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How can someone just cease to be?

(24 Posts)
NooNooHead1981 Sun 17-Sep-17 22:58:48

My DB passed away nearly a month ago from bowel cancer. He was only 34.

I am very much up and down at the moment, but coping on a day to day level. What I truly can't get my head around is the fact that someone can literally just cease to be when they are gone... here one minute, gone the next. It just seems so.... final.

I am not really religious - probably more agnostic than atheist to be honest - and the thought of literally just becoming dust and ashes fills me with utter despair, fear and bewilderment. I know we should all be living life to the full etc but it all just seems so pointless in many ways. Obviously, at a basic biological level, we are here to just procreate and pass on our genes, but it seems so futile when people suffer and become ill and then go.

I wish we had more answers. I guess these won't ever be answered really - at least not in our lifetime - but it would make me feel slightly more at ease if I knew we weren't all just disappearing forever at the end. It makes me so sad. I know people live on through others' memories and love, so I use this to console myself when I am feeling really bad.

ladyyyglittersparkles Sun 17-Sep-17 23:00:56

I'm so sorry for your loss flowers
My mums step sister was taken by that awful disease aged 33 💔
She had the gene which made her susceptible to it and had lost her Mum and brother as a toddler, my gran brought her up. It really is an awful fucking disease. Her favourite phrase which was adopted by her many many friends was FUCK CANCER 🖕🏻

greatminds Sun 17-Sep-17 23:03:03

I feel the fear of 'nothing' after death all the time. The only thing that helps is the hope my daughter will have children, then they will also have children and so on. It's such an awful thing to fear and think about.

NooNooHead1981 Sun 17-Sep-17 23:06:20

Thank you both for your replies - yes, it is, and I find myself dwelling on I at stupid times like now when I'm supposed to be going to bed.
I guess if death is anything like before birth, we will not know or care about it. The very thought of annihilation fills me with such awful heart stopping anxiety though, and you're right - passing on my genes is the only crumb of comfort that I find helps too.

sonlypuppyfat Sun 17-Sep-17 23:11:06

When I lost my dad the fact I would never talk to him again was something I really struggled with. And for ages all I could think was how sad I was, but how sad it was for my dad he was only in his 50s

mummyretired Sun 17-Sep-17 23:12:53

Sorry for your loss.
We all change the world every day by the way we interact with those around us. We all leave a legacy, in addition to genetics.
After 20 plus years deceased my husband is still a lasting influence in my life, and I wouldn't want it any other way. X

DrMadelineMaxwell Sun 17-Sep-17 23:13:14

I felt the same when I lost my Dad to cancer.

We scattered some of his ashes into the sea at a place he used to visit, and the thought that they were out there, somewhere in the oceans made me feel much more peaceful about the thought of his being buried in the local churchyard.

I like this reading/poem...

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed.

You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you.

And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly.

SineOfTheTimes Sun 17-Sep-17 23:15:51

flowers losing someone is SO hard.

One thing which I find enormously comforting: matter (and energy) can neither be created nor destroyed. So the molecules that make up our bodies were formed out of smaller particles in stars, eventually become us, and will turn into something different when we die.

As people, we have an effect on others in all sorts of ways, and your brother will go on living in your love for him, in the memories of those who knew him, and in the stories which get passed down.

alltheworld Sun 17-Sep-17 23:17:00

No words of wisdom but when I lost d f I felt like you except I couldn't even really take comfort in the idea of living on in memories. I wish I had faith and a belief in an afterlife but I don't. I often now feel what is the point? But society is set up to insist you keep taking it all seriously. I feel much more aware of death but still have to play along with office politics. Not sure how to reconcile this.

SineOfTheTimes Sun 17-Sep-17 23:18:07

Cross posted with DrM and mummyrocks, who put it much more eloquently...

flowers

RosemaryHoight Sun 17-Sep-17 23:20:41

I'm so sorry for your loss flowers

My sister died when I was 34, she was 35.

I'm not sure about answers to big questions. It does get easier, but I still have moments where I wish we could talk again, they don't make me feel so sad now.

Namethecat Sun 17-Sep-17 23:22:37

I'm sorry for your loss. You are still at the very beginning of the bereavement process and are perhaps still in denial - which is completely normal. Look up the stages. I lost my mother to bowel cancer as well as 3 other family members. Be kind to yourself, do what you can when you can and don't be afraid to cry.

ShoesHaveSouls Sun 17-Sep-17 23:25:52

I know, OP. It is so so hard to come to terms with this thanks

ParkheadParadise Sun 17-Sep-17 23:31:39

I also can't get my head around how someone can be here and then gone before you know it.

My DD walking out the door and I never got to see her again. 2yrs later I still expect her to walk in.
I have to believe she is with my parents, and I will get to see her again. The fear of nothing after death haunts me.
Sorry for your lossflowers.

echt Mon 18-Sep-17 09:47:01

I am thorough-going atheist and still wonder where my DH "is". I think for me it's because he died suddenly. No goodbyes, nothing, just gone. Cut down in the midst of health, work, love, ambition.

