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Showing posts with label death. Show all posts
Showing posts with label death. Show all posts

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Dead Bodies

On two occasions I have seen dead bodies.

The first time was when I was an engineering student at university. I was "smuggled in" to the room in the medical school where they dissected corpses. I wore my white lab coat. This was the first time I had ever seen a dead human body. Reaction? The corpses looked like meat. It was hard to believe these were once real people with emotions, happiness, sadness, good times and bad times.

The other time was in 1987 when my dad died. I saw his body in the mortuary. He was cold and lifeless. My overriding memory was that the essential "him" was no longer there. It was like a chrysalis shell. Now, those who have a faith will say he lives on in another form. I just do not know. I wish this was true.

Death remains a mystery to us. It is a taboo subject.

Saturday, 22 October 2016


Perhaps this is something that comes with old(er) age? If I am lucky I might have another 20 years, or I could die tomorrow. The only thing certain in life is that we all die, some far too soon.  The great religions of the world all speak of some kind of life after death.  The truth is we just do not know.  Some with great faith believe they have the answers. I prefer to accept my doubts.

I do not remember anything before I was born, so eternal "nothingness" is possible. I guess all humans hate to think in terms of finality. The best ones are those who can accept life as a gift and to live their lives fully. Some argue that without a life after death we have no real moral compass.

In the end I am agnostic - what will be will be. All the major religions seem to strive to understand the ultimate question. One day we will all know the answer.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Our mortality

This has been mentioned here before. 

Currently I am 67.  As we get older, I guess we think of mortality more and more. With not having been well for 2.5 years I guess you think about this even more, knowing that it is likely you will die before too long. It could be next week or it could be in 30 years. It comes to us all.

No-one really knows what happens. Maybe it is just to dust that we turn, even though most religions talk of an afterlife. We knew nothing of before we were born so would nothingness matter?

I guess no good is done by worrying about this. It all depends on individual consciousness. Does anything exist after our bodies turn to dust? What is the nature of that thing we call the mind? One thing is certain, we have small brains and the mysteries of life are great and mostly beyond our understanding.

Life after death? Honestly I think  no-one knows.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

What happens when we die?

As one gets older - I am now 67 - I suppose thoughts naturally turn to the end of life. It comes to us all, but we prefer not to think about it.

I honestly have no idea and the most likely is we'll not be aware, as we were before we were born, so it may not matter.  MAN has a real problem with finality, and nearly every religion has talk of life after death. It bothers me that some are so certain about this. At the moment I have an open mind. Like so much in this universe, or even multiverses, we really have no idea.

Monday, 16 November 2015


This remains a total mystery. Many religions talk about "life after death" and who knows? With talk of multiverses who knows, maybe the universe is unique to us only and everyone else experiences something different. Maybe what we experience when we die is a total absence of life, much like we before we were born. The only thing we can say with any certainty is no-one really knows.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Wanting to die?

At one time I could never understand this.

I have had the after-effects of a stroke for 2 years now and these last few days I have had a nasty stomach bug. Right now I feel truly "shite".  I really ought to go back to bed.

Although I am sure I'll soon feel quite a lot better, I can understand how some people, when their bodies are old and exhausted, just "throw in the towel" and say they have had enough of life.  Some patients with very high pain levels must feel like this. This is sad, but now I understand.

No doubt tomorrow I shall feel much better. Onwards and upwards. There is still a lot of living to enjoy in me yet!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Stroke - thoughts

Maybe I am being unduly maudlin, but since my stroke almost a year ago I have thought about death a lot.

There is every chance that I will, given time, make a near full recovery. However, I have been far more aware of our short span and "dust to dust, ashes to ashes".  I have no idea if we survive death in some form or other. Maybe death is like before we were born - we know nothing about it. Maybe there is something. I'd like to believe that when I know I am about to die I shall be at  peace with the world and with myself. Hopefully this will be many years in the future. It is just that I nearly died a year ago and this colours one's views.

