On Death and Dying
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05-02-2013, 09:20 AM (This post was last modified: 05-02-2013 09:24 AM by Zat.)
On Death and Dying
I started this thread, as Zatamon, a very long time ago and I can't find it any more.

However, Euthanasia surfaced again, with the usual misunderstanding that death is to be prevented by any means, no matter the price those 'saved' will have to pay.

So I thought I resurrect the topic and maybe help some young ones to understand that death is not such a terrible thing.

Here it goes:

==================

We all die some day. We don’t like to think about it and keep ourselves busy, starting projects with definite goals and completion timeframes and that gives us a feeling of permanence. We don’t look beyond the projected end-dates, this way we don’t have to think about the futility of it all.


Don’t take me wrong, I am not depressed or scared, I am only brutally honest with myself.

What intrigues me is that my death will be a unique event in the universe.

It has never happened before and it will only happen once. The fact that billions of human beings have died during history and a lot more will, every day, is not really relevant. My death will still be a unique event.

In a way, when I die, the world will die too. My world. The only one that exists for me. The one that started when I was born and will end with me. All the stars will wink out, all the people, cities, buildings, mountains, oceans will be gone too. Cats, dogs, butterflies, squirrels, deer, raccoons, roses, sunflowers all disappear.

I was totally convinced about oblivion after a surgery. I remember the doctor talking to me and then, in an eye-blink, talking to me again – except that was 3 hours later. I had total oblivion for 3 hours. If that can happen for 3 hours, it can happen for eternity.

In view of the above, I find human causes and obsessions pretty silly. Why work ourselves up into a state, why get so excited about non-issues?

Try to live, day by day, the best way we can, without hurting anyone, maximizing comfort and minimizing pain. It will be over soon.

Of course young people (which I am not) can not live like that, they need to believe in the future, they need to have goals and a feeling of progress, accomplishments. However, one word of caution: don’t live too much in the future: enjoy every second of your life in the present to the fullest because it will never come back. With every extra day you live, you have one less day left.

With this cheerful thought I will go back to tending my greenhouse because I want to eat my own home-grown fresh tomatoes in April.
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05-02-2013, 11:27 AM
RE: On Death and Dying
Human causes are there to make life better while you're alive, and to make the lives of future generations better. At least, in the best-case scenario.

Oh hell, general anesthesia. One minute, I was talking to a nurse who was adjusting my pillow. I blinked, and it was as if I had teleported to another room, lost a chunk of time, and there were different people in the room with me. I was very confused for a few minutes.

I think it's just a matter of people being unable to imagine a world without them (not just because they are the center of their own world, but because they observe the world), and also because of a sense of "fairness," which is also why people probably believe in an afterlife, heaven, hell, and so on. It can be hard for some to accept that life is a not a permanent state, and not everything "happens for a reason," and life is not always "fair."
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05-02-2013, 11:34 AM
RE: On Death and Dying
(05-02-2013 11:27 AM)amyb Wrote:  I think it's just a matter of people being unable to imagine a world without them.
Actually, I'm quite capable of imagining a world without me. And that's what drives me nuts. 'Cause I wanna see what happens next. Don't even have to participate much. But I so want to know what they'll know in the future, and see what will happen to humanity and what people will be like in a hundred, two hundred, three hundred years. Dammit, I just want to know.

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderò."
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05-02-2013, 11:36 AM
RE: On Death and Dying
ROFL!
Maybe you better apply for eternal life then....
But you know, it may be a total let down to hang around for that. We could all blow up at any time...

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Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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05-02-2013, 11:44 AM
RE: On Death and Dying
(05-02-2013 11:34 AM)Vera Wrote:  
(05-02-2013 11:27 AM)amyb Wrote:  I think it's just a matter of people being unable to imagine a world without them.
Actually, I'm quite capable of imagining a world without me. And that's what drives me nuts. 'Cause I wanna see what happens next. Don't even have to participate much. But I so want to know what they'll know in the future, and see what will happen to humanity and what people will be like in a hundred, two hundred, three hundred years. Dammit, I just want to know.
Oh, I know. I feel the same. But I still think some people are unable to imagine it and really think the universe revolves around them.

I wouldn't want eternal life, but I wouldn't mind an extension. I'd just want to be able to check out any time I like, once I got sick of it all.
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05-02-2013, 01:58 PM (This post was last modified: 05-02-2013 02:04 PM by Zat.)
RE: On Death and Dying
When you find yourself old, with a few years, maybe a decade left to live, your understanding (both intellectual and emotional) is a lot deeper. Now you know that it can happen any day. By now you have seen people dying, their lives slipping away into oblivion, their bodies rendered to ashes – you know that your turn will come soon. You may have spent days, months, years by the bedside of a cherished person, suffering from a deadly disease, praying to a god you never believed in, for recovery.

The enormity of the concept, the finality, the relentlessness of marching, day by day, toward oblivion makes it so real that no teenager, or even middle aged person can experience (with a very few exceptions).

You find yourself slowly putting your affairs in order, summarizing your life experiences in your writings, worrying about those you will leave behind. You stop taking issues seriously, issues that made you burn with passion before suddenly start looking silly.

You also start feeling what a precious gift life has been, what a marvelous opportunity it was to live on this planet with all its beauty, truth and love. You will start cherishing every moment in every day with an intensity you never felt before. A sunset, the flight of a bird, the cavorting of a kitten, the smile on the face of your beloved, become glorious reminders of what life is about. When you reach this stage, you are ready, you have finally understood life and made your peace with death.

