Death II

I received reactions from several readers noting that in my most recent post, “Death,” I skipped over the most obvious aspect of death—the often unbearable sorrow of those left behind.

They were right about my omitting the devastation of those who loved someone who no longer lives. My post was about the non-experience of death, that is, about death from the point of view (were one to hypothesize one) of the deceased. It paid only passing notice of the sadness left behind. I did that because of my intended focus on death itself, not its effects. Frankly, saying anything remotely intelligent about the grieving loved-ones is a far harder—and monumentally different—task than what I attempted to describe. It was not omitted by accident.

Had I tried to opine on what they found omitted, I’d have quickly been in deep water. Truth is, I don’t know what it feels like. And if I did, I’d be no closer to knowing how to make it easier. There are those who study that sad phenomenon and make recommendations, but whatever they have to say is miles beyond my understanding. Most of us, of course, have experienced or will experience that sorrow at some time. But if one could collapse the time scale, we’d know that the sorrow is experienced by virtually everyone. Those of us it hasn’t visited yet will know later rather than sooner, but ‘know’ we will. Even if I am right about our own death not being experienced, for each of us the death of those close to us is very much experienced.

[Comments on, challenges to, or requests about this or any other posting can be sent to johnjustthinking@bmi.net.]

About John Bruce Carver

I am a U. S. citizen living in Atlanta, Georgia, having grown up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, graduating from Chattanooga High School. I served in the Electronic Security Command of the U. S. Air Force before receiving a B.S. degree in business/economics and an M.Ed. in educational psychology, both at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I then completed a Ph.D. in clinical (and research) psychology at Emory University. I have two daughters and three granddaughters. An ardent international traveller, I have been in over 70 countries for business and pleasure. My reading, other than novels, tends to be in history, philosophy, government, and light science. I identify philosophically as a secular humanist, in complete awe of the universe including my fellows and myself. I am married to my best friend, Miriam, formerly of the United Kingdom and Canada.
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