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Let’s talk about death and why we don’t talk about death


SeaJay
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Because for most people the idea of dying/death is terrifying. Me included. Yesterday I had a panic attack; sweating, fingers tingling, rapid breathing, racing heart, and light headedness. Not to mention the panicking that made it all the more worse. Everything calmed down and I was fine. 
 

Then today. Just when I was getting back to a semblance of normality, I experienced a single sharp pain in my chest, just below my throat, and a second later, three or four mild palpitations. The sharp pain lasted about half a second and that was it. But it worried me. 
 

It worried me so much I did 40 press ups and jogged on the spot until my heart was beating like the clappers, and I had no adverse effects at all. Then, I did another 41 press ups and jogged again, heart going like the clappers again. No adverse effects at all.
 

Later we took the dog out for a walk down the river, and I did some real jogging. Lungs pumping heart racing, and no adverse effects. Then, whilst walking, about 15 minutes later, I felt a slight, brief ache across the bottom of my chest (somewhere below the diaphragm). The ache lasted less than a second and was very mild (a non anxious person probably wouldn’t have noticed it). But that also worried me, so I went jogging again, lungs pumping, heart again going like the clappers, but no adverse effects at all.
 

My thinking is, a person with a bad heart who is about to have a heart attack, would not be able to do what I did (it was quite intense) without keeling over or something happening (I really pushed it). Of course, I could died there and then, but I didn’t. And I think that’s why I go through the exercise routine, because deep down I am pretty sure I’m not having a heart attack, and I’m just clarifying what I believed to be the case. 
 

Anyway, I realised that the real cause of all my anxiety (or at least most of it) stems from my inability to accept death. I needed to confront it head on by thinking and even meditating on it (actually meditating on death - which I read on a book about Buddhism). SoI sat there and pictured me clutching my chest, dropping to the floor and dying. Not only that but I followed it through with a trip to the mortician’s, them slicing me open, and it was at that point I realised I wouldn’t feel or know  thing about it. I was put in a coffin, and pictured my clothes and body rotting away, until I was nothing but a skeleton under the earth, which itself turned to dust. Yet I never felt a thing. 
 

That’s basically what this post is about. Facing death head on and realising it’s a natural part of life. Mark Twain sums it up pretty well for me: 

 

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.”

 

I also realised that death doesn’t really scare me (you’re dead right? So you don’t even know your dead). It’s the ’dying’ that scares me, that is because of the feeling of not being in control. So I will learn to be at peace with not having control. I read in a book about Buddhism (again), that we have to realise we never ever had control to begin with. Also, leaving this world behind, all its beauty, the loved ones you have to let go, your dog, cat, wealth, whatever. And again, from a book on Buddhism,  I read about that inability to give up things, stuff we cling to, it’s called ‘grasping’ (there’s a Pali ((I think it’s Pali)) word for it but I can’t remember it), and we can work on that too. 
 

It’s interesting that, before my fears about hellfire, I was in therapy and I realised my anxiety was coming from my fear of dying. I remember I was talking about stuff to the the therapist and at the end I said to him, “I guess I am just afraid of dying.”  What he said has stayed with me for over 30 years, he said, “I’ve been waiting for you to say that for weeks.” Is it a coincidence that I am now back to being anxious about dying now that I have admitted Christianity probably isn’t true? I’m not so sure it is. I think it’s a natural return to how I was prior to all this worry about hellfire. Now that Christianity is fading for me, I can see what is really going on inside my mind. 
 

I’m just fed up with being scared and anxious all the time so I’m going to work on that fear of dying. Face it head on, look it in the eye and say, “do your worst - I’m not scared anymore.” Of course I will be anxious, but it will be a level of anxiety I am happy to accept. As a good friend once said to me (perhaps not word for word): “Courage isn’t a lack of fear, it’s being afraid but having the courage to continue to go through with whatever it is that’s scaring you.” 
 

