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JMeganSnow

Increasing Awareness of Mortality

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In the meantime, I have listened to The Beach, by Neville Shute. What is the point of this book, you say? Why, it's to illustrate that we're all going to die! The plot literally goes: Nuclear bombs already happened, lower hemisphere survived, can calculate radioactivity spread rate, know death date, do regular activities still because nothing else to do, everyone dies. THE END. No, I did not know this beforehand, it was a "lucky" coincidence.

I had realisic dreams for three nights in a row where life stuff happened but I thought, "Well, no biggie, I know for sure I'll be dead tomorrow anyway, like everyone else, from that radioactive dust cloud. Everything will be over." I do not recommend this book for anyone having this same issue!

I hadn't considered the False Tradeoff dilemma, but it does seem like I've been doing some of that. I'll check back in once I'm able to draw any further conclusions from that perspective. Thanks!

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One thing about death: you can be sure you won't be sad when it happens :)

That's true, though you wouldn't have known it from the narrator's somber drawl for the last half hour of Shute's book! 

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That's true, though you wouldn't have known it from the narrator's somber drawl for the last half hour of Shute's book! 

I've only read the first 40 or so pages, even though I enjoyed his  "Trustee from the Toolroom" and "Town called Alice".

 

With death, I reckon it is the anticipation that causes the emotions. Personally, when I think about it, the part I don't look forward to is not death itself, but a possible few months or years of total senility near the end. I see no point in just hanging around in a wheelchair, with other people having to help me with simple tasks, and with me not even having the desire to focus even on the simplest type of TV program. Or, worse still, being senile enough to be imagining things, and having psychosis-like episodes (basically, slightly loony). Yet, even here, I realize that it is the anticipation more than the event. The person who has reached that state is often not even self-conscious of it and therefore not exactly as impacted emotionally as the people around him. So, perhaps even that slow dying is not too uncomfortable.

 

That leaves me with painful death: don't want that... because I'll know it is happening and feel the pain.

Edited by softwareNerd

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I've only read the first 40 or so pages[...]

Damnit, I figured it would be obscure enough, but I guess I should have used the spoiler tags! I can't say I'm sorry I read the book, but I can't put my finger on why. I suppose I shouldn't say more, so the subtleties aren't spoiled for you.

With death, I have conflicting feelings, so I suppose I have conflicting thoughts somewhere. I don't fear death, and when I think of life being over I mostly just feel sorry that it couldn't go on longer, to enjoy more things. I don't even really fear for the possibly painful end, as I'll (hopefully) just arrange to take a syringe at that point. It's when I think about (and possibly exaggerate) the slow deterioration, basically from now until the end, is when other things pop up: some anger that it's happening, feeling helpless that I'm not able to reverse or stop physical breakdown and decay, and then sometimes at the end of these types of thoughts a deep sadness that the universe will just swallow me back up. So, perhaps it is the anticipation.

Maybe there will be a tipping point where I accept and stop being bothered by it. For now, conceiving of my life with a definite end is newly-considered, and I obviously have not settled with it internally.

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Damnit, I figured it would be obscure enough, but I guess I should have used the spoiler tags! I can't say I'm sorry I read the book, but I can't put my finger on why. I suppose I shouldn't say more, so the subtleties aren't spoiled for you.

With death, I have conflicting feelings, so I suppose I have conflicting thoughts somewhere. I don't fear death, and when I think of life being over I mostly just feel sorry that it couldn't go on longer, to enjoy more things. I don't even really fear for the possibly painful end, as I'll (hopefully) just arrange to take a syringe at that point. It's when I think about (and possibly exaggerate) the slow deterioration, basically from now until the end, is when other things pop up: some anger that it's happening, feeling helpless that I'm not able to reverse or stop physical breakdown and decay, and then sometimes at the end of these types of thoughts a deep sadness that the universe will just swallow me back up. So, perhaps it is the anticipation.

Maybe there will be a tipping point where I accept and stop being bothered by it. For now, conceiving of my life with a definite end is newly-considered, and I obviously have not settled with it internally.

