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Old 03-01-2009, 07:01 PM
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Death

Okay...I hesitate to post this...I don't know if this thread is going to be considered a trigger for some...so if it is, please remove it, mods. Please stop reading folks if this is an uncomfortable subject for you in any way.

























I've been thinking a lot lately about atheism...my existence….and how I’m becoming more comfortable (to a point) with death…my death. It’s making me think about my drinking…and how everything in life comes down to a choice…and that no matter what I do I’m going to end up dead at one point or another.

I have an idea of what it will be like. Much thanks to Greta Christina and her wonderful blog on this subject…she talked about how going under for surgery is probably a lot like how dying will be.

I went under once for a minor surgery….I can remember being told to count up from one…I don’t think I made it to three….some time later I woke up alone on a bed…shivering uncontrollably. It wasn’t like going to sleep, that’s for sure. Now…I only have a memory (not really…) of blanking out. I believe that when it happens for real I won’t know right when it’s coming, even if I know it’s coming…and of course I won’t know that it did happen because I’ll have no consciousness left to be aware. I really don’t think there is an afterlife…so I’ve been feeling lately that it doesn’t matter what I do at all...like life is one huge exercise in futility. This is dangerous thinking, but I don’t know how to turn it around into something positive.

This is a huge reason why relapsing has been on my mind. It’s not the only reason, but it’s an important part of it. I’ve wanted to post about this one for a while…this will probably get removed…but I don’t know who else to talk to.

My question is this, obviously to the atheists: How can you cope with the understanding that you have on existence and be positive in recovery and in life? I need help.
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Old 03-01-2009, 07:09 PM
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If we all die anyway, why do *anything*, Bam?
Life is the technicolour bit between two poles of blackness - if we waste that?

Dunno about you but I've wasted enough.

D
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Old 03-01-2009, 07:22 PM
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I am not an atheist so perhaps this will mean nothing to you.(it's okay-I promise not to talk about God or an afterlife)

It's all too easy-when life is hard-to think-well f*** it-I'm going to die anyway, so what's the point?

The point is-regardless of an afterlife, the fact is you're HERE! So why not make it the best life it could be?

None of us know how long we have here.I could get hit by a bus tomorrow.But I need to find some meaning in every single day and I'll tell you this much.My best, most cherished moments in my life, have always involved helping others-not focusing on myself.When I've made someone laugh, or given a bit of advice....it's simple things but they all add up.

I understand wanting to die.I wanted to for several years.But I realised killing myself, or drinking myself to death(a later choice) was ultimately selfish.Sometimes we find our happiness, a reason for being here, in stepping out of ourselves.

The best thing I ever did in the midst of depression was volunteer to be a DJ at the local hospitals childrens wards, for their inhouse radio station.It made me so aware of how lucky I was to be alive and in giving to them?I got a million times back.Being around children who may not live to see another year gives you a reality check like you wouldn't believe, and a new appreciation for what you have.

Maybe you need a focus outside of your own life?I dont know.

I just feel for you.I know things can look very bleak at times-but don't give up.You're worth more.
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Old 03-01-2009, 08:00 PM
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My theories and opinions on death change often. Just today I was thinking about the very subject of your post--how I deal with death as an atheist.

Before I was born I was nothing. Before I was born there was no pain, joy, ecstasy, boredom, agitation, whimsy, curiosity, etc. I believe death will be very much like before I was born. I do not fear the time before I was born. Why should I fear the time after I die? I know it is necessary for me to die. The greatest selfishness is wanting to live forever, to believe that I am so important that I must not experience the most humbling moment of human existence--my own death. Because there will be no afterlife, I believe the life I have is precious, and that all life is precious. If the atoms had rubbed together in just a slightly different manner, I would be an earthworm right now, and then I'd really have something to complain about, wouldn't I?

Each morning I watch the sun come up in the window while I'm still in bed--a truly beautiful sight--it starts as a tiny orange glow, like a campfire burning on the top of the hill, and the fire spreads until the treeline is bright as a jewel and then the orange spills into the pale sky and as it rises it glows brighter and brighter until the bright spot in the sky hurts my eyes if I look at it for too long, so I get out of bed and start my day.

I think death is like that--it's a marvelously bright spot, but not meant for us to look at for too long. More of a reminder that we need to get out of bed and start living.
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Old 03-01-2009, 08:07 PM
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RE: "I really don’t think there is an afterlife…so I’ve been feeling lately that it doesn’t matter what I do at all"

When I start with the "death thoughts," I think, well if I want to die or if there is no after life, I am a d*** fool if I don't enjoy what I am doing RIGHT now, work or play.

