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Thread: Why is death so difficult?

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    Senior Member Makers!*'s Avatar
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    Why is death so difficult?

    For the person facing death, there is generally fear, most likely emanating from the unknown. There are ideologies that attempt to undermine this fear. I have known an exceptionally zealous Christian to turn into a wall of incoming fire without a hesitation and proceed to command. In the moment a round skipped off the top of his helmet, I wonder how much his devotion drove him into the fight, or whether he was acting on the instinct, flee danger or destroy it. A good soldier is trained for the latter. And that day no one died except the enemy. I used to pray before every mission, but the anxiety of death was unpacifiable. When it came down to it, adrenaline always carried me through.

    More taxing still, is losing a loved one or the though of it. I've heard of some people trying to turn this into a celebratory event. That beer should be raised in remembrance and sorrow turned into the gladness of having known the departed. I'd like to cultivate this attitude in those that love me, although I know that in my closest family, it's unlikely there'd be anything but languish, as I will undoubtedly feel the same when they go. My only theory is based on selfishness. That with them will go apart of myself, the parts they know better than myself, along with all the experiences we've shared and knowing they will not bring me the joy they always have.

    Death is very difficult. Why? Do you believe this is alway so, or that accepting it can be eased through committment to a certain ideology? What is it that causes us to mourn?

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    凸(ಠ_ರೃ )凸 stuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Makers!* View Post
    Death is very difficult. Why? Do you believe this is alway so, or that accepting it can be eased through committment to a certain ideology? What is it that causes us to mourn?
    I've gone through some painful deaths without ideology (at least none that I'm actively aware of). I think that death+ideology is a crapshoot, "foxhole christianity" if you will, but also the opposite, meaning ideology being broken by death.

    And I don't know why, but I'm attracted to death. It engages some dormant, undeniable part of myself. Trauma? perhaps.

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    Global Moderator Polemarch's Avatar
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    I'm not sure anyone I've ever cared deeply about has died. I'm not sure how to feel about that.
    We didn't land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us.

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    Scobblelotcher Sistamatic's Avatar
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    A life is like a sand castle built between the tides of birth and death. No matter how elaborate the castle is, all that is left behind when the tide comes in is the effect someone may have had, or that their work will yet have on everyone else's castles. So when someone dies, it feels to me a bit like one of those sand paintings being swept away...all the intricacies and experiences that made that person....whoosh. Dust.

    I have a lot of trouble at funerals. Anything I say that feels true seems cruel. I usually need more Kleenex than next of kin, and I feel like there is a big spotlight on me as a result. Then I feel like some sort of pretender--like everyone is wondering what gives me the right to express so much grief for their loved one. I wish I had a choice in the matter. It's just that the entire funeral process which is designed to give Christians comfort comes across to me like public spectacle of a hammer pounding a stake into your heart of just how fucking awful it is that this person is gone. It goes on and on. A viewing. A service. A sermon. A drive to the cemetery. Lowering the body to the ground. A steady hammer beat of Gone Gone Gone Gone Gone Gone Gone over and over without end.

    Just cremate me and remember me, that's all I want. Maybe go on a hike to someplace pretty and dump what's left of my atoms there.

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    Senior Member Senseye's Avatar
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    I like the celebratory event approach to funerals. It works to a large extent with "friends" of the deceased who can fairly easily reminisce about the departed in a nostalgic and happy way.

    It's a little tougher on the loved ones who are still feeling the pain of the person's absence. I think the friends feel a bit disrespectful to be "celebrating" in the midst of anyone who may be mourning, although in my experience, the mourners don't mind it - I think they generally think the departed would appreciate it, but they themselves can't quite get in the mood.

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    Losing someone is so difficult because it sorely raises the primal fear of being left alone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Makers!* View Post
    Death is very difficult. Why? Do you believe this is alway so, or that accepting it can be eased through committment to a certain ideology? What is it that causes us to mourn?
    It's so final, unlike sleep. I think religions are popular because, in some fashion or another, they do away with this finality. That eases the difficulty, I suspect, but it also results in too much of living life for the one after. From my POV, that seems like a waste, although others might differ.

