Though I am intellectually convinced that only an Intelligence (i.e., God) could have created intelligence, I understand atheism. Anyone observing the terrible amount of unjust human suffering understands the atheist. But even atheists -- indeed, especially atheists, since they claim that, unlike believers, they are guided solely by reason and intellect -- have to be intellectually honest. They would have to acknowledge that, in terms of consolation, there is no comparison between "The dead do not suffer" and "Your child lives on, and you will be reunited with her."
What we have here is an intellectual unwillingness or a psychological inability on the part of Susan Jacoby and just about all atheist activists (including the New York Times, which featured, not just published, her column) to confront the consequences of their atheism.
If they did, they would have to say something like this to the parents of the murdered children of Sandy Hook:
"As atheists, we truly feel awful for you. And we promise to work for more gun control. But the truth is we don't have a single consoling thing to say to you because we atheists recognize that the human being is nothing more than matter, no different from all other matter in the universe except for having self-consciousness. Therefore, when we die, that's it. Moreover, within a tiny speck of time in terms of the universe's history, nearly every one of us, including your child, will be completely forgotten, as if we never even existed. Life is a random crapshoot. Our birth and existence are flukes. And you will never see your child again."
An atheist with the courage of her convictions would have written that. But the New York Times would not have published it.
All this column did for me was reconfirm this insight of the Bible: "Wisdom begins with reverence for God."
No God, no wisdom (witness your local university). And certainly no consolation.