Sometimes I Wish I Didn't Believe in Heaven

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Sometimes I wish I didn't believe in Heaven,

that those I loved were not so resoundingly gone,

that they lingered in the places they knew best,

the work they poured their hearts into,

the people they spent their lives caring for.

Sometimes I wish I didn't believe there was a life after death,

at least not one that takes place somewhere else,

somewhere I can't go,

and they can't return from.


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Comments 24 comments

Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia

Beautiful thoughts.....I often wish that too Kathleen.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 13 months ago from sunny Florida

No doubt, many of us agree with your sentiments...lovely

Angels are on the way to you this evening ps


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 13 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

This poem came from a Sunday night at the end of a rainy weekend. I always miss my Mom on Sunday nights. That's when I lost her.

Thank you for the shared sentiments. I love how those of us who've experienced this kind of loss - help each other through it.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 13 months ago from California

So true. In the last four years we have added three grands and a daughter-in-law mom would have adored, So hard sometimes. The only solution is hugs and more hugs. Bless you.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 13 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

tireless: Y'all have had more than your share. Having each other is what gets you through. You are so right.


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 13 months ago from Victoria, Australia

Yes, it's sad now, but how lovely to look forward to meeting our loved ones in Heaven. What joy that will be!


rjbatty profile image

rjbatty 13 months ago from Irvine

I'm an atheist so I looked at your poem from a different perspective. Sometimes the idea of death really frightens me because, well, it would mean the absolute end of everything. At other times I feel, well, what a relief it would be to be rid of all the irritations of existence, including the ceaseless cascade of thought itself. I go back and forth depending on my mood or mode of existence.

I label myself as an atheist because I really do not suspect that there is any higher (or unseen) meaning to life than what we've got. This is by no means elevating. I'd like to believe there is something interesting waiting for us beyond death, but usually I just view this as wishful thinking, mixed with a kind of self-remorse -- that all my experiences will simply wink-out like a bad computer hard drive.

At other times -- in times of real stress, pain and doubt, I kind of look forward to being ... nothing. When I was just a fetus, I didn't seem to mind not having an intellect or any accumulation of experience. If I had thoughts of any kind, I certainly don't remember them. So, maybe nonexistence is really rather merciful. If there is an afterlife, I really hope there is some kind of mind-dumping process.

As we get older, we carry more and more baggage, and this really becomes burdensome. I don't want to think about what happened to me in the fifth grade (for example) for the rest of eternity. And yet the pain we've experienced here on planet Earth makes us part of who we are. We're calibrated by the measure of good stuff and bad that we encounter, and this forms our personality, our uniqueness. Without the bad experiences contained in our baggage, who would we be -- certainly not our original selves. And even if an afterlife somehow ameliorated our bad memories and heavy baggage, it would change us into something else -- something that isn't what we are now.

Also, I'm not really that keen on revisiting dead relatives. I had enough of them once they were alive. Sometimes I miss them but I kind of feel a sense of liberation with their having departed. I had good times with them and a number of not-so-good times. If I had to spend additional time with them, it would feel burdensome. I've moved on to adapt to life without them. My time with them was sufficient.

So, your poem is definitely sweet and very sentimental, but I don't connect with it.

I really hesitated leaving this kind of feedback, but I thought you might appreciate it as a counterpoint to all the warm-fuzzy responses. It's not intended to aggravate or create a sense of negativity or to just be contrary.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 13 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

rjbatty: Your point of view is more than welcomed. Often we only get feedback from hubbers who think the way we do. Another idea is an opportunity to see things differently. That should be a good thing.

