January 28, 2012

What happens when we die?

I lay in bed at night watching my wife sleep. As tired as I am, my mind churns over unanswerable questions. It fights the darkness of sleep that robs me of valuable time left. I could physically sleep all day, but my mind wants me awake to enjoy every minute. Dianne sleeps the sleep of the caregiver. Exhausted, afraid, worried about me and worried about what will become of her without me. We are as close as two people can be and I want to be with her every minute. I look at her all the time. Sometimes it spooks her. I wonder if I will ever see her again after I die. This is the most tangible aspect of the question of life after death for me, but the answer to that lies within the answer to the broader question.

As I've described before, I have chosen to believe that we are a part of the greater Spiritual Universe and, when we die, we rejoin it in some way. But in what way? Certainly we don't just rejoin a blob of nothing. The lights just can't go out, can they? There must be something more. In the same way that I choose not to believe we are the only intelligent species in this unknowably huge cosmos, I choose not to believe that our exceptionally short time in this physical embodiment is all there is in the infinite river of time. Like I say, I can't prove any of this, but I find it reasonable and comfortable to accept this viewpoint.

Up to now, this has been sufficient for me because my actual death was far enough away that I didn't have to worry about it as much. But now that it is uncomfortably close (even with all the uncertainties) I need to know more. I need to have some idea of what is waiting for me. I don't want to be laying on my death bed, scared senseless that the lights are going out. If they did, I wouldn't even know it, but that doesn't matter. That's rational thinking and there is no place for rational thought on the death bed. I need a belief. I need something.

Now I have already said that I can't believe in the classic view of the afterlife proposed with such certainty by the formal religions. Whether it's pearly gates and angels or twenty virgins, the certainty alone makes them suspect. I don't believe things just because they were written down many years ago by mortal men who were still alive. I have much respect for people who do believe in the literal interpretation of these texts, but I choose not to.

So what happens when we die? Whether we retain some degree of individual identity or become some part of an amorphous existence, the real question - the important question - is whether we retain any sense of our individuality and/or our former existence on earth. If we reincarnate back and forth, as some believe (including Buddhists), do we retain memories of all of our previous lives? Will I remember Dianne and my life with her or not? I realize there are many questions here, but I have no answers for any of them. I will say this, though.... if I am reincarnated, I will not worry too much about who or what I come back as. Not now. There is no possible answer to this that I would find comforting or more feasible than any other. Maybe it's just me, but I am most concerned about the moments of existence (if any) after death rather than the moments after that existence. Does this make any sense? If I were to simplify things, I suppose I just want to know that there is more than nothing when my life here is over. That's all. Is that too much to ask for? Yeah, well, I guess so.

I have already received some help in this. There are many people who have had near-death experiences (NDEs) who have related events that happened to them after they have presumably died and before they returned to life. I have met some of these people. I have read some of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' writings on this and I have been loaned many books on the subject which I intend to read. Over the next few weeks and months, perhaps these will give me some ideas which I will share with you. In the meantime, here are some initial thoughts to kick things off.

Some people with NDEs recount an afterlife that looks exactly like the visions of heaven that are taught in the christian bible. When I hear about these, I think of dreams and how they are fictions formed by extracting memories and images stored in our brains. Anything we have "seen" in a dream, we have seen in real life, have visually imagined, or have possibly even seen on television or the movies. So someone who has been brought up with visions of heaven reinforced time and again by parents or preachers or teachers could very well have a dream-like vision in that gray area between life and real death. If every NDE was the same, I would be more likely to accept it, but that is not the case. But there does seem to be some similarity in NDEs amongst many other people, so perhaps there is something in that.

I think I will stop here for now and read some and let my mind mull over what I've heard to date. If you wish to share any of your own thoughts, you can provide a comment or you can email me directly. Just please don't be offended. We are all entitled to our own beliefs. Right?


PERSONAL UPDATE

I have not been doing that well lately. I don't think there is a time when I really feel good. If I'm not sleeping or ready to fall asleep sitting up, I feel ill and often very anxious. I'm trying some new meds to help with this, but they haven't helped much as of yet. I probably have around 5 or 6 "good" hours during the day when I'm not sleeping yet still feeling "crummy", however you want to interpret that word. I think this is mostly the cancer advancing but I don't know still how fast this will happen or how long I will have. I can only go by how I feel and I feel worse now than a month or so ago. I'll keep you posted.
Doug

17 comments:

Kath said...

Thinking of you Doug.
Tough to deal with big questions when you feel "crummy".
If a community of well wishers helps,... then I add my love and thoughts to the communal hug.
Kath

Alex Greene said...

I'm still following your posts.

When you close the fridge door, what happens to the light?

When the bulb goes out, the diminishing spray of photons emerging out from the cooling bulb continue their outward journeys across the short distance through the atoms in the air, spilling out into the room, impacting on the opaque matter of the walls of the fridge, the room ... you ... and then they are absorbed.

