How do you feel about your end of life scenario? The reason I am asking is because things I have seen with my own eyes. I work in an ICU, and I see people kept alive when they have conditions that would end in death if not for medical science. And I'm not talking about a temporary condition that will resolve. I'm talking about someone who has cancer in every system in the body. Or end stage respiratory problems, kidneys, etc. I have also done this in my personal life, kept someone on life support when I KNEW better.

More Americans are living with chronic diseases than ever before, due to advancements in medical science. From app. 90 million in 1995 to 120 million today. Conditions that will not get better. Do you want everything done to "not go gently into that good night"? Or are you willing to let nature take its course?

This is not talking about euthansia, death committes, or such. Just how you feel about it for yourself. And if you've made a promise to a loved one. Can you stand strong, or let your fear hold onto you? Thanks.

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This good topic is timely for some of us. 

I agree especially with David Philip Norris and Tony Carroll.

I have so much to write---major books to finish and others to start and finish because the research is largely done---that I need to live into my 90s to achieve this. As long as my brain is functioning, I want to stick it out---even if it has to be like Stephen Hawking, except that my problem (prostate cancer, in remission thanks to the excellence of medical research) is minor compared to his. 

Important to me is to complete a very full autobiography, for the benefit of my descendants---particularly the unborn ones of future generations. I wish that family members from among my ascendants had done this.

The other matter is to ensure that my funeral is performed as I wish. I am a man of the chalk downs of Wessex. My known ancestors of 350 years are all from Wiltshire villages close to the Neolithic stone circles of Stonehenge and Avebury. Thus, most of my genealogically traceable ancestors of these centuries were buried in the sub-surface chalk rock, which means that their bones and grave goods will survive for many thousands of years. I am asking for the same. My DNA is I1b2a which suggests ancestry by post-Ice Age hunter-gatherers who travelled into Britain when Britain was attached to mainland Europe. 

My wife and I and one of our daughters will be buried in a natural woodland cemetery that is highly suitable for atheists. We have reserved our spots. 

Thank you, Dr. Meaden for your thoughts. That connectedness, that common thread, that makes us feel like we belong, is priceless. It ultimately connects all. I'm from mostly Irish stock, which means we probably share some DNA in common, yet we are thousands of miles apart. What a glorious species we truly are. These end of life issues seem important to us and our ancestors, as we find funerary scenes thousand of years old. Our personal choices illuminate and inform us. I would be extremely proud if 5,000 yrs. from now, some archaeologist [preferably a student] were to dig me up. If I did have a soul that survived, I could see myself smiling. Thank you, sir, for your thoughts. Peace and long life.

Yes, indeed "we find funerary scenes thousands of years old."

In archaeology we encounter the bones of Neolithic people perfectly preserved in the Wessex chalk. If I am dug up in many thousands of years time, there will be a sealed lead casket to open too, its contents a time capsule of the period in which we are living. 

As for the funeral I have recently decided how it should end--the only bit so far prepared for my children to do: thus

‪Play,  "May the Long Time Sun Shine Upon You"

My favourite is sung by Snatum Kaur---hers is a golden voice.


"May the longtime sun shine upon you

All love surround you

And the pure, pure light that's within you

Guide your way home."

So play this first (4 minutes)


followed by this as the mourners walk away and disperse



Thank you for that. Wonderful choices. Never heard of Snatum Kaur before, but now I know. Thank you for bringing her to my attention.

As for me, I'm somewhat irreverant. My two must have songs are" O Fortuna" by Carl Orff and Monty Pythons "Look on the Bright Side of Life", which I want everyone to have a copy of the lyrics and sing at the close of the funeral. A sing-a-long. I want them smiling as they walk away.

Carmina Burana is my favourite choral work, and O Fortuna tops it.

No way, man.  In Taberna Quando Sumus and Were Diu Werlt Alle Min, all the way.


We played the whole thing in Wind Ensemble.  Those two were the best.

I still remember the first time we got to the part at 1:42 in 'In Taberna Quando Sumus'.  One of the Euphoniums stopped and just shouted out, "POLKA!!!"

We played some of this in high school and college. Great stuff. But the saxophone parts were transcribed in, as they were minimal in the original.

Off topic slightly, but I preferred Aaron Copeland, who actually wrote parts for the saxophone. Don't know if it goes with a funeral, but wouldn't 'Appalachian Spring' be glorious for a sendoff.

Still want Monty Python, though. Thanks for responding Joseph. Really appreciate it.

Because I had 3 family members die of cancer within 3 years and my wife has had cancer 3 times I went on a rampage to find out what the hell is going on with all the disease and it turns out it's all preventable because of what people are eating. Somehow society got the notion to keep pushing people into being carnivores and because of all the meat and dairy products we now have rampant cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc. I've mostly been "vegetarian" all my life until I actually looked up the real definition and then read about all of this and then went right to being vegan after finding out all this information especially about the brainwashing done in advertising of how anything is good for you if a company says so. They're out to make money no matter what. That's sad. Not every company certainly. Meat and dairy are just acid foods we're trying to jam into alkaline bodies not to mention the damaging processed foods. Lots of evidence for being healthy and looking youthful well into hundreds and just dropping dead of natural causes for vegans and I'm experiencing all kinds of that evidence in my body and in my life (my wife too).

