An Atheist Deals With Death In The Family

I apologize for not feeling up to writing anything much for months since the unexpected death of my mother, April 21. Apart from the grieving process, I discovered the death industry is still very much biased against atheists/humanists.

Starting with the Ottawa Hospital, yes the same one that put up a Christian nativity scene and brushed off Ottawa CFI’s letter of complaint. Trying to track down her valuables meant dealing with social workers at the hospital. I never seemed to get through but oddly going around them and talking directly to security worked. Apparently they had not hired enough social workers but they do seem to have money for some religious chaplains. I do have to wonder why a publicly funded hospital would need any paid religious staff; surely religious patients have their own church taking care of them?– apparently humanists/atheists don’t need anything as there are not even any token humanists on staff.

My mother had not bothered writing a will let alone pre-planning her own funeral, which left us scrambling to arrange funeral arrangements. Would she as a believer have wanted a preacher to do the funeral? I noted the funeral home had rabbi’s ministers etc. listed as an option but no humanist officiant options. We did decide on a humanist, compromising with some hymns for the religious and the funeral home did manage to find us a humanist– I still wonder why one was not listed as an option on the pre-arranged funerals.

Some religions insist upon an open casket and the religious in my family got their way. This was disturbing to some of my non-religious family although it did not bother me. An open casket does mean embalming is necessary and is so totally unnecessary.

Finally, it totally amazed me receiving a form letter from the hospital involved asking my mother how her hospital stay was, signed by the very head of the hospital who had brushed off CFI’s complaint about the nativity scene.

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