Wednesday, 2 March 2011

How can we ever come to terms with death?

Is death our eternal oblivion?
Death. It's a hopelessly grim subject and one that most of us don't like to think about. We live our day to day lives as though death does not exist, as though we and everyone we know will just go on living like we are forever.
We act as though death is something that is so far from us at this moment in time that we need barely give it a passing consideration. We all like to imagine living a long life and if we must die at all, perhaps dying late in our elderly years in a peaceful sleep.

Yet there have always been those who have taken time to seriously consider our own mortality and purpose. It is a subject has inspired countless philosophies, songs, poems and works of art.

For many of us, it is often only when experiencing the loss of a loved one or someone that we know, that the reality of death comes suddenly crashing down on us.

The cold, hard reality is that nothing is certain in this life except that one day you will die. One day everyone you know will die. One day- we will all be dead. We may try to trivialize this fact in any number of ways, but it is a truth that is 100% certain to happen.

Not only this, but death can strike at any moment and in any shape or form. We are given absolutely no guarantees. Death happens to the young and the old. The best we can do is to try and prolong our lives by staying healthy and avoiding danger.

So what happens when we die? Ask most people, regardless of how well educated they are on the subject, and they will tell you that death "is not the end". Our bodies may die, but our minds continue to live.

Some say that we all go to a place called heaven or to a spirit plane/reality. Others say we go to heaven or we go to hell. Others say we are born again into a new body. There are numerous theories, but ultimately they all promise life after death.

But what if there is no life after death? What if death is the end? What if, when we die, we just cease to exist? We enter into what we can only compare to a dreamless sleep that we shall never wake up from.

Many people say they are scared of ghosts. Is it not far more terrifying that there are no ghosts? Isn't the idea of an endless nonexistance being the only thing awaiting all of us at the end of this life far more scary than any spook or spectre? Isn't the idea that the loved ones we have lost have simply dissolved away into nothingness something that should haunt us every day of our lives far more?

It is strange to think of those who have died, to see people in photographs or even movies- to think that at that point in time they were alive, and now, they are gone. It is far stranger to know for a fact, that the same fate awaits us and that one day others may be looking back at pictures of us.

It is strange to think of this from a wider perspective in the sense that time is continually passing by and that essentially, "yesterday" is now gone forever. We can never get it back. And what we do right now will be tomorrows yesterday.

So, is death really the end, or is there an afterlife? Does an afterlife await all of us, or is it conditional upon the things we do in this life?

If death is the end, how can we really go on living meaningful lives carrying the burden of this knowledge? Surely if death is truly then end, then our life is just a countdown to oblivion? A hopelessly bleak outlook indeed.

I realise this is quite a depressing subject to deal with, but it is one which my mind does not want to rest from until I find satisfying answers.

This blog is going to be my attempt to grapple these questions and try to find some answers.

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