The BBC have been pumping out a lot of stories about death this week, think it might be national dying week or something.
It started with the annual poll of death related issues from the “Dying Matters Coalition” published by Comres
71% of the population think we feel uncomfortable talking about death. I can’t help feeling that some of this is down to some of the ridiculous theories of death propogated by some religions. I heard someone on thought for today on Radio 4 saying that we don’t really know what happens when we die. Of course we do – our concious self ceases to exist and our physical self decays or is incinerated.
Death is an end of us as an entity although we remain as a memory in the minds of people who knew us (until they die) and also as, for and for an increasing number of us, a redundant page on facebook.
Obviously the idea of ceasing to be is a frightening one and talking about it a bit morbid. All that we are and have been will be no more. However death can also be a release, the end of the struggle which is life and for many when the time comes it can also mean the end of pain. It is true that we find these thoughts difficult to express and the acceptance of death, despite its inevitability, seems like defeatism.
However I see life and conciousness as a marvel. We are made of the same stuff as the mud, stone and rivers. A collection of atoms, forming molecules, molecules forming cells and cells cooperating as living beings. Death will bring our personal end but our components (I know this sounds a cold, technocratic phrase) become part of the life around us. We are not reborn but we reform to be part of existence. We re-enter the rocks, the air, the waterways, we become part of everything which is this planet. Our lost ones are in the trees, the fields and the hills. Most things we see have been a part of previous life and will continue to be part of future life. This is not mysticism or religion, this is science and for me there is little more full of wonder than scientific truth coupled with our ability to understand it.
Our life may be fleeting and ultimately without meaning but it is still wondrous and awe inspiring.