    To also be fair, I have a hard time in general with the concept of hope, but I think I would be happier with it. I'm trying to work on a sense of hope that doesn't rely too much on something that I consider unreal, like religion (or, hell, even politics.)

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    Sky Anvil Vison's Avatar
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    Death is an ending of someone and their involvement within the framework that is inside to accommodate them. Lives are built around and through people, once they are gone all the patterns inside that rely on the deceased's influence are left hanging, empty and unfulfilled into eternity. And it is happening to all the people around you at once. Most of the grief felt is for yourself, for those around you for their loss with some thrown in for the world. There is grief for the person to have ended too, but most people seem to be grieving the ideas they had for that person.

    I like the celebratory style of a send off because it reframes the focus onto that person's past vitality and its value to the community/people. People spend much more time remembering real events that happened, quirks of that individual, happiness brought to them. Along with the sorrow I have witnessed many people come to a point of gratitude much quicker for having known the deceased while they were here. The grief for what will never happen again lessens some as people concentrate on what positivity they have received. Party with the ghost of the lost at your side for a night.

    At least, this is what I have seen and experienced when I have attended such gatherings.

    I don't have a problem with believing in an afterlife, though I remain unconvinced myself. It is useful to imagine a loved one is in a paradise and to one day see them again. It calms. They aren't gone forever, one day that smile will be seen again and a person can wait.

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    igKnight Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sappho View Post
    Losing someone is so difficult because it sorely raises the primal fear of being left alone.
    I'm not sure this is quite right. I mean, it could raise that, and the things I found most difficult to accept could be painted in that light, but it isn't the colour I would use.

    After the initial sucker punch of the revelation of death, there are all these things that stab and needle you for months afterward. The cruel bite was thinking: "That's funny! I'll have to remember to tell... FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!"

    I wasn't lonely, I was amputated and suffered phantom loved one syndrome.

    Then, about a year later, after having learned by rote drill of inescapable force not to think of things in terms of sharing them with the departed, the massive oppressive weight of "They're not on a trip. They're not just somewhere else, they're really truly dead" comes crashing in like an ambush predator and it's like you've just discovered it.

    I can see how that sense of future void might be thought of as being left alone, but it doesn't feel like loneliness to me. It's missing someone in the most absolute sense that they are missing from your life. You're not alone, they aren't there. The loss of those I love doesn't leave me lonely, it leaves me maimed.
    --Mention of these things is so taboo, they aren't even allowed a name for the prohibition. It is just not done.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    I'm not sure this is quite right. I mean, it could raise that, and the things I found most difficult to accept could be painted in that light, but it isn't the colour I would use.

    After the initial sucker punch of the revelation of death, there are all these things that stab and needle you for months afterward. The cruel bite was thinking: "That's funny! I'll have to remember to tell... FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!"

    I wasn't lonely, I was amputated and suffered phantom loved one syndrome.

    Then, about a year later, after having learned by rote drill of inescapable force not to think of things in terms of sharing them with the departed, the massive oppressive weight of "They're not on a trip. They're not just somewhere else, they're really truly dead" comes crashing in like an ambush predator and it's like you've just discovered it.

    I can see how that sense of future void might be thought of as being left alone, but it doesn't feel like loneliness to me. It's missing someone in the most absolute sense that they are missing from your life. You're not alone, they aren't there. The loss of those I love doesn't leave me lonely, it leaves me maimed.
    All very true, and I'll happily sign all of what you've just written in a heartbeat: it sounds like the mature way of dealing with the loss of someone close who probably isn't a parent. My initial answer was too laconic, I'm aware. I was orphaned early so I might not be able to ponder death and its effects on the living objectively at all.

    To abbreviate, I agree with what you're saying, and have been through precisely the stages you described. It's just that, for me, guilt always accompanied them: "What good does it do them now to be so sad? In the end, it comes down to only pitying yourself." And that – not mourning itself, but the self-pity contained – I find unacceptable; for myself, that is. I harbour no doubt that the vast majority of people is able to mourn in an entirely innocent way.

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