I'm not all that curious about what comes next, but nor am I affraid of it. I don't mind Death, and I have been known to wish people dead without any malignancy but merely because they'd be better off that way.
I was happy when my great-grandmother died. She was 104, half-blind, half-deaf and 100% tired of life. Good on her when she finally went.
I'd be happy for my grandmother to die. She was recently committed to a care-home against her own (somewhat erratic) will due to severe dementia, and then had to be moved to a closed psychiatric ward a few days ago. She doesn't recognise her family, yet spend all her time crying about how her boys never come to visit her, even when they're sitting right in front of her. She's not happy, and probably never will be again. Nobody here can do anything for her, and even if i never liked the bigotted old hag, I still don't wish this sort of life on her.
If there is an after-life, I'm sure it's no worse than this one, anyway. I'm not saying we'll be dancing in meadows for eternity (God, how boring!), but I'm sure it'll be perfectly all right.
There was an item on the news yesterday about how our society is guilty, guilty, guilty of letting old people die in winter.
But, I shouted at the screen, that's what old people do- they die.
And there's no way of avoiding it. You can postpone it- maybe- but there comes a point beyond which postponing it is crueler than letting it happen.
My dad, the last time I saw him, talked about being ready to "take a walk in the woods".
As Shakespeare says,
"Men must endure their going hence, even as their coming hither.
Ripeness is all."
Stephen King's Pet Sematary is depressing enough to make you shoot yourself, but it's a great book about the denial of death in our culture. There's a scene where the protagonist, a doctor, is arguing with his wife about the safety of their cat--they live next to a highway with heavy traffic--and he points out that whether or not the cat ever gets hit by a truck, he will eventually die, and they'll have to explain mortality to their little girl, to whom the cat belongs. His wife promptly freaks out in such a way that you understand she can't face the fact that the cat--and she herself, her husband, even their kids eventually--will die. No matter what.
I'm reminded of the story about the clergyman who was asked, "Well, father, what do you think happens after death?"
And he replied, "I suppose we shall inherit eternal life- but lets not talk about about such unpleasant things.
2005-10-28 04:16 am (UTC)
I've never ever been afraid of death, since from my earliest childhood days the deep conviction of life after life has been rooted inside myself. My only fear, as I get older, is that due to my reticence to learn certain lessons, I'll have to confront them all over next time. THAT does cause me sleepless nights, oh yes.
I've no idea whether I've learned the lessons I was meant to learn, but on the whole I'm happy with the way this excursion has gone- thus far.
Most of the time I don't think anything happens next. I don't believe there is a hell (what could be worse than some of what happens to us here?) and the idea of dancing in meadows for eternity (thank you sorenr
seems rather silly. Religion is something that was created by humans....
I'm in a bad mood this morning, I'll just fade into the woodwork.
I don't believe in Heaven or hell- not as permanent states, anyway- but I'm inclined to believe that life goes on....
"Because I'm really, really curious about what happens next..."
I'm just terribly inquisitive. I hate not knowing.....
I've found my excursion fraught with anxiety.
I'm also anxious about the process of dying, because I can't think of anything more lonely.
When I was in labor with my children, I felt connected to women everywhere, surely, but still alone. Because who but me could feel my pain? I fell asleep and dreamed that my contractions were glowing hoops of blue fire. But no one in the room could be with me and do anything for me but stand beside me.
My mother talks about dying all the time--every time I see her. She says, I want it to be quick.
But what if it's not quick? What if you're apparently asleep, lying there in a coma, apparently peaceful or unconscious, but in reality the real you is leaving your physical body and taking off for parts Unknown?
I would plan on enjoying the trip if I were the sort of person who enjoys bungee jumping or whitewater rafting. But being who I am, I plan on one long horrible panic attack, possibly for all eternity!
Or maybe we don't have nerve endings Out in the Beyond! One hopes...
I suspect we only have nerve endings if we want to....
The thing that frightens me isn't the business of dying but the possibility of a long drawn out senility. I've seen too many people who have lived on and on and on, long after any real quality of life has been taken away- people bed-ridden or chair-ridden, unable to make real conversation, mentally stuck in the good old days or- worst of all- trapped by Altzheimers into running through the same little twenty second bout of anxiety over and over again.
My worst fear in life is to have a stroke that leaves me trapped inside but unmoving so that no one even knows I'm still in there.
Altzheimers is a close second.
I guess the thing about Altzheimers is that sufferers don't "know" the state they're in- at least we suppose they don't. To be mentally alert, but trapped inside a frozen body- yes, you're right- that would be worse.
That's a very interesting thought. I am not so enthusiastic about death myself, but, I think, the more I "take advantage of my excursion," the less worrisome death seems.
So go out and take lots of photographs :)