"I'm not afraid of death; but dying scares the hell out of me." - Jack Cleary
I've always loved this quote, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn't afraid of death at all. The thought of just ceasing to exist is pretty big. But I think that the big problem people have with this is because they imagine death minus an afterlife to just be this big, dark void where they're stuck, alone, forever. I've always just assumed that there would be absolutely nothing, including no me. I wouldn't be whiling away eternity and be aware of being lonely, I just wouldn't have thoughts. There would be absolutely nothing. It's hard to wrap your head around absolute nothing though.
One of the things that made me feel better about dying, though, was finding out about "green burials". Instead of standard embalming fluid, which is highly carcinogenic, they use a vegetable based-one. Then they place you in a coffin made of biodegradable materials, and bury your 4ft under as opposed to 6ft, because it's easier for the body to breakdown at the shallower depth. There are eco-friendly cemeteries popping up all over North America, and I read one article where they just plant a tree on top of you, or a large rock, and you're buried in this forested area.
This just made me feel so much better about the whole thing, because instead of your body just turning into toxic sludge in a coffin that won't breakdown, you'll eventually just turn into soil and become part of the Earth. It seems very peaceful.
I wrote an essay once about how true death no longer exists, and that is was the invention of photographs that changed everything. Before photography, once a person was dead, that was it. You were never, ever going to see their face again. But once pictures became popular and easily accessible, you could see people even after they were dead, so death like we used to know it was conquered. Not really on topic, but that's another thing that makes me feel better.
I have to add this comic, because I love the author and it illustrates how I feel about the whole religion/death relationship.
The happy thoughts religion gives people about an afterlife is certainly one of the reasons it has been successful in manipulating so many people over the years. But as an Atheist I've always felt religious types live life in a bubble waiting for the "great heaven" bit so start, going to sermons every Sunday to listen to B/S and missing out on so many great things in life because their church is against them. Its there loss, not mine.
Dealing with the concept that death is the end is sort of like the trade off for living an honest life with the opportunity for full experiences and knowledge. And maybe you'll appreciate the people around you more if you know when they are gone they are gone.
Enjoy everything the world has to offer, and encourage everyone around you to do the same.
'Les peuples passent, les trônes s'écroulent, l'église demeure' Napoleon Bonaparte
Death, in the traditional sense is not necessary. Well, it won't be. I see it as extremely likely that the human lifespan is about to shoot up to at least many hundreds of years. Nascent medical technology will allow us to repair the DNA damage as it occurs. Nascent but not quite imminent, if that makes sense. I think if you are born now or later, you've got a good shot at not needing the long shot of cryogenic suspension to survive. Those of us adults, imo, are likely to die before our 120th birthday, even with exercise, lifestyle control, supplements and current medical therapy.
Vitrification. Long shot, maybe. Barbaric, maybe. But way the heck less of a long shot and less barbaric that cremation and embalming with burial or entombment. These traditional forms of dealing with human remains, I think, now, are disrespectful and wasteful. If you burn your body to ashes or remove the blood and replace it with formaldehyde, you are guaranteeing permanent decay of your structure and therefore your identity. Disgusting.
Life is good, right? Death is bad, right? Why have we spent so much time, money and effort trying to mitigate disease instead of trying to eliminate death? Religion, I say. Going to Heaven is not a good delusion, as if any delusions are. If we stopping believing that death is inevitable, then maybe we can avoid it with technological progress. But, we have to try first. Issues like overpopulation and cost effectiveness can be dealt with and are not insurmountable obstacles, imo.
So, I deal with death by trying to be happy and productive till such a time that the machine that is me breaks down. And I will try to do what I can to put off that breakdown. And if I need to cool the machine that is me down to -81 degrees to stop decay of my DNA and organs, then, so be it. I have no delusions about the likelihood of my own death whether of 'old age' or the possibility that I get hit by a bus today, but, I will not accept death lying down or with a smile. I will fight, under almost all circumstances to stay here in this reality as a viable entity. Not out of fear of not feeling or thinking anything at all, because how can not existing be painful, but because life is fun and pleasing and a prerequisite for any other experience.
I found this insightful...
We have about 35 years of oil left in the world. When it runs out, the republicans will find something else to make money from. A child can make hydrogen from a glass of water so that may not be profitable. It only makes sense though that we should be applying science to make hydrogen safe to use as the eventual lack of burning fossil fuel will hopefully heal the earth and water. Even if it's not safe, if it blows up it won't poison the ocean like nuclear power. (say goodbye to tuna fish sandwiches by the way) The point is that medicine makes someone money. All the medicine consumed goes into the water and we become immune eventually. What would make long life profitable? That is the question that, if answered, would slap science right out of the park as it accelerated toward the discovery of immortality.
As far as living life goes,.. Have you ever smiled at a child whom you don't even know? It's kind of strange that we do that if you really think about it. I mean, what good does it do us personally? I think I have the answer to that. We have a survival instinct just like every other animal. (They say lions will die with an erection) We wish any child to have a good and safe situation and proof of that is a smile returned. We don't know them but, in a way, they are part of us as they are from our species. We not only wish to survive personally but also wish our species to continue. Focus on that is what causes us to do great things that last beyond our years.
I think we have evolved into creatures that have compassion because it is better for our survival. I wish myself and anyone else willing and able to make a commitment to themselves, their identity and health, to have radically long life. I value anyone who is productive and moral (rationally self-interested).
The republicans can suck it. If we had a government that properly upheld individual rights, no one group of people could gain and control one technology in an unfair manner. Unless you count productive members of society, but that would not be unfair.
What would make long life profitable? Long life is the profit. We get long life after creating technologies that allow it. The question is 'what would make these technologies and the achievement of them profitable?'. The answer is health and longevity. People will invest and buy them as soon as they are seen as a realistic investment, which is not too far off, if you ask some experts.