yo grandfather, “celebration” would have been more difficult. All in all, perspectives like yours should encourage the Christian to re-evaluate death and its place in our lives.

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