Funerals: evidence from the human mind

digitalbeachbum's picture

I went to a funeral yesterday. It was a very sad experience and I cried when my friend got up to speak about her son.

He was her first born. He was twenty years old and just getting his life started.

I didn't know him. I had only met him a few times. He was a nice guy. Some one who you'd like to hang around because he was quiet and gentle.

Seeing how his passing had an effect on the two hundred and fifty people who showed up I suspect that my impressions of him were correct.

There was a lot of crying going on. A lot of sad people.

...

When loved-ones leave we are sad. I've seen in extreme cases, military people leave their families behind and there is a lot of crying. People don't like to see their most loved, most cherished friends and family leave.

In most cases they know that they will return eventually and they might think that, in cases of war, that they might not return.

Therefore the level of sadness/tears are more intense.

...

If a person dies, those people who loved and cherished them the most will cry. Their crying is very intense, which shows the level of their sadness.

They know, deep inside their mind, that this person is gone. They know that there is zero percent that they will return.

Over time, the further away we are away from that moment of death, the level of sadness/crying lessens. Over time it will, in almost all cases, stop completely.

There will be different levels of "I miss them" feelings among family and friends, but people eventually drift back to the ignorance.

...

For non-believers or believers this level of crying/sadness is the same.

It is a human response and I find it to be natural. Only psychopaths and other forms of emotional disconnection don't feel the same.

...

I submit as evidence, that the level of sadness/crying after a loved one passes indicates that deep inside the human mind, we know that those loved ones are gone forever. We know there is no heaven. We know there is no life ever lasting.

If there were such places/beings then we would not be sad/cry. We would know that the loved one is only gone for a short time and we would be reunited with them. Death would be no different than having your spouse drive down to the supermarket to get a pint of milk.

 

Free will is an illusion. People always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure.

-Scott Adams

harleysportster's picture

I would tend to agree

 I would tend to agree with this assessment. 

I know that the ideas of eternal life, reincarnation, paradise and such are simply developed coping mechanisms that enable people to try and make peace with the loss of loved ones, but I suspect that people deep down inside know a whole lot different. 

I personally do not say anything to someone, when they have lost a family member and say something along the lines of : "He is in a better place", or "He is with god now," or whatever. 

I have had people try to give me the whole : "BUT YOU DON'T BELIEVE THAT DO YOU ?" semi-angry response (it has only happened once or twice) and I generally just say : "I don't know for sure." or something along those lines. 

However, I certainly don't believe that we necessarily go anywhere and I have never found much comfort in the fact that some theists will say things along the line of : "Energy can not be destroyed." Like that proves something.  So what ? If I die and turn into some ball of light or some mass of electrons floating around in space, it will mean nothing to me nor will it matter. 

I think that many people have difficulty coming to terms with their own mortality and will grasp at anything to believe that there is something beyond death. 

This especially hits true when people we care about pass on. 

I do feel that religion (whether knowingly or not) exploits this, but whether one believes that one is in a better place or not, they still have to go through the bereavement process and eventually have to let go. Its a sad part of life, IMO. But it is quite unavoidable. 

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno

Sage_Override's picture

I despise funerals.  They

I despise funerals.  They are the saddest fucking things I'll ever experience.  I've been to only a few and none of them were for my family (we're a group of die hards).  They were always for people I never really knew well, but a friend or girlfriend wanted me there for support which I always hated, not because I didn't want to be there for them, but because there's an inherent dismay behind the entire ceremony and every part of me wants to make people laugh.  Being around a large group of individuals that have to be depressed, sad, hurt or in mourning is the exact opposite of everything that I am and it saps everything from me.  None of the people that died were bad people and I knew who they were which made it worse.  They weren't like family, close to me or any of that, but I knew enough about them that it made me very sad and uncomfortable. 

