There's more to dying than meets the eye

26 posts / 0 new
Last post
cranky47's picture
There's more to dying than meets the eye

Just saw this clip (literally 5 minutes ago) and I found it life affirming and comforting .

The speaker is a death researcher, spends a lot of time around dying people. She speaks of the common experiences of people near to death, of the comforting visions they have, as opposed to hallucinations.

She asked rhetorically 'Are they real?' ,answering "Yes, because they are real to the person experiencing them" I think that's fair enough. Atheist or no, I have no issue with the notion of having pleasant visions as I lay dying.

I don't fear being dead because as far as I can tell, it isn't an experience .It's the antithesis of experience . However, like all mammals I'm afraid of dying, because I think that IS usually an experience -----but with luck,I'll be like a bloke at my mens group. He was 81. Went home after group, to his son and daughter in law. Had dinner, went to bed and died in his sleep. Or my mum ; she had chosen palliative care only, but had a lot of pain. She was put on a morphine pump, floated away and died within 24 hours. I have no way of knowing her final experiences, if any.

So, as the thread title says, there is more to dying than meets the eye,. I am a coward for wanting my dying to be free of pain and emotional distress? El stiffo if I am. I can't refuse to go, or I would. I think I have every right to want my final experiences to be pleasant, or at least free from pain and terror .

AN aside to our resident apologists. My parents both died in care. I got to know a lot of carers over the years. Anecdotally, I was told that it is common for devout believers, including clergy, to die 'badly. Seems there are no guarantees.

Does this mean I suddenly believe in god etc etc? Certainly not, I still do not believe. And I still can't claim to know. I may be wrong.

Subscription Note: 

Choosing to subscribe to this topic will automatically register you for email notifications for comments and updates on this thread.

Email notifications will be sent out daily by default unless specified otherwise on your account which you can edit by going to your userpage here and clicking on the subscriptions tab.

Whitefire13's picture
Beautiful clip! Thanks for

Beautiful clip! Thanks for sharing.

Cognostic's picture
I've always been convinced

I've always been convinced that endorphins kick in during the death process and leave us in a state of bliss. I have been in extreme situations several times in my life and that seems to be the case with me. It may have a lot to do with my training in Zen though. Or it could be that I am a bit weird. Take roller coasters for example. Most people find them scary. I find them extremely relaxing. For the minute and a half ride, I simply surrender (that's the sensation). There is nothing I can do. I just watch as everything happens around me. My breathing slows and so does my heart rate. I could probably fall asleep on a roller coaster. I love the sensation and riding them. To me, they are peaceful.

Tin-Man's picture


Here's something strange for ya. I get really relaxed and in an almost "peaceful" state of mind whenever I hear gunshots/explosions. Very odd, I know. After twenty years on patrol in a city where shootings were often daily events, along with three combat deployments with the Army where mortar attacks and firefights were quite common, one would think I should get wound up tighter than a banjo string around any type of pop, bang, or boom. On the contrary, though, I actually enjoy being around weapons being fired and explosives being detonated.

I suppose that somewhere along the way during my career I somehow managed to mentally condition myself to calm down whenever gunshots and such were nearby. Matter of fact, during my first Iraq deployment, our compound got mortared several times a week. Got to the point where if I were already in bed asleep at night during an attack, I usually just rolled over and went back to sleep. Even now, I love to go outside on July 4th and New Year's Eve and simply sit and listen to all the different booms and bangs. Puts me in a calm and happy state of mind.

As for roller coasters and other such attractions, the more extreme the better, as far as I'm concerned. I absolutely LOVE that shit... *big grin*...

Cognostic's picture
@Tin: If I was a heartless

@Tin: If I was a heartless man made of tin, I could relax during gunshots as well. They kinda wake me up! I have not been around gunshots much. While I have shot guns and tended gunshot wounds, I have never been shot at. I did have guns pointed at me twice. I remember seeing the barrel both times and that was about it. At least initially. Amazing how sharp those barrels appear. I have been a bouncer in a bars and I have worked for an ambulance services as well as in an emergency room. I am really good at just being cool in the middle of chaos. Guns would probably freak me out a bit. At least at first.

