Spring and Fall:
to a Young Child
Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
In his book, The Choice of Hercules, A. C. Grayling includes a very necessary chapter entitled “When Darkness Falls” (Chapter 3), in which he discusses, as he must, times when we are sick or dying or grieving, for life is not always summer afternoon. Indeed, as Grayling says,
[t]o live is to contract for loss. Only if you die before the deaths of people you care about, and never separate from any of them because of a quarrel or because they move away or abroad — in short: only if every one of the thousands of exit doors that take people out of each other’s lives stay shut until our own opens out of all of theirs, will you not know loss of this kind. [53-54]
Or, as Richard Robinson said in his book, An Atheist’s Values, the
chief argument for the legitimacy of suicide is that life is a trap. We have not asked for it, and it can be terrible. 
When I saw the sun, this morning, shining on the trees in Maplewood cemetery where Elizabeth’s ashes are buried, it brought to mind Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem, the chapter from Grayling’s book and Robinson’s rather trenchant remark.
Contemporary atheism is optimistic. Given its wall-to-wall phalanx of writers hell-bent on mocking everything that smells of religion, it may seem that this label is ill-applied. Yet under its bluster and iconoclasm atheism is full of good cheer and high spirits. Anyone who knows an actual atheist knows this.
And what, one would like to ask, is wrong with being full of good cheer and high spirits? But the claim is ridiculous: Where do the religious come up with their zany ideas?! Atheism is a lot of things, but it is definitely not full of good cheer and high spirits. For atheism, after all, is an “ism,” a word, the name for a point of view, a Weltanschauung, if you like, sometimes accepted by people who find that they never could or no longer can believe in a god or gods. Not all atheists are comfortable with this word, because it is simply a negative term, which makes it seem as though nonbelief in gods is dependent upon belief in gods, or, further, as though atheists have nothing besides the negation of religious belief in common, as though it is all about negation. And it isn’t.