 

Death in general makes me squirm.  Being around people that are no longer walking around, breathing, doing their thing and then BAM gone.  It's unsettling.  Even elderly people.  We know their time is coming, but fucking hell, they're still people like you and me.  Being dead is the end of it all.  You no longer have those guilty pleasures to be secretive about or covet goods for hobbies.  It's just over; all of it.  So, I avoid death whenever I can.  When my cat died, I cried harder than I've cried in years.  It's just my pet for fuck sakes, but she was a big part of my life for fifteen damn years and I loved that little furball.  Shit, I'm not sure I'll be able to handle any of my family members dying, but it'll happen.  A part of my brain might shake loose and I'll become a liability to society.  Hopefully I'll be too senile to notice.  Unless I suddenly develop Progeria, though, I doubt that'll happen. 

"When the majority believes in what is false, the truth becomes a quest." - Me

digitalbeachbum's picture

Sage_Override wrote:I

Sage_Override wrote:

I despise funerals. 

Death in general makes me squirm.

When my cat died, I cried harder than I've cried in years.  It's just my pet for fuck sakes, but she was a big part of my life for fifteen damn years and I loved that little furball.  Shit, I'm not sure I'll be able to handle any of my family members dying, but it'll happen.  A part of my brain might shake loose and I'll become a liability to society.  Hopefully I'll be too senile to notice.  Unless I suddenly develop Progeria, though, I doubt that'll happen. 

Death is an illusion. You aren't alive either so you can't die. Think about it.

We make emotional connections which are fake. We think "this is my..." "this is mine..." then it is gone and we know they are not coming back. It's a shock to the system and a moment of truth at the same time.

I believe it is one of the only times in our lives when we are truly awake, when we see a loved one die. It stirs us, but then we go back to sleep.

 

Free will is an illusion. People always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure.

-Scott Adams

Sage_Override's picture

digitalbeachbum wrote:Death

digitalbeachbum wrote:
Death is an illusion. You aren't alive either so you can't die. Think about it.

 

From a poetic or philisophical standpoint, I can agree, but we still have a connection to each other.  Our family and friends and even pets maintain that connection harder than a stranger because we don't really know them or spent significant time around them.  If a random homeless guy dies in Skid Row, I feel nothing because I never knew him.  If my parakeet dies, I would get sad because I spent significant energy and time on that creature caring for it and giving a shit what happens with it's life, keeping it safe and what not. 

 

digitalbeachbum wrote:
We make emotional connections which are fake. We think "this is my..." "this is mine..." then it is gone and we know they are not coming back. It's a shock to the system and a moment of truth at the same time.

 

 

Native Americans, most notably the Cherokee and Sioux, placed mourning periods on their loved ones or significant others to demonstrate a respect for the dead before moving on.  Whether they believed after that that they moved onto a better place or not doesn't matter; they had a emotional connection that was real.  We feel for people we've lost; sometimes those feelings linger depending on the relationship.  Hell, my ex of eight years has been ancient history for about two years now.  I can't stand her anymore and I'll probably never speak to her again, but I still have feelings for her despite my hatred and if she died, I would care in some sense.  A shock to the system might explain how we feel neurologically speaking on certain aspects of life and death, disregarding everything religious of course, but there seems to be something bigger than it being "fake."  I don't know, maybe people are just goofy and out of whack when dealing with loss and some just take it better.   

"When the majority believes in what is false, the truth becomes a quest." - Me

digitalbeachbum's picture

Sage_Override

Sage_Override wrote:

digitalbeachbum wrote:
Death is an illusion. You aren't alive either so you can't die. Think about it.

 

From a poetic or philisophical standpoint, I can agree, but we still have a connection to each other.  Our family and friends and even pets maintain that connection harder than a stranger because we don't really know them or spent significant time around them.  If a random homeless guy dies in Skid Row, I feel nothing because I never knew him.  If my parakeet dies, I would get sad because I spent significant energy and time on that creature caring for it and giving a shit what happens with it's life, keeping it safe and what not. 

 

digitalbeachbum wrote:
We make emotional connections which are fake. We think "this is my..." "this is mine..." then it is gone and we know they are not coming back. It's a shock to the system and a moment of truth at the same time.

