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Shippy's avatar

Why is death so final?

Asked by Shippy (10015points) November 28th, 2012

I hate death. It comes and steals people we love when we least expect it. It destroys things we know, breaks up families. It is so final. How can they lie there so silent? Forever.

Forever is such a long time, and makes me think they did not even exist. In time your life memories are filled with nothing but ghosts.

Have you any sayings or poems or thoughts on death, that help the bereaved?

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33 Answers

Sunny2's avatar

That’s the question religion hopes to answer. You just have to decide to believe the explanations there.
I believe that people haven’t finished existing until there is no one on earth who remembers them. You keep your dear ones alive, in your heart.

marinelife's avatar

Our memories keep them alive in our hearts.

Bellatrix's avatar

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Judi's avatar

it sounds like you’re having a really bad day @Shippy. I don’t have answers for you but I hope the world seems brighter for you really soon.

AshLeigh's avatar

When a dear friend of mine died last year all I could think was this Haiku that I wrote:
Asher has to live
Vicariously through you.
Do not let him down.

Someone once told me “It’s never easy, but living for them really does help.” I’ve found that that is very true.
It’s been such a controversial year, and when I miss him I try to do something that we would’ve done.
I read his bucket list once, and I’ve been trying to remember the things he wrote on it, so I could do them for him.

Shippy's avatar

@AshLeigh That is one of the most beautiful things I have read. Thank you, I will pass that onto my son. We lost his father this weekend.

Coloma's avatar

I am not afraid of death, and while it is always sad to lose a life form we love, be it a human or an animal, there is also something so cosmically mysterious about death, yet also inevitable and so perfectly natural, that I find it to be an exercise in the mysteries of nature and the universe.
Since I am not religious I do not necessarily believe in an afterlife, but, I am also fully open to all possibilities.
I have this little fantasy of feeling my body drop away and soaring at light speed through the cosmos and exploding back into the infinite oneness of the universe.
I find this fantasy not only comforting but also a grand adventure.

What’s next? Anything, everything, nothing?
I’m okay with all of it.
Send me to heaven, I know I won’t go to hell, haha or…reincarnate me as another life form, or…eternal rest. I find all options equally appealing quite frankly.
I think the first step in not fearing death is to love the mystery of life.

I’m kinda hoping that there is such a thing as reincarnation and that I might come back as a sea turtle or a pampered pussy cat that belongs to someone like me. lol
Admittedly I really don’t want an eternal spin of being a human over and over again. Once is enough,let’s make the next carnation interesting!
To infinity and beyond! :-)

josie's avatar

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-Dylan Thomas

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

William Faulkner said the following: “Given the choice between grief and nothing, I chose grief.” It doesn’t help much, but it helps me a little.

Coloma's avatar

And,death is a great way to save money!

Bellatrix's avatar

@Coloma, I think the OP has just lost someone very close and is struggling with it. I don’t think the question was so much about how she views her own death but how to cope with the loss of those we love.

Coloma's avatar

@Bellatrix Yes, we exchanged a pm and I am confident that @Shippy understands the intent behind my sharing. Smiling through the tears our little Tugboat :-)

bkcunningham's avatar

John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

DigitalBlue's avatar

If you are not a religious person or if you don’t believe in an otherworldly afterlife, it’s often especially difficult to deal with the idea of how “permanent” death is or how this life is all that we have. I know that many people that I’ve met, and people who are close to me, who struggled with their faith found that to be the biggest hurdle for them on an emotional level. Even if you are religious or believe in an otherworldly afterlife, I still think the sentiment here can be appreciated. I find this very comforting:

“You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him/her that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let him/her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her/his eyes, that those photons created within her/him constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly.”

hearkat's avatar

@Shippy – My condolences to you and your son. My ex-husband died when our son was 7, and telling him was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I don’t recall you mentioning your son previously, so I have no idea how old he is, but I hope he is handling it as well as can be expected.

No one knows whether death is permanent for the deceased; but as you indicate, it is permanent for the survivors. Since there are no guarantees of what will happen in the future, I try to avoid having any sense of “unfinished business” with anyone. So when my own father died a couple years ago, I felt nothing, because I had resolved all my issues with him and realized that he could never be a Daddy to me.