LogicFTW's picture
Guns used to scare me, now I

Guns used to scare me, now I just try to maintain a healthy respect towards them. I used to be terrified of the power of someone with a gun could hold over me, then I realized I was worried and scared about something that with just basic planning and foresight could be easily avoided.

Then I realized I am perfectly used to and fine with driving down a highway with cars whizzing by each other at 100+ miles per hour with mere feet to seperate them every single day. One wrong twitch of a finger on the power steering wheel of some large truck, of some bored teenager texting away on his phone, and I will wish I had only been shot at by tiny bullets. I have watched videos of fatal car accidents where, a car and its occupants would almost completely "disappear" in the resulting carnage, chance of survival = zero. Especially a 1 ton car versus a 50 ton tractor trailer.

I however have never been shot at, and only had guns, (held by uniformed police officers,) pointed at me in a case of mistaken identity that was cleared up within a few minutes, where I simply followed instructions given to me.

I have been around a gun range for a few weeks at one point in my life, so I can recognize the sound of gunfire from small arms and rifles. But loud noises make me jump plenty, even though I have no experiences where I actually needed to "jump" into action based on the sound.

Cars still rather terrify me. Wide spread self driving cars, along with dedicated lanes/roads cannot come soon enough. Cars/driving are the most dangerous thing most of us do so perhaps my fear is justified.

Whitefire13's picture
Cognostic...we have that in

Cognostic...we have that in common. I tend to surrender to what is out of my control - plane rides, roller coasters, zip lining etc.
I was once in a baaaddd car accident. I don’t remember the accident itself, but the seconds before. Time slowed down immensely. Every detail became engraved - then I completely relaxed and was totally peaceful. When I woke up the fire/paramedics were already there working on cutting me free from the wreckage. I had no pain except for breathing (my broken ribs) but even that was far from excruciating. Pain didn’t kick in for me until about 4 hours later.

This early experience in my life removed a fear of death. I’ve known about the dying experience and I have been around others who were experiencing it.

qilin's picture
That's one good clip IMO, I

That's one good clip IMO, I liked it a lot - it has rung a couple of bells with me, especially the one of a young Zen monk studying in the States and how he came to terms with the christian 'god concept' totally alien to him - I'll have to look it up...
As for me personally, I'm curious about the dying experience, and wouldn't want to miss it, i.e. dying while sleeping, or all of a sudden - even if I can't tell it to anybody afterwards ;)

qilin's picture
For the text with the Zen

For the text with the Zen monk, I had stored my German translation only, but found the English original in the meantime - can be read in Amazon books, preview of Ishwar C. Harris' book 'The laughing Buddha of Tofukuji", p. xx to xxi - the 'reality' seems to be about the same here as those of the visions of dying people...

Cognostic's picture
I don't know that dying is

I don't know that dying is anything at all to fear. Pain on the other hand is not very pleasant. How one dies may actually be more important than actually dying. That, to me, is why I am a supporter of euthanasia. Death is completely natural, no one should suffer needlessly. Everyone should have a choice.

LogicFTW's picture

Deleted my own post.

cranky47's picture


At work we had three kinds of manager

(1) Regularly walks on water

(2) Walks on water in emergencies.

(3) Passes water in emergencies

Throughout my life I have been pretty much number (3). With the irritating habit of catastrophizing the trivial and trivialising the catastrophic.

Something like this:

Whitefire13's picture
Lol! I love Monty Python...

Lol! I love Monty Python... also a representation of some of the conversations here!

Cognostic's picture
cranky47: RE:

cranky47: RE: "catastrophizing the trivial." Have you heard of the ABC's of Rational thought? It is not "A" the activating event that causes "C" the consequence, but rather our beliefs "B" about "A" that cause us to over react.

Limiting "should, ought to, need to, must, have to, and other absolute vocabulary from out daily usage can have an amazing effect on dealing with all manner of discomforts. "Don't should on yourself."

And Monty Python is TOPS!

Algebe's picture
My father died in surgery. He

My father died in surgery. He went to sleep full of hope that he'd wake up with clean coronary arteries, and that was it. I found myself in exactly the same situation 40 years later and I'm still here.