 

 

Native Americans, most notably the Cherokee and Sioux, placed mourning periods on their loved ones or significant others to demonstrate a respect for the dead before moving on.  Whether they believed after that that they moved onto a better place or not doesn't matter; they had a emotional connection that was real.  We feel for people we've lost; sometimes those feelings linger depending on the relationship.  Hell, my ex of eight years has been ancient history for about two years now.  I can't stand her anymore and I'll probably never speak to her again, but I still have feelings for her despite my hatred and if she died, I would care in some sense.  A shock to the system might explain how we feel neurologically speaking on certain aspects of life and death, disregarding everything religious of course, but there seems to be something bigger than it being "fake."  I don't know, maybe people are just goofy and out of whack when dealing with loss and some just take it better.   

 

Both great responses. Thanks!

What I mean by fake is that it is based on emotions we are often mislead by; such as an ex I had who I loved very dearly. She broke up with me and I had a difficult time dealing with it.

One evening every thing came together for me. I realized I was creating my own suffering. I realized that she had nothing to do with my pain. I knew I could control my emotions and that if I would choose happiness then [bam] I would be happy instantly.

When people pass on, we are really upset. Eventually we forget them a little more every day so the pain goes away. Yes, a mother is still sad about the death of her child forty years later, but it would be an extremely rare case where a mother reacted with the same intensity, every day, like the first day she heard the news they had passed.

Free will is an illusion. People always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure.

-Scott Adams

Sage_Override's picture

digitalbeachbum wrote:What I

digitalbeachbum wrote:

What I mean by fake is that it is based on emotions we are often mislead by; such as an ex I had who I loved very dearly. She broke up with me and I had a difficult time dealing with it.

One evening every thing came together for me. I realized I was creating my own suffering. I realized that she had nothing to do with my pain. I knew I could control my emotions and that if I would choose happiness then [bam] I would be happy instantly.

When people pass on, we are really upset. Eventually we forget them a little more every day so the pain goes away. Yes, a mother is still sad about the death of her child forty years later, but it would be an extremely rare case where a mother reacted with the same intensity, every day, like the first day she heard the news they had passed.

 

 

Yeah, that makes sense then.  The way we feel at times can definitely screw with us and ultimately mess with our perception and lives.  Ex girlfriends are a huge root cause of that for guys.  In the case of bad/difficult break-ups and women that fucked with our heads, George Herbert said it best: "Living well is the best revenge."

 

People passing does have a lingering effect and it does fade, true.  We live our lives the best we can as a way to cover it up as best and honor their memory to forget the bad times and remember the good ones to keep part of them alive.

"When the majority believes in what is false, the truth becomes a quest." - Me

digitalbeachbum's picture

Sage_Override

Sage_Override wrote:

digitalbeachbum wrote:

What I mean by fake is that it is based on emotions we are often mislead by; such as an ex I had who I loved very dearly. She broke up with me and I had a difficult time dealing with it.

One evening every thing came together for me. I realized I was creating my own suffering. I realized that she had nothing to do with my pain. I knew I could control my emotions and that if I would choose happiness then [bam] I would be happy instantly.

When people pass on, we are really upset. Eventually we forget them a little more every day so the pain goes away. Yes, a mother is still sad about the death of her child forty years later, but it would be an extremely rare case where a mother reacted with the same intensity, every day, like the first day she heard the news they had passed.

 

Yeah, that makes sense then.  The way we feel at times can definitely screw with us and ultimately mess with our perception and lives.  Ex girlfriends are a huge root cause of that for guys.  In the case of bad/difficult break-ups and women that fucked with our heads, George Herbert said it best: "Living well is the best revenge." 

People passing does have a lingering effect and it does fade, true.  We live our lives the best we can as a way to cover it up as best and honor their memory to forget the bad times and remember the good ones to keep part of them alive.

I often thought about what my response would be if this "ex" passed away. I'd be sad but at the same time I wouldn't cry.

That is where the line is drawn for all of us. You can be sad about the loss of a friend or family member, but it doesn't mean you will cry.