And training is the same; just information being passed down from one doctor or nutritionist to the next without people questioning. The biggest and most important lesson I've learned is "who am I taking advice from?" and "question EVERYTHING". Not just religion, but food too. Everything. I've been studying religion, nutrition, quantum physics, psychology, law of attraction, and everything else along those lines for almost a decade now and seeing the world in a whole new light I wish I had seen a long time ago. One of the most important things I did in all of that studying was taking responsibility for my actions; which includes everything in my life. I'm responsible for it all. Everything that happens to me and everything that doesn't. I accept that because I've seen hard evidence for it. I looked at religion and finally saw it for what it was; just superstitious garbage handed down because of lack of education and peer pressure not to mention the greed and power struggle part of it! LOL I looked at nutrition and found the same thing going on. Greed, power struggle, and misinformation. Doctors running around like gods telling people they're going to die when it's just not true. They don't know. Saying things are "incurable" when they really mean their drugs won't help. The majority of diseases are caused by what people eat. Try to tell most people that. LOL You'll get all kinds of responses from denial, to not caring, to disbelief, to anger, etc. Whatever. I still like helping people but I try to choose more carefully now and only offer info in someone is actually interested in a solution in their life instead of just bitching and whining. According to Abraham-Hicks/law of attraction we all make things happen in our life with our minds. Makes sense and I've seen lots of things happen with this train of thought as well although not everything I had hoped for. But it is interesting when someone says something is going to happen whether "good" or "bad" and it does happen. Like when someone actually believes their doctor and says they are going to die, they have basically made up their minds they are. And the people that say they are going to live and actually mean it and only concentrate on living usually do. A belief is just a thought a person keeps thinking after all but most of us tend to make them out to be much stronger than that don't we?

I'm very glad we invented the internet to get information going all over the world and hopefully soon everyone will have access. Life is an illusion, the world is an illusion, we seem to be some kind of spiritual (for lack of better word) being inside of physical beings that are walking around doing things supposedly for the experience of doing them. The holodeck on Star Trek TNG actually did a good job explaining it. I'm still studying and still questioning; wish I had all the answers....I'll keep studying and stop rambling for now....

I think that's the essence of atheism: Taking responsibility for your life, and not abdicating to some "higher power" or deity. Of course, there are certainly atheists who abdicate responsibility in other ways, and we all do it. But this is a great exhortation to be more responsible. I have been a strict vegetarian for nearly 10 years now and don't regret it at all.

Speaking of cancer, I just saw an article on Facebook this afternoon: Does this ring true with what you've researched? 

You're supposed to be a freethinker and able to trust science. Even given that science is incomplete, there is abundant evidence from all over the world that early humans were meat eaters. We were evolved to eat meat. Why do you think there are pictures of animals all over the Lascaux caves and elsewhere?

The people who tell you that meat and dairy cause cancer are not taking into account that perhaps there are pollutants in ALL our foods, including vegetable foods (ever hear of pesticides?) and in our air, and changes in our lifestyles (do YOU walk to work?) that may be contributing to the diseases you mention. You are trying to take complex problems and looking for simple answers, and it just doesn't work. No, the scientists have not found all the answers, but at least they're looking for them in an honest way. And some of what they're saying now will be proved wrong (remember "healthy" margarine?). But I'm willing to wait for their answers, and meanwhile operate on incomplete information, rather than accepting snake-oil screeds from people who merely want to get rich.

Interesting question, Tony. I haven't looked at the question from your perspective before.

For myself, I prefer that for as long as my mind is viable, I would like to live as long as there is quality of life. If, however, my mind is gone, I don't care. I won't be there either way.

But if I were to experience a "long good-bye", I would want quality of life to prevail in my decision-making process. If I know that the end will be ugly and difficult, I won't wait for natural causes. If the choice is taken away from me before I know it, I have no choice but to rely on my loved ones to carry out my wishes, which are explicit.  My husband (theist) knows what I prefer and will carry out my wishes for me, despite his theism. He, fortunately, feels the same way as I do about end of life decisions. Its almost funny that his theist upbringing and "survival of the fittest" mentality just happen to fall into line with my preferences on this subject.

The unfortunate thing for others not so prepared is that their families often disregard "living wills" because they can't take the emotional pain of letting go. This, to me, is selfish. I certainly understand it, but in my mind, my loved ones count on me to do as they have asked. Letting go is ultimately for the benefit of the loved one. How can we withhold that final truth of love?

 Thanks, Ivy. I agree with you. But as the saying goes, reality bites. And sometimes painfully so in a situation such as this. Yes, they are being selfish. But as you said, it is understandible. Most ultimately come around for the benefit of their loved ones, but I have seen it turn out that family members have not spoken afterwards. Period. Never again. Very sad, and upsetting to all. It truly diminishes all it touches.




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