I just don't "enjoy" using. It makes me sick. So I need to come up with some new things to enjoy.

I'm really broke, but I've started to save for vacation, on a beach somewhere--far, far away, but to be enjoyed in this life.

Thanks for your post.
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Old 03-01-2009, 08:22 PM
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I'd like to think we never die. Sure the physical body expires, and where our spirit goes after that, well, that discussion doesn't belong here.

Personally I believe we live on forever in the hearts of our family and friends. Of men and women whom we have been able to pass the gift of recovery on to. Our legacy is what we have left for others, after we pass on. Not that I plan on checking out soon, but I often ask myself how I would like to be remembered, often this motivates me to take action that I otherwise wouldn't.
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Old 03-01-2009, 08:46 PM
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I'm going to fishing heaven when I die and I'm gonna catch a bunch of big ones.
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Old 03-01-2009, 09:07 PM
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I bring meaning into my life. I am not concerned with death, other than it is expected and a natural event...I accept it. It is for me the final act of letting go...a release...a completion from the creation of birth to the expiration of my cycle.. my life cycle.

As for what may be the the unanswerable questions about the after life. I see all that a desire to remain awake when sleep is called for. A denial of the inevitability of natures way. A wish to hold on to what was as an eternal memory.
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Old 03-01-2009, 09:20 PM
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i cannot say for certain that there is a god.. and i cannot say for certain that there is not.. i only know a little i learn a little more each day!
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Old 03-01-2009, 09:48 PM
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If there is no after life..if this is all there is...honestly that is what makes it so precious...that is why i love life so much. I think homer wrote some good lines about how the gods were jelous of humans for the "sweet poyinacy of human life" something like that.... scuse the spelling problem.

it's the very impermenance that gives life it's beauty...sorry if i sound silly, but i think about that alot....and crp it is part of what makes me want to be sober and what gives me hope that life matters.....it isn't just a peice of something ...it is the whole deal!

No matter how imperfect it is...or i am...wow the fact of now other existiance is what makes it matter so much!

It makes me love life......
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Old 03-01-2009, 10:11 PM
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When I worked with hospice ....
2 things impressed me about death.

Regardless of financial circumstances
each person ended up in a bed wearing a gown.

At the memoent they died....the body seemed to deflate.

Lesson for me...
Money does not matter at the end.
Enjoy the life force that fills you.

For me...that is living sober.


I'm expecting my death to be the beginning
of a different addventure.
If I am mistaken....:brick:
Living in recovery has been fantastic.
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Old 03-02-2009, 03:14 AM
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I'm interested as to whay you think that your death is bound up with the big questions, like whether or not there's an afterlife.

I spent lots of time obssessing about my death, terrified about it. I could tell you a long story about the birth of my first child, and how I became terrified that I was going to just - pop my clogs! when s/he came out. I remember my therapist at the time saying to me, completely straightfaced - "Paul, I think you'll find that, statistically, it's the woman who's more at risk during childbirth".

Here's one of the things I learned in AA and I think it's a pretty universal principle. Pride ***** people up. "Pride" is a medieval word used to describe a particular "sin" - but my belief is that the medievals were just trying to describe some behaviours that they noticed had some things in common. "Pride" is a description of self-importance - or maybe better stated as "self-obsession". So there are people who have a terrifically overblown sense of themselves - whether of their "rightness" or their "wrongness". You know, they either think they're terrifically wonderful or they're terrifically awful. The problem is that they thnik "terrifically" about themselves - in fact to the point where they become isolated from other people because they're not able think past themselves. Grasping this particular truth is one of the many leaps that Bill Wilson made when, in his desperation, he was conceiving of the programme of recovery in AA. Pride, egotism, self-obsession, whatever you want to call it, is our problem.

This is a long winded route back to this - for each of us, our individual deaths are significant. But they're not significant. In the great scheme of things, they're not important at all really. But to us, they are of course of primary significance, since without them we don't have anything at all. So - we arrive at the first question of western philosophy - which is not, as so many seem to think, "what's the meaning of life?". Too cerebral - no, the first question of philosophy was "how shall we live?".