Long post so I’ll finish with another quote from someone I can’t recall, “Stars had to die for you to be born.” I like that because ultimately it’s true. 
 

How will you face death when it comes? Have you a strategy in place?

 

 

 

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I don't anticipate experiencing any anxiety after death as I won't exist anymore the instant death occurs. 

 

In fact, I anticipate being troubled by an unconcious nonexistence following my death in much the same way as I was disturbed by an unconcious nonexistence before my birth. In other words, not at all. 

 

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First, fear of death is a natural thing probably most refined living beings feel somehow. It keeps us alive. Fear of pain and death is a survival mechanism.

     Problems can occur, I think, when this useful mechanism malfunctions some how. 

    By the way, you shouldn't grasp non grasping as well. Holding to a belief like - I shouldn t be afraid if dying- is also counter productive. It is creating this ideal self which you measure to a perceived non ok self and it's the same rumination. Ajahn Sumedho is great on that.

     Also maybe there this great uncertainty of how dying really is.

    This is how I look at it. What I will say is you sure seem to puts lots of pressure on yourself to be one way or the other. Like you get very anxious around perceived imperfections in thinking feeling and behaving.

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10 hours ago, webmdave said:

I don't anticipate experiencing any anxiety after death as I won't exist anymore the instant death occurs. 

 

In fact, I anticipate being troubled by an unconcious nonexistence following my death in much the same way as I was disturbed by an unconcious nonexistence before my birth. In other words, not at all. 

I tend to agree. I say tend to because this is a new (well newish) way of thinking for me. I am probably going to be thinking like this lot more now. Similar to what Mark Twain said, we’ve been dead for a few billion years and it doesn’t seem to have upset us much at all. 

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7 hours ago, Myrkhoos said:

  This is how I look at it. What I will say is you sure seem to puts lots of pressure on yourself to be one way or the other. Like you get very anxious around perceived imperfections in thinking feeling and behaving.

Funny you should mention this because just this morning I was feeling anxious about the last couple of days but I said kind loving words to myself and it calmed me down. Saying things like, it’s ok, everything will be alright, there’s nothing to worry about, you are loved, and so on. 
 

I basically soothed myself and I don’t think I can remember ever doing that before. It worked. This may sound cheesy but it’s true. I became my own best friend. I reassured myself instead of having anyone else do it. I’m not sure if this is a known thing in psychology but it’s like, starting to love yourself after so much self criticism and self-dislike. Like learning to be self loving (but not in the narcissistic sense). 
 

It ties in with what you say above, because if I can be more compassionate towards myself, there will be less self criticism and other negative thoughts. 

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On 7/31/2021 at 10:29 AM, SeaJay said:

 

My thinking is, a person with a bad heart who is about to have a heart attack, would not be able to do what I did (it was quite intense) without keeling over or something happening (I really pushed it). Of course, I could died there and then, but I didn’t. And I think that’s why I go through the exercise routine, because deep down I am pretty sure I’m not having a heart attack, and I’m just clarifying what I believed to be the case. 
 

 

Get your blood pressure checked. Heart problems aren't an all or nothing proposition. I have high blood pressure and atrial fibrilation. And I'm on meds for it. Get a blood panel for your doctor. 

 

If you can jog and do push ups though, you're probably in pretty good shape. lol. 

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On 8/1/2021 at 8:20 PM, midniterider said:

 

Get your blood pressure checked. Heart problems aren't an all or nothing proposition. I have high blood pressure and atrial fibrilation. And I'm on meds for it. Get a blood panel for your doctor. 

 

If you can jog and do push ups though, you're probably in pretty good shape. lol. 


Thanks for the encouragement. I tend to get my blood pressure checked when I go to the doctor, but haven’t for a good while due to the pandemic. I have borderline hypertension but the doctors don’t think I need medication just yet. It’s coming though, I have little doubt about that. 
 

