The reason why older members are so unhappy, they know they will die you are not special...
Faced with the reality of mortality
I'm with you stuckinarut. This is the one thing that messes with me pretty bad after leaving the cult two years ago. As someone else said, I'm not afraid of being dead, as I've been there before I was alive. I believe that may be a Twain quote. I don't look forward to the pain or even the medical issues that will one day come. I hate doctors and am squeamish.
When I go to bed at night I am often plagued in the silence by thoughts of death. It is one way where the cult really messed me up. Again, what gets to me is not the fear of being dead, I just don't want to have to say goodbye one day. I don't want to say goodbye to my wife, that crushes me, whether it be myself or her that goes out first. I don't want to have to see her go through pain either. I truly bought the cult's promise hood, line, and sinker. I was promised permanence and I expected it. Now that I'm out I realize that everything points to impermanence from the seasons to the breakdown of everything around me. I like that the Buddhists seem to teach impermanence on the whole.
So yeah, I struggle a lot with this. It honestly dominates me more than I would like to admit. When I was a kid my grandpa told me that we were going to the circus and that we'd have a ball. When he showed up without a ball I was devastated. So I always had a tendency to really buy in and take things word literal. Obviously not so much now, but my whole worldview was based around that filthy cult's teachings. It's in my head and the death thing is the one thing I can't seem to shake. Turning 40 a few months back didn't help, and I've only been out of the cult for 2 years now. I'm sure that I'll figure out some way to accept it better later, but this bothers me more than anything since I've left.
When I was young, , I had a feeling of invulnerability. that life would go on despite the odds I put in it's way, 13 motorcycle mishaps, landing outside the airport. skateboard speeds that can only be braked by bushes.
Now, body parts failing one by one, two already replaced, in defiance of "kingdom" promises.
Dying might be good for the human race, novel genes, ideas to the front. Most old people, even JWs seem to go satisfied, naturally tired, old in years.Never have heard an older one openly recriminating about not living on, not in that shape anyway, had some lucid ones joking though.
To be honest Stuck I'm not sure in the west that the society we live in prepares any of us for death. I don't think it's just that religion that's failed us I think society in western countries generally shrinks away from anything to do with death.
I have so far only been able to comfortably talk to an ex-colleague about my father-in-law dying last Thursday without getting a weird reaction and I think that's because she's Chinese.
If you look on this forum there is a thread about a humanist funeral from yesterday I think and most people have avoided it.
We have lost so many family and friends this last ten years, my daughter has been to fourteen funerals and she's only 22. Is there anything taking the place of religion for atheists like my daughter and myself to turn to for comfort in my country (UK)? Not in our experience.
Stuck it's a good question of how we cope with the prospect of death after being led to believe the highly improbable tale that we are not going to die. This religious con-trick has enormous traction because at some time early in life we all awake to the horror of being conscious that we die. (Like the Catholic Church knows; a good moment in life to get religion!)
The Victorians coped with death by exposing even young children to the constant funeral rituals of their community, today we distance ourselves from death or make a joke of it at Halloween.
For JWs it is like we were given a cheque for ten million pounds but now we find that it was issued by the bank of toy town. The prospect of everlasting life was an illusion in the first place in fact I heard on the radio this very morning that scientists have drawn the same and rather obvious conclusion from a biological perspective that there is little prospect of a scientific revolution to create immortality.
I think the point is not to go hunting for an immortality substitute but to quickly come to terms with recognising that there never was a prospect of cheating death in the first place.
To have awoken from this conceit puts us in the category of those who have intellectually grown up and recognised the value of making the most our short lives-- because this is all anyone can do.
We may be living longer, but we're also dying longer. We're now having to live with sicknesses and conditions which would have ended our lives rapidly over a century ago. Death can be a release for the relatives as well as the sufferer, especially for things like Alzheimer's, which took 6 years to finally conquer someone very special to me. Live life, and love each day as far as you are able. Be as good a human being as you can be. Best summed up in this:
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Stucky - How have you all coped with facing the reality of our mortality?
I have become virtually a reluctant nihilist.
Things seem so worthless. I don't want to die but it all seems so pointless because I know I will....and it's a permanent sleep with no dreams.
I see people as chasing their tails. Politicians are a joke. All we strive for is a waste of time.
I want to believe in a wonderful afterlife but the evidence.....................................................darn!
I am having a really hard time.
Since I am well into middle age and have lost so so much, its not like there is much time to get any of that back. The back end of life is rapidly approaching.
I am having a hard time dealing with it:(
I see things kind of the opposite of punkofnice above. For me my brevity here on this earth imbues MORE meaning into this life that I have. This is it and I want to make the most of it.
Additionally, I see life today as that magic I always looked for in the promised future. The odds that the sperm and egg made me, that there was a successful birth, that I made it out of childhood, didn't kill myself in a car wreck when first driving, that I didn't commit suicide when I wanted to in 2008 because of this awful cult, that I made it to 40, etc.... are the things I try to focus on. They keep me grounded and present. It's hard to be grateful and miserable at the same time.
And yet I still struggle with that eventual goodbye that will come.
Beautiful heartfelt comments everyone! Thanks for sharing.