Mortality frightens me

All too often, in the various atheist groups I belong to… the subject of death rears its grimacing skull. It seems that the general consensus is that we should not fear death. After all, you won’t know when you’re dead, because you’ll be dead. But I fear it all the same.

Perhaps the reason is that I accepted the idea of an afterlife for so long? I don’t know, but it seems to me the one thing common to most religions is the idea that death is not the end. They don’t all believe in a heaven or hell, but a soul and some kind of afterlife is the norm. I suppose it’s an oversimplification, but the fear of death must be a large part of what drives people not to question their beliefs. It didn’t work like that for me – seeing that so many religions had a similar concept, I did not find it logical to conclude that there must be some truth to that concept; but rather that there must be something about us that leaves us wanting to believe.

I look at some of the female movie stars I adored so much 20 (or so – I’m not counting) years ago… Women like Neve Campbell, Fairiza Balk, Denise Richards… the list goes on. Look at them now. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying that more mature women are less attractive – it’s just that I prefer looking at the women. (You know!) Us men age just as badly. What I am saying is that age is a sign of our bodies wearing down as the cells no longer repair themselves properly, a sign of impending death and decomposition. And that, the inevitability of death, gets to me.

I do find the lengths that we go to, to “confirm” our beliefs in the supernatural, to be highly amusing. Some might say that the common belief in ghosts is evidence that life goes on after physical death. It isn’t. Take a movie like The Conjuring… In it, Ed and Lorraine Warren’s faithful assistants, even the pseudo-skeptical one, run around capturing the ghosts and demons on film. (I’m remembering the second movie, I think.) Then that can be used as evidence by the church to determine whether or not the case is genuine… Meanwhile, in reality, no such evidence of the supernatural exists. Instead, we have people who impose supernatural significance of their existing beliefs on natural phenomena (or people like the real life Warrens who exploit the gullible for profit), and then those stories, the ones where the subject of belief is accepted as true despite no supporting evidence, are the ones that get written down. And then, those stories are further embellished for movies. They may be horror movies, but in them is a little gem of hope, “confirmation” for the faithful that they will live on after physical death.

And on the subject of horror, I find that the stories without a supernatural element to be more frightening – those that don’t promise us life after death but instead feature a human antagonist and gruesome death. I wonder though… Is my fear of death, despite being an atheist, common? Or is it unusual? I doubt it… I mean, one of the reasons to hang on to irrational beliefs may well be fear of death, but just because I realize the reality of the situation does not mean that fear goes away. If anything, the fear is more threatening to me since I don’t have the false comfort of belief in an afterlife.

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Peace and quiet… But this time I don’t like it?

I’m sitting here alone, reflecting on how funny things work sometimes. My life is so busy… Every day is a routine: Work (sometimes after gym), then get home tired, help Josh with his homework – and lately he’s a difficult child, straining my lacking energy and patience… Then go to bed, generally quite early, and repeat it all tomorrow. I’ve been complaining that I don’t get time for myself, longing for peace and quiet. Now I get some and I’m, like… What the fuck to do?

We had an unpleasant surprise earlier in the week. On Wednesday before work, I dropped my mother off for her routine checkup and the hospital. Then at around 11:30, she called me to tell me that they had picked up a problem. Her blood haemoglobin was at a level of 5, when it should be around 13. She needed a blood transfusion, but didn’t get one. Instead she was sent home with medication, and had to return on Friday.

So I returned her there at 6:30AM on Friday, and she was admitted. She seems to be doing fine now, after being given 350ml of blood, twice. But I was worried. I’m not sure when she will be released.

Also, my son is sleeping over at his aunt and having lunch there tomorrow. So I got that peace and quiet I wanted. Be careful what you wish for? It isn’t what I imagined. It got me thinking, wondering what I would do, how I would cope, if my mother died. And I don’t know.

I don’t have the energy to cook, when I get home from work, and I certainly can’t afford to eat out every day. I often take her for granted, call her a burden – and she is to some extent – she shouldn’t be here. But she also helps out quite a bit. Having to do little things like the washing this weekend, reminds me how much I have been leaving to her. If she were to die, besides having to deal with grief, it would be difficult for me to do all that I need to do. I’m not at all sure how I’d manage. As it is, I did the washing too late today, and both sets of my gym gear are wet. I’ll have to hang it up first thing in the morning, before anyone else takes up all the shared washing lines. And how would I manage that in the week? All washing must be taken off the lines by 6PM, and I’m not always home from work by then.

Anyway, I’m sure she will be fine, but this was a grim reminder that I’m not completely in control. I hate not being in control. It reminds me of the old days when I was ruled by and at the mercy of my addiction. It seems, so far this year, that nothing works out quite as I plan or hope. I feel like I’m being carried by some tide (not an intelligence like a god or higher power, but more like the random chaos of the universe) and I don’t like it at all.