Some of the photons are reflected, which is why you see things and colours in particular: but ultimately, most of the light gets absorbed into the surrounding matter, where it adds its tiny bit of momentum to the atoms' vibration.

The few photons that escape through the window vanish into the night, maybe to begin their journeys out across the void forever.

We are fields of information. The one thing about us that distinguishes us living things from inanimate rock and water and air is the information we all generate. All of us, from viruses through the the ecosphere of Gaia itself. We cannot not generate information: it is what makes us alive.

We are an intricate, overlapping field of information that interacts to generate this information spraying out of us; and when death takes us, as individuals the capacity of our bodies to sustain that field suffers permanent, catastrophic collapse. The information we generate ceases; but like the wave of photons emerging as the lightbulb goes off, it all gets absorbed into the surroundings - the ecosphere, enclosed by the Earth's magnetic field. And Gaia harvests a little more information about the world through her little sense organs, the humans.

In a way, put yourself in this place, where you imagine the field of your data merging with this greater field of data, where it will mingle with the generating fields left behind by Archimedes and Marie Curie and Einstein, Gandhi and Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, all melding together like two lumps of different kinds of bread dough being kneaded together to form a loaf of hybrid bread that has the features, tastes and textures of both, plus its own unique flavours and textures.

Just as you enrich the world in life, so you will continue to enrich the Gaiasphere in death - both from your permanent record of your life and from your merging data fields and all the information you let loose upon the world, flying in all directions, forever.

I hope this helps.

Bob B. said...

I think Alex and Kath are both very wise people.

Some years ago I ended up with a video tape of a deceased friend exercising his horse. It suddenly occurred to me that there was really no particular difference between him being dead or being alive but very, very far away.

The universe is what we experience and we go on experiencing things in our memories long after the original "now" has passed.

Good luck with the meds and keep doing your best to "be" in the present moment. That's all the wisdom I can offer.

Communal hug contribution included.
- Bob.

Lizzy Miles said...

There is beauty in the mystery (IMHO). Doug, I am so grateful that you are sharing your deepest thoughts with us. I read a lot more than I comment, and I expect that you have more readers out there than you realize.

I certainly don't know what happens after we die, but from my hospice work, I feel pretty comfortable in saying that you will have help from both sides during the transition.

I have selfish hopes that you will be able to continue to communicate what you experience... but you may be focused otherwise.

You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Doug said...

Lizzy. Many, many thanks!
I would appreciate some additional insight into your experience. Private email is fine: doug.gosling@gmail.com
Doug

Anonymous said...

Hey there! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for
this site? I'm getting fed up of Wordpress because I've had problems with hackers and I'm
looking at options for another platform. I would be
great if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.



Also visit my blog :: busco mujeres

Lin Shijun said...

shijun 7.6
louis vuitton outlet
white timberland boots
louis vuitton outlet
abercrombie and fitch outlet
kate spade diaper bag
michael kors outlet
ralph lauren uk
michael kors outlet
gucci outlet online
timberland outlet
nike air max
kobe bryant shoes for kids
longchamp outlet
coach outlet online
adidas running shoes
jeremy scott adidas
toms canada
oakley frogskins
coach outlet store online
abercrombie
ray ban sunglasses
michael kors outlet
oakley sunglasses
coach factory outlet
celine luggage tote
christian louboutin outlet
air max uk
ray ban sunglasses
coach factorty outlet online
michael kors outlet online
jordan 11
true religion outlet
coach factory outlet online
christian louboutin sale
prada bags
insanity workout
louis vuitton handbags uk
louis vuitton
cheap beats by dre
hollister outlet

Lin Shijun said...

shijun 7.6
longchamp handbags
michael kors
coach outlet store online
michael kors outlet online
michael kors outlet
coach outlet store online
oakley outlet
jordan retro 5
fitflops
abercrombie
toms shoes outlet
fitflops
fitflops outlet
ralph lauren outlet online
louis vuitton handbags
abercrombie store new york
louis vuitton outlet
ray ban glasses
louis vuitton
ray ban sunglasses
ralph lauren uk
gucci
hollister co
abercrombie outlet
hollister outlet
christian louboutin shoes
burberry sale
dior outlet store
air max 2015
michael kors outlet
longchamp
polo ralph lauren
oakley outlet
coco chanel
kate spade outlet
juicy couture handbags
cheap ray ban sunglasses
michael kors outlet
ray ban wayfarer
replica watches

mao qiuyun said...