My mother died but her body carried on living for several years. Dementia took away her reason and memories and left her with fears and paranoia. She didn't know me. She didn't even know herself. I'd hope I die before my mind dies. I hope also that a preacher comes around to offer me comfort in my final moments. I'll tell him that I can see the other side. And the ancient Egyptians were right.

The Japanese have a word "fukojoshi", which literally means dying on top of the belly. It means the death of a man from over-exertion during sexual intercourse. Imagine having that listed as the cause of death on your death certificate.

cranky47's picture
"The Japanese have a word

"The Japanese have a word "fukojoshi", which literally means dying on top of the belly. It means the death of a man from over-exertion during sexual intercourse. Imagine having that listed as the cause of death on your death certificate."

If that were I, the surprise would probably kill me. However, my attitude is the same as my attitude towards the old saw "money can't buy happiness "-----I'd rooly, trooly like the opportunity test the hypothesis .

I've been broke, but never poor. (IE hitch hiking for want of bus fare) In my opinion there are such things as a personal culture of scarcity or plenty. Hence the rich miser and the hoarder. I have always simply assumed I'll always have enough.So far, I have.

My collecting things is due to a mild OCD rather than an attitude of want. This week I bought eleventy two new paint brushes I don't need, on Ebay. Then of course I needed another paint brush holder. I now have four. They look spiffo all lined up with the brushes arranged in ascending size and type of material.

LogicFTW's picture
That saying always cracked me

That saying always cracked me up. This has been tested, the results are in.

For USA, as of like 2015 or something. Happiness rates goes up on income. A direct correlation, the more income, the happier the person was. That is, up to about 80k or so. After that it leveled off pretty good.

So yes, money buys happiness, at least up to a certain amount, then you hit diminishing returns pretty hard.

cranky47's picture


"So yes, money buys happiness, at least up to a certain amount, then you hit diminishing returns pretty hard."

Yeah, to a point. Embarrassing to admit it, but the happiest time in my 12 years of marriage I can recall was a holiday in 1984. Things continuing tobogganing downhill from after that point.

Hedonist heaven; we went to Hong Kong which was my favourite city for many years. Always thought it smelled like money. Five Star Hotel, plenty of spending money, shopped until we had filled our new suitcases. We had taken only cabin luggage, and binned the clothes we wore there The cherry on top was the 711 across the road; beer from all over the world 22 cents a can-

Then it got better-----took a four day side trip into China and loved it

Last stop was the best hotel I have ever stayed in before or since . The five star White Swan on the Pearl river, Guangzhou. We were a small group. The four of we men sat in the posh lounge bar, being served San Miguel by gorgeous women wearing cheongsams, @ $HK5.00 a can (about AU 80 cents at that time)

Guess I was a little bit shallow in those days. Fair enough I say. My very smart wife had the emotional and intellectual depth of a petrie dish.

Bitter? Moi? Why yes actually, why do you ask?

Cognostic's picture
RE: "fukojoshi"

RE: "fukojoshi"

Okay, true story time.
While working for an ambulance company I once went on a call for a probable heart attack. When we got to the residence it was a two story structure with a zig-zag staircase to the second floor.

Entering the second floor apartment, there was a very nice looking screaming lady with wet hair running about and a 350 pound man, balding, and about 6 feet tall, covered in shampoo bubbles, nude with a towel over his privates, lying on the living room floor. He was not breathing. The couple had been having sex in the shower when the man began having chest pain. He had just gotten out of Chino State Prison.

CPR was started, D5W drip started. And then it was time to put the man on the backboard. OOPS! 350 Pound men do not fit on backboards. Bad Idea.

So everyone sat about scratching their asses and wondering how in the fuck we were going to get this guy out to the ambulance.

One of the paramedics had a brain fart and came up with the idea of detaching a door and strapping this guy to it. No sooner did he think of it than the fire department had popped the hinges and placed the door on the floor next to the dying man.

Okay, with the help of all kinds of straps produced by the fire department we managed to strap the man to the door.

Next came the insane venture to the Ambulance. First , getting a door through a doorway involves angling it and allowing the 350 pound man to slip to one side. It took six men to get the door through the doorway.