If you have specific issues about handling this yourself or with your son, feel free to PM me. Sadly, my mini-vacation is over, though, so I won’t be around as much in the coming days.

lillycoyote's avatar

I hate death too. And I hate it for the same reason you do: because it is so, absolutely final, there’s no fixing it, no work around… the end. It takes them, and it takes from you, everything they were.

In any man who dies there dies with him
his first snow and kiss and fight….
Not people die but worlds die in them.

~Yevgeny Yevtushenko, “People”

When someone you love dies, “worlds die with them.”

But there’s no getting around it. I’m sorry for your loss. I have lost many people I have loved.

You can’t do much else but try to get through it. Like tunneling through a mountain: you can’t go back, the rubble is blocking your way, there is no going back, and you can’t sit in a little dark hole in the middle of the mountain forever. All you can do is keep chipping away, keep moving forward. And there will be days when you don’t feel like doing it; when you can’t do it. But that is your only option.

It gets easier with time, but it will never be easy. Remember and honor the people you loved and have lost by living the kind of life they would want for you; because they loved you too. Don’t forget that.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

I wonder the same thing @Shippy. I lost my husband 3 yrs ago and my father a little before that. I have a daughter who was 14 at the time the first 2 years were rough for her. She is now soon to be 18 with a boyfriend and getting ready for university. She has grown. At these times I wish he was here to see it all I often wonder can he see it all? Is he helping things go smooth for us like they have been? But I also wonder now what is the purpose of life?

Death does seem final because we are physical and social beings and the missing never stops hurting but in 3 years I have realized that though the physical part of my husband is gone he still lives here with me, it could be in a look my daughter gives me, in my daughters laugh, in my husbands mothers eyes, in the way a complete stranger walks, and in my dreams. I hope you are blessed with the same.

AshLeigh's avatar

@Shippy another thing that I found to be very helpful after I lost Asher was to take a balloon and write everything that I never got to say to him on it. I imagined that wherever he was, he was happy and free from pain. I watched the balloon float away until I couldn’t see it anymore, and I pictured it reaching him.
That made me feel a lot better, because it was the only goodbye I could have.
I am so sorry for your loss.

JLeslie's avatar

Worse than death can be the pain of living. Living to mourn the death of someone we loved and even more difficult sometimes is mourning someone who loved us. The loss eventually becomes manageable almost always, and we move forward.

You wrote, how can they lie there so silent? That really hit me, because I think I am one of those people who want to physically hold onto a person. Still be able to touch them, be near them. When someone dies it is heart wrenching for me to see them dead. There, but not there. It is not peaceful to me as so many people I know describe. I don’t see them as peaceful and it does not give me peace. So, it is a conflict to want to have every last second possible with them, and not being able to handle witnessing them in death.

Why is it so final? Who knows why really? I figure there is no real answer. Many religious people believe you will see that person again. But, does knowing you will see them again really help that you are here on earth suffering with the loss now? When my grandma died I thought to myself how nice it would be if she could be with her father who died when she was 5. She missed him her entire life. But, I believe death is final, over, no afterlife, and so my usual focus is on the people who remain here to grieve, and not the person who has died. Although, especially if they are young I feel awful they did not get to experience more of life. I think sudden unexpected loss can be especially jarring.

I don’t think of the people who have died as ghosts. They are still very real to me, but not here anymore.

lillycoyote's avatar

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Though it sure doesn’t feel that way sometimes.

Unbroken's avatar

@Shippy I am so sorry that you are suffering. I don’t know the situation. But death is never easy.
I didn’t read any of the comments. I intend to. I think if I read them no I will reinforce that I have nothing brillaint or helpful to say.
Truth is life just goes on. And so it should. The world picks up and you try to pick up with your grief. You have memories unfulfilled dreams and those are yours to preserve share or put away as your needs keep you moving.

