As a lifelong atheist, I have never been afraid of death. I'm comfortable believing there is nothing afterward.
Now I'm in my seventies. While I enjoy good health, death is inevitable and draws closer every year.
I have lived an honorable life because that's what I chose to do. I have been married fifty years. I have lovely children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that I adore. I haven't accomplished all that I hoped, but I'm not done trying.
I would love to hear from other atheists what they think about death without God.
Are you comfortable facing death?
Do you believe death is final?
Do you discuss death with your children and grandchildren?
What do you tell them?
What are your fears?
How do you want to be remembered?
Thanks for the reply and congratulations on reaching 84, Tom. You must be doing something right. Our experiences are different, but we share beliefs.
Karl, since a friend died recently at 83 I've been thinking on this more than usual. Here goes:
Are you comfortable facing death? Mark Twain said he was dead for billions of years, then he was (is) alive for a few, then he'll be dead for billions more. It didn't hurt before, and it won't again. I agree.
Do you believe death is final? How could it not be?
Do you discuss death with your children and grandchildren? Occasionally, with both. But with the kids it's often practical; with the grandkids (eleven to thirty-four) it's more like Twain's take.
What do you tell them? That I don't want to drag out the inevitable with extreme efforts. That if I'm not enjoying life, then please let me leave it. That I'd probably want to die at home, but not if it'll make my wife (OK, widow) unable to use that room normally again. If she's left alone, take care of their mother. That I'd like to be remembered once in a while.
What are your fears? Funny; I can't think of a one right now. Oh, massive climate change, nuclear war, Trump as president -- the usual global catastrophes.
How do you want to be remembered? A real family man and a pretty good teacher.
Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Jerry. This has been a very interesting thread. I appreciate learning how others are facing these issues we all face.
Am I going to have a death without god? Of course. Never seeing god in my lifetime, why would I think he would show up when I died? Would a death with religious trappings give me more comfort? Not in the least. I just want my death to be without pain and maybe I can also be in some surrounding that is peaceful and known to me.
Bert, knowing you are a bardolater, I won't ask if "mortal coil" is a euphemism for "bedspring".
I don't like the euphemisms, especially if they are soo sugary. I like, "She died!" I wonder if I can find some beautiful linen cloth to wrap me in for burial. Then, bring on the beetles and bugs!
Death without gods?
Yes, and also without anyone's stuffing tubes down my throat.
Several weeks ago I gave my doctor my DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order and it's on my ID card. Because EMT's won't take the time to look for my ID card, on walls where I live I posted the required legal notices and signs with "DNR dammit!" in a three-inch font.
And this: I don't use the euphemism "pass" in place of "die" or "kick the bucket".
Thomas, that is a good idea, DNR tattooed on my chest. My family knows I don't like tattoos, and I suppose that is why they got theirs. Would they not be surprised to learn that I had a tattoo?
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life. (3.1.56-69)
~ Shakespeare, Hamlet
Are you comfortable facing death? No. I don't fear death, but I would rather live on because there are tens of thousands of things I still want to learn and do. Also, if I could explore the universe, I'm sure there a billions more things that I could learn and do. I'm sad that I have to die.
Do you believe death is final? I don't believe anything. I gave-up believing when I gave-up religion. I'm certain that death is final because there is zero evidence to the contrary.
Do you discuss death with your children and grandchildren? I only have step-children, and they are in a strongly religious family, so I don't.
What are your fears? A long lingering painful death, that a religious society might force on me.
How do you want to be remembered? It would be nice to be remembered as the great-grandfather that was the first in the family line to break-out of religious indoctrination and help others to see the truth. Of course, when I'm dead, I won't care how I'm remembered.