After that, there was the problem of traversing the zig-zag stairway. "Look Ma! No net!" This door was literally passed from one level of the stairway to another over nothing but air. There was no other way to get the man on the door down.

After the insane acrobatics, the man did finally make it to the ambulance. CPR continued and the Paramedics broke out the paddles. A mad rush to the hospital and that was the end of it.

I am sure the cause of death was "fukojoshi."

David Killens's picture
Another true story.

Another true story.

One late evening around 11:00 PM, there was a hard knocking on the door, it was the 17 year old son of a couple we socialized with. He blurted out that his father had a heart attack, and asked for help. I rushed to their place, he was laying flat on his back in the middle of the living room, no vital signs.

I started CPR and instructed someone to call 911, and the daughter to go downstairs and hold an elevator for when the first responders arrived. It was a weird experience hearing his grunts as I compressed his chest, knowing he was probably dead. And in the end, when they firefighters arrived, then the ambulance to transport, he was dead on arrival, from fukojoshi.

Cognostic's picture
That's the way I want to go..

That's the way I want to go...... :-)

Tin-Man's picture


Personally, I would simply like to go out peacefully in my sleep like my Grandpaw did. Way better than dying all panicked and terrified and crying and screaming like the passengers in the car he was driving as it went over the edge of the cliff at 70 m.p.h.

David Killens's picture
Isn't death strange? Once

Isn't death strange? Once dead, I won't know, I won't care. But the lead-up to death is something that terrifies and captivates too many people.

It is like being informed you will face a horrific beating, spend years preparing for it, only to realize that once it was all over, there was no pain and all that preparation was a complete waste of time.

LogicFTW's picture
Ah fear of death.

Ah fear of death.

Nature, evolution, whatever you want to call it, had to "program" in something to keep us alive until we lived long enough to reproduce a few times.

Especially as central nervous systems in animals evolved to the point that attempting to avoid death via pattern recognition was possible, there had to be something to motivate this behavior or such a useful edge in survival/reproduction would be lost. Hence a hard to explain sense of fearing death.

Cool thing is, with human's astonishingly complex and capable minds, we can free ourselves from this built in fear, and not let such fear control us in negative/unwanted ways.

Healthy fear of things that may kill me early that I can work to avoid? Yes.
Obsessing over my inevitable end, whether it is 5 minutes from now or 5 hundred years? No.

cranky47's picture


My best friend is morbidly obese, weighing 223 kg (490 lbs) according to the industrial scales he has.

One night I received a call from him. He had fallen over in his lounge room and could not get up. I went over and couldn't help him so rang for an ambulance. They arrived within 10 minutes.

The ambos have this contraption . They slipped it under him and turned on a portable compressor. The object ,about size of a single foam mattress filled with air and lifted him to a point where he could stand up. I was very impressed . Silly bugger declined going to hospital.

Yes, I'm aware of elephant in the room. IE that he is a walking heart attack and/or stroke . A 'dead man walking' as they say. What can I do? It's not as if he doesn't know.

LogicFTW's picture
Not much you can do unless

Not much you can do unless you were willing/able to strip some major freedoms from him.

Oftentimes the super morbidly obese (as your friend would fall under) it is not even a question of simple willpower to eat less/better. (mostly a terrible myth to begin with if some will power was all it took we would not have the worldwide obesity problem we have now. As every single obese to morbidly obese person I have ever met were VERY interested and motivated in losing weight but still struggled despite a huge desire (willpower?) to lose weight, and more importantly, keep it off.

About the only thing you can do is not enable him, and perhaps talk to others that are enabling him to stop. (Unless the guy is very strong and young enough to handle the greatly increased strain, you do not get to that size without being enabled one way or another.)

However, today's age of cheap fast food food delivery to your door via services like ubereats, this may well be an impossible task unless you take away all the guys access to money and basically treat him like a young child.

Donating = Loving

Heart Icon

Bringing you atheist articles and building active godless communities takes hundreds of hours and resources each month. If you find any joy or stimulation at Atheist Republic, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.

Or make a one-time donation in any amount.