stuart weitzman boots, http://www.stuartweitzmanoutlet.us/
ray ban sunglasses, http://www.raybansunglassesonline.in.net/
black friday deals, http://www.barbourjacketsuk.co.uk/
louis vuitton handbags, http://www.louisvuittonhandbags.org.uk/
nike trainers, http://www.niketrainers.me.uk/
oakley outlet, http://www.oakleyoutlet.in.net/
lululemon outlet, http://www.lululemonoutletstore.in.net/
roshe run, http://www.rosherunshoessale.com/
soccer jerseys, http://www.soccerjerseys.us.com/
cheap mlb jerseys, http://www.cheapmlbjerseys.net/
replica handbags, http://www.replicahandbag.us.com/
north face jackets, http://www.thenorthfaces.in.net/
louis vuitton outlet, http://www.louisvuittonoutletstore.name/
hermes birkin, http://www.hermesbirkin.org/
kobe bryant shoes, http://www.kobebryantshoes.in.net/
replica watches, http://www.replicawatchesforsale.us.com/
hollister uk, http://www.hollistershirts.co.uk/
ray ban, http://www.occhiali-rayban.it/
prada handbags, http://www.pradahandbagsoutlet.co.uk/
the north face clearance, http://www.thenorthfaceclearances.us.com/
cheap nba jerseys, http://www.nbajerseys.net/
ray ban sunglasses, http://www.ray-bansunglasses.eu.com/
tory burch outlet, http://www.toryburch.in.net/
beats headphones, http://www.beats-headphones.in.net/
air max 2014, http://www.airmax2014.net/
cheap nfl jerseys, http://www.cheapnfljerseys.org/
montblanc pens, http://www.montblanc-pens.com.co/
michael kors outlet store, http://www.michaelkorsoutlet-store.us.com/
1010maoqiuyun

Zhenhong Bao said...

calvin klein outlet
louis vuitton outlet store
michael kors outlet online
oakley sunglasses
cheap jordans
prada outlet
michael kors outlet store
coach outlet canada
lebron james shoes
true religion jeans
michael kors outlet
pandora jewelry
swarovski jewelry
longchamp outlet
mcm backpack
tiffany outlet
air max 90
cheap mlb jerseys
swarovski outlet
michael kors handbags sale
michael kors outlet online
discount michael kors handbags
cheap nfl jersey
nike roshe run
cheap mlb jerseys
cheap football shirts
michael kors online
michael kors outlet sale
beats by dre
nike air max
michael kors outlet
air jordan shoes
ray ban sunglasses
mbt shoes outlet
cheap nba jerseys
20160301baozhenhong

John said...

louis vuitton handbags
ray bans
ray bans
ray ban sunglasses
louis vuitton outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses
ray ban sunglasses outlet
michael kors bags
michael kors online
louis vuitton outlet
louis vuitton outlet
canada goose
louis vuitton
kobe bryant shoes
ugg boots
replica watches
michael kors outlet
ray ban sunglasses
louis vuitton
fake watches
hollister clothing
abercrombie
jordan 3
michael kors outlet
michael kors outlet
nike free run
ray ban wayfarer
tory burch outlet
true religion jeans
canada goose outlet
ray ban sunglasses
2016323yuanyuan

Anonymous said...


Jordan Aero Mania

Jordan Capitán América

Jordan Flight los Hombres de alimentación
0401

mmjiaxin said...

oakley sunglasses
michael kors handbags outlet
replica christian louboutin
coach outlet online
Michael Kors Outlet Store
http://www.cheap--jordans.us.com
http://www.jordansforcheap.us.com
michael kors factory outlet
http://www.michaelkorshandbagsclearance.com.co
chrome hearts
http://www.oakleyoutlet-store.com
michael kors outlet online
tiffany and co jewellery
http://www.cheap-airjordans.us.com
nike kobe sneakers
michael kors handbags
http://www.raybanglasses.in.net
chrome hearts online store

cheap jordans
gg

Eric Yao said...

Ralph Lauren Outlet
Ugg Boots Sale UGGS For Women Skechers Go Walk Adidas Yeezy Boost Adidas Yeezy Adidas NMD Coach Outlet North Face Outlet Ralph Lauren Outlet Puma SneakersPolo Outlet
Under Armour Outlet Under Armour Hoodies Herve Leger MCM Belt Nike Air Max Louboutin Heels Jordan Retro 11 Converse Outlet Nike Roshe Run UGGS Outlet North Face Outlet
Adidas Originals Ray Ban Lebron James Shoes Sac Longchamp Air Max Pas Cher Chaussures Louboutin Keds Shoes Asics Shoes Coach Outlet Salomon Shoes True Religion Outlet
New Balance Outlet Skechers Outlet Nike Outlet Adidas Outlet Red Bottom Shoes New Jordans Air Max 90 Coach Factory Outlet

xumeiqing said...

20170221meiqing
nike roshe
cheap mlb jerseys
true religion jeans
coach outlet
adidas uk
rolex watches
ray ban sunglasses
valentino
mbt shoes
ralph lauren

龙大猫 said...

atlanta falcons jersey
nike mercurial
adidas nmd
true religion outlet
adidas stan smith sneakers
michael kors
nike air huarache
cheap jordans
adidas ultra boost
michael kors outlet

dong dong23 said...

coach factory outlet
diego costa jersey
michael kors outlet online
polo ralph lauren
fitflops sale
fitflops sale
oakley outlet
coach factory outlet online
michael kors handbags
stan smith adidas
2017.5.4chenlixiang