Have to say, for my 53 years, I think am quite fit (at least to the point I’m usually surprised at what my body can do). I’m also willing to bet there are a few of my friends around my age who probably cannot do what I do. Not that that is much to go by 😄

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On 7/31/2021 at 1:29 PM, SeaJay said:

I’m just fed up with being scared and anxious all the time so I’m going to work on that fear of dying. Face it head on, look it in the eye and say, “do your worst - I’m not scared anymore.” Of course I will be anxious, but it will be a level of anxiety I am happy to accept. As a good friend once said to me (perhaps not word for word): “Courage isn’t a lack of fear, it’s being afraid but having the courage to continue to go through with whatever it is that’s scaring you.” 

 

That's it. You being fed up with the fears and anxiety and trying to take the drivers seat. I think that's your best bet towards possibly beating the anxiety. 

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On 7/31/2021 at 2:02 PM, webmdave said:

I don't anticipate experiencing any anxiety after death as I won't exist anymore the instant death occurs. 

 

In fact, I anticipate being troubled by an unconscious nonexistence following my death in much the same way as I was disturbed by an unconscious nonexistence before my birth. In other words, not at all. 

 

 

Sounds about right to me 😑

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Like Jesus and Lazarus, I plan to do fantastic things here on Earth after I are dead :)   "on the third day he arose again from the dead ....."  🚴‍♂️

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I think the best any of us can do is to live each moment as if it could be our last.  I remember a client of mine saying, ''The only breath you can depend on is the one you are breathing right now''.  I have never forgotten that. I would say that most humans are afraid of the way they will go. Being dead is not the issue. It's how we will go. That's the fear we must conquer. Of course I have the same anxiety as most others. So on my fighting days, I boot the fear in the arse.

 

I have dabbled in Stoicism and it teaches you to accept your own death. We will have to say goodbye to everything and we can even pre-grieve this (and they suggest even having a good cry over it) which I have done.  They even get you to picture your own funeral.  I take time to smell the roses now. So go today and keep fighting that anxiety and enjoy all your jogs. And take in all the sights while your at it. Tell the anxiety to fuck off when it hits you. When I use my 'strong' language, it helps my brain listen to me better. Lol  (hug)

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2 hours ago, Margee said:

I think the best any of us can do is to live each moment as if it could be our last.  I remember a client of mine saying, ''The only breath you can depend on is the one you are breathing right now''.  I have never forgotten that.


That’s a good saying. I like it. 

 

2 hours ago, Margee said:

I would say that most humans are afraid of the way they will go. Being dead is not the issue. It's how we will go. That's the fear we must conquer. Of course I have the same anxiety as most others. So on my fighting days, I boot the fear in the arse.

 

Exactly my own fear. I couldn’t care less about actual, dead in the ground death. My fear stems from the actual process of dying/losing control/leaving this mortal realm/letting go. 

 

2 hours ago, Margee said:

I have dabbled in Stoicism and it teaches you to accept your own death. We will have to say goodbye to everything and we can even pre-grieve this (and they suggest even having a good cry over it) which I have done.  They even get you to picture your own funeral. 

 

I do similar. I meditate on dying, from start to finish, possible pain, the terror, the nothingness, and even the trip to the mortuary, funeral parlour, funeral, and in the coffin. The lot. 
 

2 hours ago, Margee said:

I take time to smell the roses now. So go today and keep fighting that anxiety and enjoy all your jogs. And take in all the sights while your at it. Tell the anxiety to fuck off when it hits you. When I use my 'strong' language, it helps my brain listen to me better. Lol  (hug)


I know what you mean. 

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Most of us experience pain, perhaps even agony (kidney stones!) at some point, but we just don't happen to die right then. Pain never killed anybody. Some people actually are in some pain when they die, others have no pain (wife has 26 years working with Hospice). Imagining a prolonged, gruesome end isn't helpful or very realistic. Of course I'm assuming you're envisioning some long, painful disease as the means of exiting. That's probably not the reality. In a medical setting there is no need for pain. 

