Monday, June 29, 2009

Good day

No new agnostics showed up and I a not sure how I could find what they had written.  This is all very complicated for me and I hope to master it so I can exchange with fellow non believers.  Went to the local atheist meeting last night and dropped off my site information in hopes that some other non-believers will find this site and add some information.

I am having a good day so far with minimum pain and maximum optimism.  I see my therapists for the first time since the final decision was made so I hope I can pick up some "path to serenity" ideas from him.

Still looking for some ideas from agnostics on  how to handle dealing with dying and avoiding the supernatural.



  1. Hi Bob,

    I did not get your phone number or address at our meeting last night, as you had to leave early. Several of us at the meeting would like to visit with you sometime.

    Please email me your phone number and address.

    Take care
    Jim Hong

    James Hong
    Jackson, MI

  2. Hello Bob,

    I have but one suggestion. Unfortunately I am very young (18) and therefore have little experience with life or death. I am certainly interrested in your mental process though. My only thought about my eventual death is that I want to have loved, and it seems from inference that you have.

    My suggestion is this: Richard Dawkins said one thing he was going to make sure to have done during his last days is have some sort of recording devise available to make sure nobody said he converted in the end. It is common for religious people to make this lie. I don't know, maybe that would not bother you, but its what I thought about.

    Caring atheist, David E Hufnagel

  3. Needless to say I am very sorry to hear about your health condition. I would choose exactly what you have and will, if that time comes for me: palliative care path of hospice.

    Have you been able to find a hospice you like? I surely hope so, as they are there these days, which I know from my experience in 2003 with my 49 yr old brother, Cliff. He lived here for seven months and it was astounding for him and our family:

    I am so glad you are addressing this issue of the lack of "non religious" caregivers and etc. Luckily, we never had to address that issue with Hospice of Lansing. My brother simply made his choices clear and he was left alone in that way.

    For myself, life is all, not "after" this life. I actually resent it a lot when I here the phrase "they've gone to a better place." How insulting to this beautiful creation we get to live in and on, for however long we're here! Why must there be anything "better?" This is "heaven", in my view, but because of so many centuries of concepts, that is hard to see, hard to embrace. I include myself in that as well; it IS hard at times to accept that this life is "it" but I do believe that and at times, am able to feel the reality and beauty of it.

    I would be honored to communicate with you in any way you might choose. Whatever our interaction, I wish you the very best and as I always told my brother, we are still here so neither one of us is "luckier" than the other simply because of a diagnosis. I would tease him, and of course it's true, that I could easily go before him in a zillion ways and that as long as we were both breathing, the playing field was even; we both had the same opportunities to enjoy, admire, appreciate and even hope.

  4. Hello Bob,

    A friend at Think Atheist mentionned your story. And I was touched by your condition. There's a little bit of my story that I'd like to share with you.

    Two years ago I was diagnosed with Myelo Displastic Syndrome, a precursor to an almost incurable variety of leukemia. I spent the first year contemplating my impending end (in about two years). I had to consider everything I held dear ans see how I had to detach from my "possessions".

    Then, through an incredibly string of lucky events, a highly compatible bone marrow donor was found and even though I was two years older than the usual age limit, and was a smoker, and had suffered a heart attack ten years before, I was offered the procedure.

    While waiting for the right timing for the transfusion, which took about 6 months I had to ponder the fact that during this procedure, in the second or third week, I had 50% chances of not surviving, and the fact that if I survived I had roughly the same odds for surviving the next 100 days.

    I can say now (having survived and having been pronounced cured) that I have become somewhat familiar with death.

    During the two months of complete isolation that were required by the bone marrow transplant, all my notions about life and death and the absence of absolute meaning for existence fell into place. I reconciled myself with the finality of death: only one lifetime, no pre-life, no afterlife, no immortal soul, only one life, this one. It crystalised into (among other things) a steady conviction: I won't survive this Michel Poisson and must grab all opportunities for enjoyment, and indulge.

    Even though my life is now complicated by the fact that my 32 year marriage is currently terminating, that I may not be able to find a job and might have to live very modestly in the years to come, and might have permanent sequels, I look wide-eyed at my uncertain future and think of my accomplishments, trying to avoid bitterness at my failures.

    I also try to gather and retain as much happy memories of the present as possible for my last hours of lucidity.

    So Bob, that's who I am and how I live.

    I think that being bereft of all beliefs in the supernatural and afterlife, I'm also free of guilt and the uncertainty of a "jugement". Which I find now makes my life eminently more livable.

    I can only wish for you this "lightness of being" that came upon me (a big load lifted off your shoulders). And hope that you will remain lucid as long as necessary or as suits you.


    My page at Think Atheist:

  5. I heard you atheist and cancer. Investigate the genuine source of Islam. Time is reduced. Trust me.

  6. Bob,

    I can only admire you and hope I'll be as consistent as you are, in hard times. You're searching for suggestions, I'm sure you'll find plenty of them (that's what Internet is), but most people will actually be looking at you for answers, including me.

    Please don't get confused by belief mongers/vultures, I'm sure you and your lifestyle will outlive them.

