Is it possible, after a twentieth century whose history was dominated by odious deaths, to live a non-morbid relation with the departed, for the most part unknown to us, and yet still too close for our lives not to be secretly gnawed away at by them? At first glance, we seem to find ourselves constrained to respond in the negative. For this essential mourning seems impossible to envisage if it is referred to the general alternative of which the relation to the departed seems to admit. This alternative can be stated, summarily, in very simple terms: either God exists, or he doesn’t. Or more generally: either a merciful spirit, transcending humanity, is at work in the world and its beyond, bringing justice for the departed; or such a transcendent principle is absent. Now, it becomes rapidly apparent that neither of these two options – let’s call them for convenience religious or atheistic, however innumerable the ways in which they can be configured – allows the requisite mourning to take place.