No teenager or young adult should experience this ahead of their time. They need to live in their present, plan for their future, be passionate about issues, experience the thrill of new discoveries, new truths, find soulmates, have a family, find their place in the world.

Experiencing the ephemeral nature of all that, with the finality of old age, would be a cruel and unusual punishment. They should celebrate their existence in the best way possible: with creativity, with accomplishments, with love. I know I did and I am happy nobody robbed me of it. Not that they could have -- I was irrepressible!
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05-02-2013, 02:18 PM
RE: On Death and Dying
Hey, Vera.

What you said resonates very strongly with me. Hell, I don't like going to sleep because I feel like I'm going to miss something.

I've had some very serious issues with the idea of death and my own mortality. I won't get into it, but it's been very difficult. I've recently been coming to terms with the fact that everything has to end. I'm still a little confused about it because we still don't fully understand space-time, so it really is an assumption that existence itself with cease, but I find the idea of not existing shitty. I certainly didn't mind before I was born, but that was before I knew what life was an all it had to offer. The thought of it ending makes me sad, angry even. I don't want to die. But I will. Such is the great existential crisis of man.

The idea of being able to come back in some form or another, to be able to perceive again, is intoxicatingly tantalising.

There are so many mysteries I want to know the answer to. Can we break the speed of light? Can we visit alien cultures on other planets? Will our species survive the 21st century (actually, I could take or leave that one)? But I know that I simply will never know the answer to these questions and about a billion others. And I have yet to reconcile that fact.

Also, I've witnessed the moment of death. In some cases it can be a terrifying and painful thing. I don't particularly want to experience that. I hate the idea that the last thing I experience in life might be terror and agony. No thanks.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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05-02-2013, 02:44 PM (This post was last modified: 05-02-2013 03:00 PM by Zat.)
RE: On Death and Dying
The last words Richard Feynman said on his death bed were:

"I am happy I don't have to die twice -- it is so boring!" (See "Genius" by James Gleick).

Sounds vintage Feynman!

Seriously, when you reach a ripe old age (72 in my case) -- you feel you have seen it all -- all that you ever wanted to see.

There is a real feeling of "being ready" -- sometime even a sense of relief that I don't have to do the bad parts (living as a member of an insane, self-destructive species) much longer.

You put things in perspective, good and bad and, if you were lucky, you have a feeling of accomplishment: I do feel that I have done pretty well everything, accomplished pretty well everything that I ever wanted.

But, I guess, you will have to be old enough and lucky enough to have this kind a peace and tranquility in your soul.
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05-02-2013, 05:17 PM
RE: On Death and Dying
(05-02-2013 02:18 PM)Ghost Wrote:  What you said resonates very strongly with me. Hell, I don't like going to sleep because I feel like I'm going to miss something.

I can do you one better. When I'm listening to the radio, I'm always changing the station, afraid I might be missing on something better... though that may not be the same thing actually Consider

Quote:I've had some very serious issues with the idea of death and my own mortality. I won't get into it, but it's been very difficult. I've recently been coming to terms with the fact that everything has to end. I'm still a little confused about it because we still don't fully understand space-time, so it really is an assumption that existence itself with cease, but I find the idea of not existing shitty. I certainly didn't mind before I was born, but that was before I knew what life was an all it had to offer. The thought of it ending makes me sad, angry even. I don't want to die. But I will. Such is the great existential crisis of man.

Yes, not existing before and after you've existed are different (or at least appear to be different while we're existing). And yes, as much as they are a blessing, our minds are also a curse (everybody, I do apologise for the heavily-Xtian terminology, won't happen again), as we seem to be doomed to yearn for things that we can never have (and that often do not even exist).

Quote:The idea of being able to come back in some form or another, to be able to perceive again, is intoxicatingly tantalising.

Actually, this is an idea that I've never been able to seriously entertain. I'm me because of this life; it is all the seconds, minutes, days, years of this life that have made me who I am, that have shaped me and continue to define me. They are me and I am because of them. Any other form just won't be me. Cannot be me. And as much as this limits us, it also makes us so much more amazing, the ultimate embodiment of wabi-sabi.

Quote:There are so many mysteries I want to know the answer to. Can we break the speed of light? Can we visit alien cultures on other planets? Will our species survive the 21st century (actually, I could take or leave that one)? But I know that I simply will never know the answer to these questions and about a billion others. And I have yet to reconcile that fact.

Exactly my feelings. Though I do want to see what happens to humankind. And I do believe that we'll not only survive the 21st century, but will advance and evolve (obviously not in the technical sense of the word, don't jump me Tongue )

Quote:Also, I've witnessed the moment of death. In some cases it can be a terrifying and painful thing. I don't particularly want to experience that. I hate the idea that the last thing I experience in life might be terror and agony. No thanks.

Yes, having your last moments be filled with terror and pain is a horrible way to go. Which is why everybody should be allowed to end their life the way they want to, as people have been discussing in another thread.

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderò."
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05-02-2013, 08:47 PM
RE: On Death and Dying
(05-02-2013 09:20 AM)Zat Wrote:  I was totally convinced about oblivion after a surgery. I remember the doctor talking to me and then, in an eye-blink, talking to me again – except that was 3 hours later. I had total oblivion for 3 hours. If that can happen for 3 hours, it can happen for eternity.
I had a surgery about 15 years ago that was about 3 hours and I remember nothing. Like you, I remember the dial of the tranqs being turned b the anesthesiologist and then...NOTHINIG - and I mean NOTHING - until I woke up and saw my wife's face hours later. Like you, I got a glimpse of eternity - of oblivion - while I was being cut up on the operating table. Pretty heavy shit.
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