    I happened to another blogger, who is a non-religious person (I'm not sure about her choice, could be agnostic or atheist), diagnosed with cancer of a milder type. She uses her blog to communicate with others, writing about her daily life, friends and family, going on with what she used to do. I believe this is a better way, you never know what tomorrow will bring, and that's the exciting part. Of course, it's easy for me to say. BTW, Sorry that the blog is not in English, so I can't recommend it here.

    Thank you for what you've just done, I think your search for a better way to deal with this is more noble than a prophet's, teaching masses how -not- to deal with it.

  7. Bob,

    I don't think there is anyone that completely understands what you are going through. But there are many that have come close through similar experiences.

    I'm an atheist and so was my father. He died nine years ago. I was fortunate enough to be able to say goodbye to him and for him to pass on a little of what he learned in his life. And I'll pass that on to my children. He would say to me that he might be a little fearful of dieing, but he wasn't afriad of be dead. He imagined it as being as it was before he was born. As a teen he studied to be a priest. He was an brilliant man and from a young man to death, he was a non believer. He was and is my hero. Truth mattered most to him even when the truth was uncomfortable.

    I recommend the book or video 'Last Lecture'. And you will find many like minded agnostic and atheists on youtube (you'll have to do some searching to find the ones you identify with best). I can post some if you wish.

    Some quotes on dieing from brilliant men:
    "When I die, I won't go to heaven or hell. There will just be nothingness." -Isaac Asimov

    "When I am, death is not, and when death is, I am not," -Epicurus (on why we should not fear death).

  8. Dear Bob,

    I have been thinking a great deal about you over the past few days. I have come up with a few practical suggestions based on my experience as a palliative care nurse, and my personal experience gained while caring for both of my parents during the end of their lives.
    I am hoping that some of these may be helpful to you.

    1. write down your wishes regarding funeral/memorial services, and have at least two people witness it. This will keep your family from being hassled about the choices they make for you.

    2. Find the balance in pain and nausea control. If your pain is greater than "mild", or you are feeling slow and sluggish or stoned, talk to your MD and/or nursing staff. There are many options for pain/nausea control and you deserve to be comfortable.

    3. If you are intending to stay at home, have a plan in place for emergencies. Uncontrolled pain or emesis, bleeding or basically anything that can not be handled by your family/caregivers is an emergency.

    4. Your surroundings need to be pleasant to you!
    Music, art, flowers and people that you want and enjoy. Food and fluids that you like and can tolerate safely. As hard as it can be, you may have to tell some visitors to leave, of course your family and caregivers can do this as well. If you are concerned about hurt feelings... make a code word like "grape juice" to cue your family or caregiver to send the visitor away.

    5. If something is bothering you decide if you have the energy or desire to deal with it. For example, a falling out with a friend or relative. If it isn't bothering you then let it be. If it is bothering you, but you have no energy to deal with it.. write it down or dictate it. You and your family can then decide if the person needs to see it, and when. You really don't need any extra anxiety at this time. If you know you can't deal with an issue in any way.. forgive yourself and the other person.

    6. Life is not a solemn and serious affair all the time, and death doesn't need to be either. You can be silly when the mood strikes.. you can have fun within your energy level. Cry if you need to (alone or with someone) but laugh too!
    Enjoy your time with the people you love, and tell them how you feel. It will help you both.

    7. Finally, remeber how many people you haved touched in one way or another. You have been a significant person to many other people. You have made a difference in your corner of this life. You will be remembered, and you will be missed.

    I truly wish the best for you and all of those you hold dear.


    Jennifer Edmunds RN

  9. i believe that death is not terrifying. i never think about after life. i also beleive that we are not very important beings. I define human being as a tiny little element of the existance.

    The structure of human brain is the everlasting answer and ironically source of all questions that we ask ourselves. And the rest is just living like a flower or an animal.

    Am I a pesimistic? No. Do I live with enthusiasm? Yes. Not even one person requested to be born. Not even one person had right to be born. So I just live. You did lived.

    Just try to make your brain happier.

    Thanks for reading,
    A brother of you.

  10. Bob, how are you doing today? I hope you are doing as well as you possibly can in your situation.

    I ran across this idea while I was researching facing death as an atheist or agnostic.

    Not existing after death is no worse than not existing before birth.

    We have all already not existed once, so after we die we'll just not exist again. That idea gave me some solace and seems to make the thought of death a bit less scary.

    As far as not existing anymore, It's kind of like been there done that already.

  11. I really like this last comment about "not existing." Much ado about nothing, mm? So clear that it's mainly fear that creates all the myths and beliefs we humans cling to.

    Great discussion here.

  12. We'll come back. (See Victor Zammit and Michael Roll.) Ghosts are not supernatural but empeiric, præternatural, and provabil: http://google.​com/search?q=site:alternet.​org+lysdexia+ghosts-may. The soul can be weihed, and the reincarnated show up in kids with birth marks of their past death and memories of their life and foreign tonge. To make a ghost, one must die quickly and painfully however. A better bet is to be a wraith—show up at one's kith's bedside or dream to say goodbye.