I also have folks I'd just as soon not see again! Thanks for your thoughtful response.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 12 months ago from Arkansas, USA

I do believe in Heaven, Kathleen, so this poem presents an interesting perspective that I've never thought of. I really enjoyed it.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 12 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Victoria: I'm a believer too. This poem came to me from missing my Mom. I know she's there, but it doesn't keep me from missing her. Glad this one spoke to you. Thanks for commenting.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 12 months ago

I can understand the sentiment of not being able to return to visit us. My parent are both in heaven now and I think often about how wonderful it would be for them to visit. Some day though, we will be together again and will visits will be daily.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 12 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

teaches: Amen


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 11 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

tireless: I think I misread your comment. I also have a new daughter in-law who my Mom would have loved. It's hard to image enough time has gone by that there are those now in our family who never knew her. Three years this Sunday.


rjbatty profile image

rjbatty 11 months ago from Irvine

Do people really think that when they die, someone is going to be there to shake their hand? Congratulations, you led your life in an honorable way so let me lead you to the bus that takes you into heaven.

You have to possess the mentality of a child to believe this sort of thing. And what is heaven? One man's heaven is another man's hell. Sure, you can miss the departed, but the idea of meeting them again is beyond a Disney fantasy. The dead are dead. You are never going to see them again, but you won't care because when you die, everything just winks out, and that includes your total consciousness.

For anyone who has really focused upon their pet cat or dog, you can see that they possess some limited amount of consciousness. They are truly beings, creatures not far removed from ourselves. Are they going to heaven too? Or is this only the domain of homo sapiens? If so, where do you cut the line? When did our ancestors become basically indistinguishable from ourselves? So what -- we can expect to bump into some Neanderthals here and there?

Honestly, we've got to give up these fairy tale ideas about our nonexistence. Nonexistence is stark, yeah, but look toward what the Buddhist monks do with their exquisite sand paintings once completed. They obliterate them. To the Western world this seems like a tremendous waste, but to the Buddhist it is part of a ritual to emphasize the impermanence of everything. No matter how beautiful and artful life may seem (to some), it ends in a hand obliterating the whole picture. This is reality.

We came from nothing and we'll end up in the same place, and it's better if more people just accepted this inevitability because perhaps we'd either appreciate life more or weird as it may sound, maybe we'd appreciate life a bit less and that could work to our overall betterment as well.

Why wear a suicide jacket? Why accelerate your own demise? We're all going to die at some point, so why insist upon having gold handles on your casket? People in the West do not want to contemplate that life is meaningless and death is just a period mark on a bunch of stuff that happens to us while alive.

For me, belief in a world beyond this is an admission that you can't handle the truth -- that once you die, everything about you vanishes. I admit it's stark, but we're supposed to be adults, yes? If you think you are going to enter fantasy land upon death, you've been to Disneyland one too many times.

Kathleen, I hate to rain on your parade this way, but I just have to lay it out there. This whole notion of an afterlife bridles me because it gives people this false hope/expectation that their lives amount to something when it doesn't.

Okay, if you believe in God then all the rest must be very comforting. But, if you don't believe in a supreme being (we can all agree that Zeus doesn't exist, yes?) and this supreme being must be Christian, yes? Then we have nothing to fear, right? I mean if you're PC enough you'll go to heaven, if not, you'll get to visit Lucifer. It's a toddler's tale. Something to make you feel comfy as you fall asleep at night. The good go to heaven and the wicked are sent to hell. If you really believe in such a simple concept you really need some psychiatric examination -- no, no psychiatric (because they'll just plug your doubts full with pills) but some deep psychoanalysis.

The world is generally a very shitty place to live and we'd all like to imagine that by upholding moral standards we will somehow be lifted to paradise (however that can be depicted).

Kathleen: I'm tired of it. I'm tired of these worn-out words that don't place us one millimeter closer to heaven as it is conceived. My suggestion is thus: Let's all take responsibility for our actions/inactions while here on planet Earth. Let's uphold some kind of laws of morality. That's important. Let's not decapitate people because they belong to another tribe. Let us strive toward some kind of global peace. That would be nice. And if there is something after, something we cannot glean from our present positions, let's suppose that's a bonus. We cannot fathom an afterworld, so why even try, why even bother contemplating it? If there is an existence after this one, it will know what to do with us. You have to assume that the system works better than the DMV; otherwise, we'll be spending a near eternity in some amazing queue.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 11 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

You are not the first responder who feels strongly on this issue as you can see from the other lengthy comments. All views are welcome and I appreciate you taking the time to express yours in such depth. The length of my poem pales in comparison. Thanks.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 11 months ago from California

Beautiful and inspirational!