Death is not far from any of us. We normally prefer not to think about it and our finality.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Tragic Death

Today, we heard that the son-in-law of one of my wife's old school colleagues has sadly died of cancer leaving a wife and a little girl not much older than our grandson.  Despite knowing this was on the cards, it must be a terrible shock.  The husband who died was 30s or 40s only.  He has been ill for some time.

My heart bleeds for the little girl, who is delightful. She came to play with our grandson last year. I pray she will cope OK and still remember her dad as she grows up. That poor little girl. She is too young to have to cope with this.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The cycle of life

May 1st 2012 was quite a day.  Just after midnight my niece gave birth to her first child - a baby girl. At around nine o'clock my own daughter-in-law gave birth to our second granddaughter - little Lucinda, shown here.

Later in the same day our wonderfully kind and helpful neighbour David, who had been fighting cancer for many years, lost his battle and died at home at around 5 pm.

So, in one eventful day, two new lives came into the world and one departed. Such is the cycle of our living, brought poignantly to our attention this week. Let's wish the little newcomers a long and happy life and David, rest eternal, either in another life on another plain or as part of nature's way of returning life to life.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Our Mortality

There was a very moving article in The Times yesterday about the last days of Philip Gould, Tony Blair's architect of New Labour. Philip died of cancer and wrote a book about his dying to be published shortly. The account in The Times was written by his daughter and describes his last few days of life and slide into death. I was moved to tears reading this.

In the last few months several people I know have been affected by cancer and have died as a result, or are still battling against it. As a result I have been reminded of my own mortality as in the famous poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins:
Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By & by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep & know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
When my father died I saw his body in the mortuary. It was cold and lifeless yet my abiding memory of seeing him in this state was of a soul that had flown: the essential him was no longer there, yet I felt the real dad was not gone forever, but somehow released like a butterfly on the wing. My little grandson, just 4 years old, talks about us going back into the universe. Dust to dust? Who knows.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

And all shall be well

This afternoon I visited a colleague of mine known for over 40 years. We go back a long time.  Today John lies in a hospice bed in Cambridge, his life hanging on a thread, his body racked with pain from prostate cancer that has spread to his bones and vital organs. He is now on a continuous drip that helps to reduce his pain. His wife is the model of calm as she sits at his bedside, knowing that his life on planet Earth has just a few days or weeks to run.  We talk about "the old days". We mention a few names. We talk about trivial things. He slips into light sleep then wakes again. He is in pain.

And yet he is calm and ready.  John, his wife and their family have a strong faith and believe that he is being held and loved by a far greater power and love. He says calmly in a quiet voice, "I'll go when the Lord calls me".  His faith is utterly grounded and sure, with not a shadow of doubt. Oh to have such a strong faith, a belief that this is not the end, just part of our journey. 

Which brings me to the closing lines of T.S.Eliot's "Dry Salvages" from his Four Quartets:
"With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. 
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always —
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one."
And all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Death in a Multiverse

My religious views oscillate from being a theist to total atheist and back again. Of late, my views have been changing partly as a result of reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, which I found an absorbing and honest book.

Nonetheless, I am still basically open minded when it comes to thinking what happens when we die. I am not a believer in Father Christmas, tooth fairies or heaven as such, but I do think that the universe(s?) we inhabit are barely understood and our place in time puzzling. In a multiple universe all things in all time may be possible so who can be sure that this one life of ours is "it"?  The very existence of each one of us is a miracle of coincidences and chances over a period of billions of years: just one sexual coupling missed, or one chance meeting of two people missed, in all that time and you or I would not be here at all. Can we even be sure that we are not living some kind of dream?

So, when we finally drop down dead will we just cease to be? Or will we find ourselves in another universe as someone or something else, even perhaps reliving the very same lives but choosing different paths at the critical moments when we went in one direction and wondered what would have happened had we chosen differently?