Maybe the important thing is to honor their thoughts and views of immortality. For instance, I will never be great or famous or world reknowned, but I think I would die happy knowing I made a positive difference in someone’s life. The ripple effect. It’s powerful stuff.
And no matter what you believe about the afterlife or lack of one. That is something real you can do. I sometimes talk to my memories of people dead or alive and just out of touch. It can be frustrating at times and hopefully if I do feel that way I can reach out to people that also knew that person or just write a letter, sometimes I keep those letters sometimes I burn them in a bottle or leave them tucked in some place that reminds me of them or that I would share. I feel curiously relieved by that. Also curious as to why that helps but it does.
Any way I don’t know that your cheerful, thoughtful, saucy and caring, fierce and flippant unique persona that comes through even your cute avatar and name are a wonderful and a lot to the fluther community. So to borrow your words cry hard and swim.

bob_'s avatar

Our energy never ends. We just turn into worms and stuff.

SavoirFaire's avatar

“Accustom yourself to the belief that death is nothing to us. For all good and evil lie in sensation, whereas death is the absence of sensation. Hence a correct understanding that death is nothing to us makes the mortality of life enjoyable, not by adding infinite time, but by ridding us of the desire for immortality. For there is nothing fearful in living for one who genuinely grasps that there is nothing fearful in not living. Therefore he speaks idly who says that he fears death not because it will be painful when present but because it is painful in anticipation. For if something causes no distress when present, it is fruitless to be pained by the expectation of it. Therefore, that most frightful of evils, death, is nothing to us, seeing that when we exist death is not present, and when death is present we do not exist. Thus it is nothing to either the living or the dead, seeing that the former do not have it and the latter no longer exist.”

SavoirFaire's avatar

When Chuang Tzu’s wife died, his friend Hui Tzu came to offer his condolences and found Chuang Tzu hunkered down, drumming on a potter pan and singing.

Hui Tzu said, “You lived with her, raised children with her, and grew old together. Even weeping is not enough, but now you are drumming and singing. Is it a bit too much?”

Chuang Tzu said, “That is not how it is. When she just died, how could I not feel grief? But I looked deeply into it and saw that she was lifeless before she was born. She was also formless and there was not any energy. Somewhere in the vast imperceptible universe there was a change, an infusion of energy, and then she was born into form, and into life. Now the form has changed again, and she is dead. Such death and life are like the natural cycle of the four seasons. My dead wife is now resting between heaven and earth. If I wail at the top of my voice to express my grief, it would certainly show a failure to understand what is fated. Therefore I stopped.”

SavoirFaire's avatar

“Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.”
—Susan Ertz, Anger in the Sky

Coloma's avatar

^^^ @SavoirFaire Excellent!

Yes, we arise out of formlessness and will return to formlessness, in the meanwhile be here now. :-)

KNOWITALL's avatar

See, I don’t feel that way about death at all. My perception is that life is Hell and death is Heaven. Peaceful, no pain/ perfect souls of light, happiness, friends and family and pets we’ve loved in our lives, meeting our Lord. Have you ever listed to the beautiful song “I can only imagine”, it makes me cry almost every time I hear it, it’s so good.

From seeing people pass, I can honestly say that the peace of death is what I remember, not the pain of dying or the sadness, especially with my grandpa. It’s just a quick release of breath and it’s over if you’re lucky. Don’t fear the reaper.

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

I fall asleep in the full and certain hope
That my slumber shall not be broken;
And that though I be all-forgetting,
Yet shall I not be forgotten,
But continue that life in the thoughts and deeds
Of those I loved.

Samuel Butler

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep
I am a 1,000 winds that blow
I am the diamond glints on snow
I am the sun on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled light
I am the soft star that shines at night
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there; I did not die.

Anon, 20th century

KNOWITALL's avatar

Beautiful, I love that second one!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@TheProfoundPorcupine @KNOWITALL That is beautiful. It was written by Mary Elizabeth Frye.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Death is before me today:
Like the recovery of a sick man,
Like going forth into a garden after sickness

Death is before me today:
Like the odor of myrrh,
Like sitting under a sail in a good wind.

Death is before me today:
Like the course of a stream,
Like the return of a man from the war-galley to his house.

Death is before me today:
Like the home that a man longs to see,
After years spent as a captive.

—from Dispute between a Man and His Ba (ancient Egyptian poem, c. 2000 BCE)

ucme's avatar

Because it’s a tw@!

Paradox25's avatar

I used to wonder about this myself, and most of my own family and best friends passed on within the past ten years. After researching about near death experiences and other phenomena I’ve become convinced that our minds survive physical death. You’re not getting any poems or sayings from me that treat death as the ‘end’, but I did give you a thought.

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