If you feel, "this is mine", then the reaction will be even greater. You will sob like a big baby, which is what I did with my dog when she passed. I am sure if I would have prepared myself for the passing and told myself that "this is not mine, it is not a possession, it is only in passing", I wonder if I could change the response I would have; hmmm. I have a dog now which has been in the family since it was a puppy. When it goes, oh boy, their are going to be some very unhappy people. I'm going to start meditating on those words. I want to see if I can control my response when he passes.

 

Free will is an illusion. People always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure.

-Scott Adams

darth_josh's picture

 I'm not much of a comfort

 I'm not much of a comfort to anyone when someone dies. Never have been.

It seems irrational to put life on hold in order to mourn a death.

People who wouldn't visit or be welcome in the deceased person's home while they were living show up in force.

Let alone the fact that more money is spent interring someone than would normally be spent to make their lives 'fuller'.

There have been many times I've tried to 'fake it' for a loved one or special person, but I don't have it in me.

I shed a tear for my grandmother, even though it was far past her 'time' to go. Purely selfish that was.

 

 

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harleysportster's picture

darth_josh wrote: I'm not

darth_josh wrote:

 I'm not much of a comfort to anyone when someone dies. Never have been.

It seems irrational to put life on hold in order to mourn a death.

People who wouldn't visit or be welcome in the deceased person's home while they were living show up in force.

Let alone the fact that more money is spent interring someone than would normally be spent to make their lives 'fuller'.

There have been many times I've tried to 'fake it' for a loved one or special person, but I don't have it in me.

I shed a tear for my grandmother, even though it was far past her 'time' to go. Purely selfish that was.

 

 

 

I can see where your coming from there. 

I remember a guy that ran a department at a company that I worked at that was the meanest asshole that you would ever want to meet. He was also one to be careful with, because not only was he forever trying to get you fired to make himself look good, he would fuck up your work hours and short your pay. (True stuff, dude just seemed to get his rocks off with it).

Anyway, he passed away and several of the people (all of whom HATED his guts while he was alive) had the nerve to tell me that I should have gone to his funeral to "pay respects". These same people were standing in the breakroom talking about how much they hated him a day after his burial. 

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno

digitalbeachbum's picture

darth_josh wrote: I'm not

darth_josh wrote:

 I'm not much of a comfort to anyone when someone dies. Never have been.

It seems irrational to put life on hold in order to mourn a death.

People who wouldn't visit or be welcome in the deceased person's home while they were living show up in force.

Let alone the fact that more money is spent interring someone than would normally be spent to make their lives 'fuller'.

There have been many times I've tried to 'fake it' for a loved one or special person, but I don't have it in me.

I shed a tear for my grandmother, even though it was far past her 'time' to go. Purely selfish that was.

I usually won't go to a funeral unless it is to support a person who is related to the deceased.  The funeral I went to Saturday was some one I knew since kindergarten.  Our families had been very close during the youth of the children and the parents took turns driving the kids to school. So I felt it was needed to show support.

Your tear was a given. There was no avoiding it.

 

Free will is an illusion. People always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure.

-Scott Adams

digitalbeachbum's picture

harleysportster wrote:I can

harleysportster wrote:

I can see where your coming from there. 

I remember a guy that ran a department at a company that I worked at that was the meanest asshole that you would ever want to meet. He was also one to be careful with, because not only was he forever trying to get you fired to make himself look good, he would fuck up your work hours and short your pay. (True stuff, dude just seemed to get his rocks off with it).

Anyway, he passed away and several of the people (all of whom HATED his guts while he was alive) had the nerve to tell me that I should have gone to his funeral to "pay respects". These same people were standing in the breakroom talking about how much they hated him a day after his burial. 

I think it is bullshit to "pay your respects" for some one you didn't respect. I can understand if military commander dies and his opponent/enemy pays their respect for them (because they actually respect their combat abilities).

To have a boss who was a total douche bag, paying your respects at their funeral is a lie and should be avoided.

I had a boss who was like this and if they died I wouldn't give a rat's ass about how they died or going to the funeral. In fact, we used to joke that we would rather take a giant shit on his face before they closed up the coffin and buried him. He was that much of a douche bag.

 

Free will is an illusion. People always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure.

-Scott Adams