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 11 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks Audrey. I felt compelled to reshare this poem today. It's been 3 years today that I lost my Mom.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 9 months ago from The Beautiful South

I feel very sorry for the rjs of this world. Personally I don't know how I would make it through without the hope of Heaven and reuniting with all my loved ones there. Of course I wish my loved ones back many times but I know they have done what we all must and I somehow envy them that.


rjbatty profile image

rjbatty 9 months ago from Irvine

Jackie -- no need to feel sorry about this rj. I'm getting along fairly well absent God and the notions of heaven and hell. It's a path less traveled. Atheists are a tiny minority. We aren't a united group. If you become an atheist, you walk your own mile.

Having once been a believer, I can agree that this path is more rocky, but your travels seem more authentic. I sometimes envy believers because they seem like a happier club. But, even if this is true, you have to follow your own intelligence and gut instincts. My clan consisted of fairly ordinary people with good qualities and some not so good. They were just fallible human beings like myself. Yeah, it's painful when they pass away. We miss them for all their good intentions and even unconscious intentions. But do I miss them to extent of finding it necessary to fabricate an afterlife that brings us all back together? No. I don't see any necessity for this to occur.

They did their best while on planet Earth. They inculcated me to accept ancient concepts of faith, but then I became independent and derived at other conclusions. While I think that we can all benefit by contemplating morality in depth -- and it leaves an imprint -- this doesn't give me sufficient ground to adhere to a supernatural hypothesis. It boils down to a matter of faith. Atheists can deconstruct works like the Bible -- taken by many as a literal truth. But if you possess "faith," none of this is even nominally disturbing. It's all very easy to dismiss.

I don't slam believers. I understand the vehicle propelling them forward through life, and it gives them a great deal of comfort. Getting off the bandwagon takes a certain amount of "faith" that logic is a better ride -- more bumpy and sometime downright scary, but it makes you feel more independent. It's not something to feel sorry about. We few choose to take the bumpy ride.

Atheists -- most of us -- don't even contend with believers. I think most of us are fallen-out Christians -- so there is hardly any opposition. We don't come knocking on your door, asking, "Have you heard -- God doesn't exist and we can offer a more satisfying way to lead your life?

Atheists are not missionaries. Some few get into public debate, but the vast majority of atheist just remain silent. We don't have mass meetings every Sunday. In fact, the group hasn't formed any kind of unified criticism. People disbelieve for a wide range of ideas and experiences. But, most of us seem to get along rather well by being self-guiding. You don't read about atheists becoming suicide bombers just to reduce the Christian population. We don't hate believers. Instead, we just try to live out our lives without the convenience of dogma.

It's definitely a very bumpy road, but it's one we choose to take, and although the ride may be less comfortable, we have no choice but to take it. Once logic prevails, you don't have much choice. So you can feel sorry for us having to ride in a vehicle that doesn't have great suspension, but there is no need for sorrow.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 9 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Jackie: I believe yours is a natural response coming from a person who has experienced grace and the gift of faith. Thanks for your comments.

rjbatty: It's interesting to read the journey you've taken to come to the beliefs you now hold. I hope you've arrived at a place where you are at peace. No one else can define our experiences for us. They are ours. Thanks for adding to this discussion.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 8 months ago from Long Island, NY

Great poem. Definitely gives us something to think about life before it's over.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 8 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks, Glenn. Not sure I get what you mean, and I'd like to hear more - but thanks.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 8 months ago from Long Island, NY

Kathleen, What I meant in my comment is that we need to consider and nurture the good things we have while we are still alive - Friends, health, loves, etc. That's actually what I got out of your poem.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 8 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

I love that you got that! Sometimes we say more in a poem than we knew we would.

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    Kathleen Cochran profile image

    Kathleen Cochran532 Followers
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    Kathleen Cochran is a writer & former newspaper reporter/editor who traveled the world as a soldier's better half. Her works are on Amazon.


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