 

About ten years ago we heard our friend had a fatal heart attack in his sleep. We're all at that age where we all, to a man, said, "Lucky bastard." So no, we don't fear death, we fear pain - but we get pain all the time anyway, so... fuck it. 

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8 hours ago, florduh said:

Most of us experience pain, perhaps even agony (kidney stones!) at some point, but we just don't happen to die right then. Pain never killed anybody. Some people actually are in some pain when they die, others have no pain (wife has 26 years working with Hospice).


That’s interesting. I suppose I have always associated pain with death. 
 

8 hours ago, florduh said:

Imagining a prolonged, gruesome end isn't helpful or very realistic. Of course I'm assuming you're envisioning some long, painful disease as the means of exiting. That's probably not the reality. In a medical setting there is no need for pain. 

 

That’s a good point. 
 

8 hours ago, florduh said:

About ten years ago we heard our friend had a fatal heart attack in his sleep. We're all at that age where we all, to a man, said, "Lucky bastard." So no, we don't fear death, we fear pain - but we get pain all the time anyway, so... fuck it. 


Speaking for myself, it’s the dying (losing control and knowing you are leaving behind loved ones) that scares me. Which is why I’m facing the subject head on. It isn’t easy though because, aside from meditating on dying, I’m not sure what I can do to beat it. 

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On 8/7/2021 at 5:59 AM, SeaJay said:

(losing control and knowing you are leaving behind loved ones)

 

 

On 8/7/2021 at 5:59 AM, SeaJay said:

Speaking for myself, it’s the dying (losing control and knowing you are leaving behind loved ones) that scares me.

 

You were never "in control" otherwise we wouldn't be having this discussion. It's okay. Perhaps some of the wisdom in Eastern thought will resonate.

 

 

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Just by coincidence I came across this today and found it pretty interesting. So did many others as I read down through the comments on the video. Here's a quote from something he said,  "If sleep is just death being shy, then waking up is just atoms being miraculous"  

 

 

 

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On 8/7/2021 at 3:13 PM, florduh said:

You were never "in control" otherwise we wouldn't be having this discussion. It's okay. Perhaps some of the wisdom in Eastern thought will resonate.

Good video, thank you for the link. 
 

is there a reason there is a massive white space in your post? Between the date and time right down to your actual post. It’s huge. 

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22 hours ago, Margee said:

Just by coincidence I came across this today and found it pretty interesting. So did many others as I read down through the comments on the video. Here's a quote from something he said,  "If sleep is just death being shy, then waking up is just atoms being miraculous"  

 

 

 

Thank you, I enjoyed watching that. 

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20 minutes ago, SeaJay said:

is there a reason there is a massive white space in your post? Between the date and time right down to your actual post. It’s huge. 

I have no idea why it did

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that.

 

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2 hours ago, florduh said:

I have no idea why it did

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that.

 

Probably because

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I struggled with this same thing when I left Christianity. I found a book by James Warren called, "Facing Death - Epicures and his critics." It really helped me to come to some of the same conclusions you mentioned in the post. As others have said, it was realizing that I did not exist for billions of years before I came to being. It did not bother me then, why should I be bothered about it when I die. I am certain that I will probably have some level of fear when I am actually dying, if I am in a situation where I will know I am dying. Mostly because I have never done it before. The book addresses that as well; I found it really helpful.

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On 8/17/2021 at 2:58 PM, SeaJay said:

Unable to log in for a good few hours.

 

Phew!

Just like being dead, eh? 😝

 

It seems to me there are two possibilities. 1) Dead is dead and there is no "you" to experience or realize you're even gone. No sweat. Then there's 2) You are not the static observer watching life and the universe go by as your body deteriorates, but rather a part of, or expression of, all that is. In that case the real you shall continue as always and forever. No sweat here either.

 

 

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