Your death, my death, anyone's death - is not significant. And yet it's monumentally significant. The first step in recovery is to gently pull our heads out of our own arses and ask "what next?". So - well done. You've arrived. Get over the afterlife BS. It's a jerk-off waste of time. You patronise religious people when you presume that they have it easy because they believe in an afterlife. They live and dream just like you - alone. Only difference is they may - may - have found more purpose in their life. Time for you to get over this and find out what you're meant to be doing between now and the day when it all ends. And I'll tell you this. I lived in drink for many years. But I also lived in fear, not least of all fear of death. Now I have what is described in the BB as an "appropriate level" of fear - in other words I suffer from fear when there's good reason to do so! Apart from that - no, hardly any fear on a day to day basis. Thinking about that - wow, what a gift it is not to live in fear all the time. So thanks for reminding me.
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Old 03-02-2009, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Rob B View Post
Personally I believe we live on forever in the hearts of our family and friends. Of men and women whom we have been able to pass the gift of recovery on to. Our legacy is what we have left for others, after we pass on.
I'm with Rob.. And have been thinking about this lately some.. There is something so precious about this life - I know I was wasting it when I was getting wasted.. Maybe it will only be a tiny something living on, like the compost we make in our garden, the street trees I planted in San Francisco over the years (when I see them grown I get goose bumps), my daughter and her life that I share blood with; my step daughter and her two kids who I share no blood with but lots of life experience and love..

In sobriety I feel intentionally tender toward the world - that is just the feeling. I think I was more careless before when drinking.. I just wish kindness in our lives and the lives of all.. all beings really.

Spent the day at the new Academy of Science in SF last week and came away kind of heartbroken about the animals in small spaces - this is supposed to be a state of the art facility and there are amazing animals from all over but so many are cramped into small spaces.. That is not ok! (I am going to write to them).

Anyway, I don't know what will happen as our lives moves on - as we age and expire from this earth.. For me the challenge is to live today lovingly and consciously and in support of people and systems that take care of the earth and its beings..

thanks for this thread and all the posts from everyone.
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Old 03-02-2009, 11:41 AM
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Bam -- I wonder if part of this is your disease talking?
Just a thought.

I hope today is a good day.
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Old 03-02-2009, 12:48 PM
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I have been avoiding this thread but I was thinking along the lines of PaperDolls.
I think it is a sneak attack by your addictive voice.
I would add my opinion about death and what comes after but it is rather shallow and selfish and I don't want to be berated because I am sensitive so I will politely decline.
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Old 03-02-2009, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by paulmh View Post
You patronise religious people when you presume that they have it easy because they believe in an afterlife.
Oh...well excuse me! That's not what I was doing at all. Peace out.
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Old 03-02-2009, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by paulmh View Post
Pride, egotism, self-obsession, whatever you want to call it, is our problem.
Not everyone would agree with that. Most peop's on this forum would probably wouldn't.
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Old 03-02-2009, 03:26 PM
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Every little thing we do has some effect, from smiling when you say hello, to holding the door for someone. The effects may not be long lasting-but you affected *that* moment, a moment that will be gone forever. So, even if you believe your own life is meaningless, you're either contributing to that moment in time or not.

To me, the fact that we're all unique means our lives are worth something. No one else thinks exactly like you, reacts the same, or has the same knowledge base and experiences as you. So, in that capacity, no one else can provide to the world what you can... thats your "meaning" to the world.
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Old 03-02-2009, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by paulmh View Post
Get over the afterlife BS. It's a jerk-off waste of time. You patronise religious people when you presume that they have it easy because they believe in an afterlife. They live and dream just like you - alone.
Paul -- I assume you didn't mean to be rude here but I'm not sure what you mean by it.
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Old 03-02-2009, 03:53 PM
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My thoughts on death being imminent means that we have to value each and every moment.

Life is a journey, don't waste it, the final result is death. I hate to quote scripture, but there's one somewhere that says 'time stands still for no man'. I want to live my life with that in mind, each day that goes by is one day closer to the death, so what have we done with it, do we really want to blank that one day out with drinking or using.

I have lived 12 years of my life in a blur, chances are that's a sixth of my life, what a waste considering death comes to us all.

I like the Buddhists meditation philosophy on death, if i'm not mistaken they live their life that death may occur today. Lets face it one day they will be right.

So, rather than fearing death, embrace it because it is going to happen, it's what you're going to do in the mean time that counts. And if we leave the world a better place than we found it, all the better, thanks for your thread.

Just my thoughts

Paul
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