 

Jaskn:

 

 

I just read this over and it rambles on a bit.  I hope it is useful.  My main point is coming to terms with death does not require any diminishment of life or your love of it.  Learn also to accept and fight for every moment...

 

 

As a human being whose standard is life, all your planning, energies, efforts, etc. are aimed at continual flourishing, in the long-term.  This is perfectly natural in fact it is morally virtuous.  You are lucky to have discovered morality and reality.  Accept your love of life.

 

Comments above are completely perfectly valid, inevitability of death and the very real souring and tainting of life that morbidity, anxiety, fear, and obsessing on death can bring about.  I have not thought of this to any real deep degree but perhaps the customary stages of grief for a loved one's death are somehow applicable for the DEATH OF THE IDEA OF IMMORTALITY you may have experienced so long ago when you became (assuming you were raised religious) a full fledged atheist.  You may be thinking now that you have gone though all the stages, are at the rational acceptance stage you should be done with it.

 

Here are a few thoughts, not fully integrated but which may be useful.

 

1.  Cherishing life and wanting to continue another second, day, year decade, from now is natural and virtuous.

2.  Accepting death as your ultimate fate is rational... it is inescapable reality.

3.  Notice that any tension between the 2 above can arise from some misdirected thoughts:

     The ultimate "end" or "purpose" of your life is not temporally speaking the end/final moments of your life.  The fact that the conclusion of your life is a death does not mean it was all for nothing. It is not the same as working toward an end goal in mind, like building a tower, where if the tower crumbles before you finish you fail.  Every moment of your life IS in a sense the goal of the act of LIVING.  It spans every second, every decade, you have alive.  It's all you have. The goal is to live it to the fullest (and make it last at the fullest).  So in some sense cherishing every moment you have is independent from the fact that they are finite. 

 

Someday death may be your immediate concern and with effort (and perhaps chance) you may escape to live another day, but right now death is not your immediate concern, and being concerned with it can only lessen life. 

 

Part of living means loving life, so while you are coming to terms with death and accepting its reality, you must also come to terms with your love of life and your fight to survive.  Accept that as well.  It is not an ignoble fight: exercise, eat well, laugh, go to your doctor, these things are not ineffectual denials of death they are effective weapons to extend life. 

 

Take your fear and turn it into passion.  Every second you extend your life you win a small victory over oblivion.  In some sense it is a wonder you were ever here... all those unthinking molecules floating in the nebula that gave birth to our sun never had a clue... Now that you are here, you need to extract from existence as much as you can.. and laugh as you go!    

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[...]Every moment of your life IS in a sense the goal of the act of LIVING.  It spans every second, every decade, you have alive.  It's all you have. The goal is to live it to the fullest (and make it last at the fullest).  So in some sense cherishing every moment you have is independent from the fact that they are finite. [...R]ight now death is not your immediate concern, and being concerned with it can only lessen life. Part of living means loving life, so while you are coming to terms with death and accepting its reality, you must also come to terms with your love of life and your fight to survive.  Accept that as well.[...] Take your fear and turn it into passion.  Every second you extend your life you win a small victory over oblivion.[...]

There was a small oversight which kept your post hidden for a while, but after reading it I wanted to thank you for your additional perspective.

 

[...P]erhaps the customary stages of grief for a loved one's death are somehow applicable for the DEATH OF THE IDEA OF IMMORTALITY you may have experienced so long ago when you became (assuming you were raised religious) a full fledged atheist.  You may be thinking now that you have gone though all the stages, are at the rational acceptance stage you should be done with it.

It's almost passed the time I can blame religion for things in my life (having eradicated a lot of it), but one of my relatives around the same age and with the same religious upbringing as me is going through the same issues. So, maybe there's something to this.

Edited by JASKN

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Also, it's perfectly all right to occasionally experience negative emotions about growing old and dying.  In my experience, the goal is not to perfectly eradicate all bad feelings (which may be impossible and induce unnecessary guilt), but to master them so that they don't come to dominate and squelch the good ones.

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