I've never seen any credible evidence that consciousness or "spirit" is separate from corporeal existence. It's rational to consider consciousness as existing in the brain, and when the brain stops functioning, so does consciousness. I think when we are dead, we must be dead.
Last month when I was diagnosed with cancer, I thought about this more than usual. It wasn't comforting, but also not distressing. I thought it was eerie, when I realized that I had no memory all of anesthesia, either going into it or coming out of it. It was like a little death, but in this case there was life after the interruption. Not evidence for life after death, just kind of an advance feeling for what death is like. Nothingness.
As I've said before, both you and Joan are noble and strong people. My wish for you both, for what it's worth, is many more years in this world.
I know what you mean about the anesthesia. I had surgery for a burst appendix about 25 years ago. The doctors didn't think I would make it, but I did. But as soon as they put me out it seems like I was awake again immediately. No long, drawn out sense of the cessation of consciousness, no dreams, nothing. I think that must be what death is like, except of course there'll be no waking up. But cessation of consciousness is really nothing bad.
I remember having a hard time coming out from being under and it was not pretty. The being under part was fine, itself, though. :>
I had my 4 third molars drilled and pulled out when I was 23 and I insisted that I remain awake while the oral surgeon was doing the drilling and pulling because the idea of being put to sleep with nitrous oxide gas felt scarier that being awake and knowing what was being done to me during my tooth yanking operation. I don't understand how you could just resign yourself to not existing. I logically know that during the eternity of time that happens after you die you will feel (or not feel) the same way you didn't feel during the eternity of time that happened before you were born but this isn't comforting and doesn't make dying seem less scary. You just keep convincing yourself that the time you will die is so far into the future that it is like it will never happen and then one moment things revert back to the way they were before you existed and you don't know the difference.
Michael, thank you, and I'm not kidding.
In memoir writing (I'm 82 and can do it), I like to experiment using 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person pronouns, and present or past tenses. Your final sentences intrigue me. To illustrate, here they are in 1st person.
I don't understand how I could just resign myself to not existing. I logically know that during the eternity of time that happens after I die I will feel (or not feel) the same way I [did or] didn't feel during the eternity of time that happened before I was born but this isn't comforting and doesn't make dying seem less scary. I just keep convincing myself that the time I will die is so far into the future that it is like it will never happen and then one moment things revert back to the way they were before I existed and I don't know the difference.
When I'm having dental work done I insist on anesthesia. To one dentist as he was about to pull a tooth, I said "I spent years tending that tooth, scrubbing and flossing it, and I think you should pay me for it." He didn't buy my story or my tooth.
The word "cancer" does get one's attention. Somehow, the sky has a more interesting blue color, the clouds form more interesting patterns, greens in my garden sparkle with life, and my family and friends matter more.
This may be my last spring, or I may have 20 more to enjoy; right now, life becomes precious and the thought of death OK because I have ridden this life for all that it is worth. I am so grateful for decisions I made and the information and understanding of why family violence is so rampant and so difficult to stop. I hope I have convinced people that silence is not the answer to anything. Thought joined with action matters more.
Joy and gratitude fill me to overflowing; even as I just sit and remember and write my thoughts. That is enough.
Those who say, "Why me?" miss the real story. Of the Billions of years of the universe, I have the privilege of participating in part of this magnificent story.
I only learned from this site what to answer believers when they ask such questions as, "But surely you believe in an afterlife?" I simply did not know what to tell them. Then someone on the site suggested I tell them I am not afraid of death because I was not afraid of it before I was born. Death is the cessation of consciousness, nothing more, nothing less. I rather like Shakespeare's image of it as the undiscovered country from which no one returns.
Very well put James.
"I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it". Mark Twain.
That's how I feel. No fear, just sadness for the trillions of things I'll never be able to accomplish, things I'll never be able to see, and discussions I'll never be able to have.
Of course, once I'm dead, no problem.
I read years ago of Egyptologists who found records of a man saying about dying: "Alas, no more sex, no more beer."
Roger, if one of my pals were to tell me he's concerned about leaving with so much unaccomplished, I would tease him about his workaholism.
I once had it and now that I no longer do, I like to tell people In America we give therapy to alcoholics and we exploit workaholics.