When someone dies, people often offer their prayers by means of offering the their kindness and support, even those who don’t pray.
And non religious people like me wish that the deceased should rest in peace.
I don’t pray for anyone because I am pretty sure it’s no more than talking to an imaginary friend. If belief in a god brings comfort to the bereaved, who am I to argue, even if it doesn’t make it real?
I wasn’t with my mum when she died and I was half the world away when my dad died, but I was with my step dad.
I had the call from his Residential Care Home that he was dying and I’d better hot foot it.
I arrived and he was, obviously, in bed. He was breathing but life was drifting away.
As the moment got near, the guy who ran the home told me it was imminent and did I want to be there? At first, I said I didn’t and I stood in the next room, but I suddenly realised I had to be there.
Shortly after I went back into the room and I heard his final breath, his heart stopped beating and he was dead. Nothing else changed. He wasn’t moving before he died and I am pretty sure he was in such a deep sleep he wouldn’t even be dreaming.
Of course, I felt sad for a while. This was, after all, the man who came along and made my mum’s life worth living for a good few years but then he got struck down with Parkinsons, the most evil disease, and it took away everything that made his life worthwhile.
I watched his final years with a mixture of sadness and despair. There was nothing positive to say about what the illness did to him.
I loved him but I hated what old age and illness had done to him.
So when that final day came along I was almost ready.
When he died, there was no spiritual feeling, no signs that he was passing into another world; just the end. I didn’t pray, didn’t even think of praying. Here was a god who could kill millions by way of floods, famines and plagues but he couldn’t do anything to preserve my stepdad’s dignity or make his final days more bearable.
Death was final.