In many ways, I’m obsessed with death. I’m working on a book about suicide, I love horror movies, and frequently am consumed by stories about dying. Soooo…Here’s another one!
This week, Lifehacker shared a truly fascinating story about what it feels like to die. Written by staff writer Patrick Allan, the story is a fairly standard look at the scientific feelings associated with what it’s like to finally exeunt the planet. It’s really interesting! “Dying is a process,” Allan writes. “One where there are a lot of gray areas because there’s still a lot we don’t know.” That makes sense! Dying is something no one comes back from to explain. Of course it would be a nebulous field of understanding!
Yet, the article quickly shifts from the process of dying and how your senses dull to something altogether dreadful. “Right when your body starts to flat line, your brain does its best to prepare your consciousness for the jump to the great beyond,” Allan writes later in the story, detailing how your brain copes with your descent. This, friends, is where I went from “Cool! Science!” to existential dread, to staring into that abyss of “Well…we all die but…what does it mean when we eventually fade to black??” and then I started to free fall and closed the tab and Googled penises.
My question for you: can you read the entire article for me? I try skimming it but keep free falling into this dread. It’s not sadness, it’s not confusion, but it’s some sort of ebbing of the mind, an attempt plant a flag of meaning into an endless puddle. It’s not so much fucked up as it’s too big for me to comprehend. The idea of dying and being dead isn’t scary but it’s that idea of the dropping and dropping and dropping, to be in darkness, to just “not exist” that is so strange to me. Intellectually, I know that’s the case. I know that the idea of a heaven or “after life” or something beyond is highly unlikely as a person who believes in science and is a recovering Catholic. I’d love to put my life’s eggs into the basket of living a life beyond this but, really, that probably isn’t the case. This “one shot chance” is truly scary, that you will never have the chance to kiss a loved one or hug a dog or eat good (or bad) food or write anything ever again. It just stops.
That’s why I couldn’t finish the story: it kicked up too many questions and too much dread. Perhaps I need to talk to my therapist about this or perhaps I should take on some enlightening practices like Buddhism to help me cope: I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m itchy to read this other Lifehacker story titled “You’re Going to Die, Here’s How to Deal With It” but I have a feeling it will make me feel worse.
Anyway. Have a great weekend! Stay alive!