In Memoriam: Parvin Baharloo

By Jack M. Pedigo

My wife, Parvin, died (she hated the word “passed”) suddenly and unexpectedly from an aggressive form of brain cancer. While she was not a member of FFRF, she was a member of the Humanists and gave some help to the Brights. She also attended the FFRF convention in Portland and made it possible for me to become an After-Life Member.

Parvin was born and raised in Iran in a moderately Islamic household and was the only girl with four brothers. Her mother gave special attention to her only daughter and supported her in every way, including her questioning of religion. From the beginning, Parvin could not understand the hold of religion and was a lifelong atheist. When she was diagnosed with cancer, she knew this was the end and embraced it totally, much to the chagrin of her siblings, although her three children supported her unquestioningly. She refused any treatments because she knew the quality of her life would be compromised. Lots of people said she must consider all life-preserving measures and one niece told her miracles do happen. One question we had is that if so many believe in an afterlife, why are they so determined to avoid it? We hear “don’t play God” when one seeks to end their life, but one never hears this when one is going through extraordinary, unnatural means to extend it. Whenever Parvin heard “I believe,” her response was, “You want to believe.”

Parvin was upbeat and wanted her final days to be joyful. She sent out a message of “no tears, no prayers” (which caused some consternation). She chose to participate in Washington state’s Death with Dignity program after which one of our neighbors — an FFRF member — told her, “You know you are going to hell.” They both had a good laugh.

Unfortunately, just before the end of life medications could be delivered, she went into a coma and died some hours later. The pricey medications were donated back into the system to help someone who could not afford them. It was also asked that donations go to our local DVSAS (domestic violence program), of which Parvin was an active board member. Her will was changed to include DVSAS and the Humanists.

In life, Parvin was a dedicated teacher. Even her death has caused a whirlwind of conversations about death and religion (like offering prayers to an atheist) in Lopez Island, a one-of-a-kind close-knit community of 2,400 residents in Washington.

Freedom From Religion Foundation