I did Death Watch with a friend's family once. Her mother was near passing, and we had placed a hospital bed in the family's livingroom with a crew of friends and caregivers. This happened during the few hours/days around New Years 2000, so it was memorable, and heart felt.
I stayed in the room, with the mother as she slowly passed, not knowing how to be helpful, but knowing that I was witness to something that was important to myself and the family's well being. In the background, the TV was on with the news from around the world as the change to 2000 rolled around the planet.
I noticed that the air in the room had changed, with the smell of ammonia, and the caregivers came in to clean her. A little while latter, I noticed a silence, as breathing stopped, and a simple peace filled the house.
The silence felt like a prayer, almost. I never really saw the transition, but felt that silence, it is amazing how loud another's breathing is, and how life processes seem to fill the space around us.
Sorry, James, but that just seems so incredibly inhumane and unnecessary to me. I wish our species would get over itself and let people opt out by quick death while under anesthetic. This whole idea of drawing it out to the last possible laboured breath just saddens me.
The family was Catholic, need I say more...
Wow, James - thanks for sharing that with us. You made me feel like I was there.
How I might choose to look at existence and its inevitable end is the quintessential moot question, isn't it? since the FACT of death is not altered by my perception of it. It just is, and there's nothing I can do about it. All I can do is make the best of it. I like to challenge religionists who demand that I explain what comes after death to remind me of what came before life. That generally elicits a blank stare in response. That being said, I'd be glad to share my particular coping paradigm.
First of all, I see no reason why I should fear what comes after death any more than I retain horrific memories of my suffering before I was born. Secondly, I define eternity, in human experiential terms, as one's particular lifespan. Therefore, whether a baby dies in infancy or an old man hangs on to 110, those two eternities are of equal quality, equal value, and perhaps most profoundly, equal duration. Sometimes, too, I like to think of death as a dreamless sleep during which there is no sense of time passing.
Nearly everyone, including me, fears dying, because it usually is accompanied by physical pain. If there were a god that promised relief from that agony, I would have a much tougher time rejecting him/her/it. But that, too, is moot, because no religion of which I'm aware bothers to address that issue. I'd like to think, though, that I would still reject it, because giving up my powers of reason is my idea of the ultimate hell.
"I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it."
-- Mark Twain --
I was a closet atheist for about two or three years, and even now it feels fresh and rejuvenating to me. But that last hoop to jump through has been something of a miserable challenge. On one hand, it's really simple to just accept immortality to be an utter falsehood. On the other, we cling onto our consciousness and despair that we won't always have it. As Paul Kurtz of the Center for Inquiry says - "Live your life exuberantly. Don't bemoan your fate!" To me that's the best way to roll. It might be a little dismal, but it's true. And thank goodness it's true!
i understand where you're coming from. i just deconverted myself. but this is how i see it. even if heaven was real, i shouldnt have to bow down and worship some dude. heaven is supposed to be gold. why do we need gold if were dead? i have no need to go to heaven. my idea of a heaven isn't bowing down and worshipping some dude for eternity.
i actually didnt have that hard of a time deconverting. it was dealing with christians. do research about christianity, the orgins of christianity, look up the gay dude king james 1 that wrote kjv bible, after my eyes were open, i just accepted it.
feel free to look at/ join my group i have links that you might be interested in reading.