He's in our memories, and when the last person who remembers him dies than he will be gone.

Someone will come along soon I hope, with what Brian Cox said about space time theory saying that everything we did and do is till out there, still happening.

I am unbearably moved by Philip Pulman's "The Amber Spyglass", when the ghost of Lee Scoresby allows himself to disentegrate to join Hester:

"the last of Lee Scoresby passed through the heavy clouds and came out under the brilliant stars, where the atoms of his beloved dæmon, Hester, were waiting for him."

BusterTheBulldog Mon 18-Sep-17 10:06:12

I'm so sorry for your loss. flowers I also feel the exact same way as you do, this thread has bought some comfort from others experience though.

flowers

LuckyBitches Tue 19-Sep-17 12:40:06

I can't get my head around it either OP. I still talk to my brother all the time. A part of me believes that he can hear. He was abroad when he died and I think he's still overseas. it's when I don't get a birthday card that I actually know he's gone (not that he was good at sending them in life!).

I would describe myself as agnostic - I just can't believe that there's nothing after this life, even if that doesn't make sense. I've reached the conclusion that life and death and the universe make so sense anyway, so I may as well believe whatever is the most comforting. The idea that this is all for nothing makes no more sense to me than any religious philosophy.

NooNooHead1981 Tue 19-Sep-17 13:06:39

It doesn't make sense - any of life - in some ways. The randomness of it all and how it all juts fits so perfectly together 'by chance' makes me think that there may be something else out there, yet as no-one has proven otherwise, it does seem very unlikely at times, and more that it is just some massive event that happened by chance.

Has anyone ever seen the film Pi? It is all about how the world and nature is based on the principles of mathematics, and how everything can be explained by patterns and numbers. So anything you look at - be it a leaf or a rock, can be aligned or compared to shapes in maths, even if it isn't obvious. It kind of makes me think that things might have some greater design that we don't realise or know about, but again, it is so hard to say or be sure.

Fosterdog123 Mon 02-Oct-17 19:41:33

It all makes my brain ache quite frankly!! It's the big unanswered question of life. I believe in nothing after death. I was with both my mum and dad when they died and it was just like a light switch flicking off and then...... nothing. I have no wise words. I'm still at the heaving gulping sobbing stage, even a couple of years on. It's just too bloody weird that they were alive - real living people with lives, who watched tv and had favourite food and now they're simply not here and don't exist and I too one day will no longer exist either <brain explodes>.

gassylady Mon 02-Oct-17 19:50:28

Can't think what he poem is but "all that remains of us is love" memories to share and laugh over. And all the energy and particles clearly. I know where your coming from struggle that very few other remember my lovely man any mote

echt Wed 04-Oct-17 08:31:12

gassylady, it's "An Arundel Tomb" by Philip Larkin.

Thank you for remembering this, it's lovely:

Side by side, their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habits vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
And that faint hint of the absurd—
The little dogs under their feet.

Such plainness of the pre-baroque
Hardly involves the eye, until
It meets his left-hand gauntlet, still
Clasped empty in the other; and
One sees, with a sharp tender shock,
His hand withdrawn, holding her hand.

They would not think to lie so long.
Such faithfulness in effigy
Was just a detail friends would see:
A sculptor’s sweet commissioned grace
Thrown off in helping to prolong
The Latin names around the base.

They would not guess how early in
Their supine stationary voyage
The air would change to soundless damage,
Turn the old tenantry away;
How soon succeeding eyes begin
To look, not read. Rigidly they

Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths
Of time. Snow fell, undated. Light
Each summer thronged the glass. A bright
Litter of birdcalls strewed the same
Bone-riddled ground. And up the paths
The endless altered people came,

Washing at their identity.
Now, helpless in the hollow of
An unarmorial age, a trough
Of smoke in slow suspended skeins
Above their scrap of history,
Only an attitude remains:

Time has transfigured them into
Untruth. The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.

Vitalogy Wed 04-Oct-17 19:31:46

Sorry for your loss, I understand.
I like these two poems:

Ascension

And if I go,
while you're still here...
Know that I live on,
vibrating to a different measure
--behind a thin veil you cannot see through.
You will not see me,
so you must have faith.
I wait for the time when we can soar together again,
--both aware of each other.
Until then, live your life to its fullest.
And when you need me,
Just whisper my name in your heart,
...I will be there.

"Ascension"
Copyright ©1987, Colleen Corah Hitchcock

Vitalogy Wed 04-Oct-17 19:36:36

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy is created in the universe and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, ever vibration, every BTU of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid the energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point, you'd hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off you like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue in the heat of our own lives.

tinymeteor Thu 26-Oct-17 15:30:57

These poems are very lovely. We lost a friend to cancer recently and I'm struggling with the same thing. Feel like I should somehow still be able to ask her what she thinks about it all. It's unfathomable that all her wit and determination and complexity is just over.

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