TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

How can we know and study more about life and death?

There are a huge number of sciences that study this subject, but It's really difficult to choose one and make new purposes and suggest new ideas, so I wanna know how do we start to study more about this subject.

Topics: death humanity life
Share:
  • thumb
    Dec 17 2013: Hello Isadora, and welcome to TED conversations!

    This topic is particularly meaningful for me today because my brother died last night.....it is the second brother who died this year.

    I think/feel being open to ALL available information is important when learning more about the life/death cycle. Observation, and truly "being" in the moment with each and every interaction in the life adventure, seems important to me. In my experience, when we face death, either ourselves or our loved ones, we have the opportunity to learn more about life. And when we truly experience life by being fully present in the moment, facing the death part of the cycle seems less traumatic.
    • thumb
      Dec 17 2013: My condolences to you and your family, Colleen. I agree with you that a life lived well, with love generously bestowed and accepted, makes facing death less traumatic. I believe too that it is never too late for those who may have lost their way to focus on what matters.
      • thumb
        Dec 17 2013: Thank you Fritzie, and I agree.....it's never too late to focus on what really matters:>)
    • Dec 22 2013: Colleen. I'm replying to you because you have made some thoughtful and helpful comments on this subject which is so little discussed, thought of, regarded, contemplated and so forth in our modern industrial society but which appears to have been more central to older societies.

      Yubal in his comment above said we "cannot catch or know in real-time the very moment of our death". Well I don't know exactly what the definition Yubal might have in mind about real-time - but almost exactly one year ago my wife died. As she was talking her last breath she made a gesture with her arm which showed me and the two great friends in the room that she knew it was her last breath. I can't find the right words for the power and grace she was communicating to us as she made that effort at the moment she was passing into.......????

      My reaction to Mr. Cave's talk - on this point - is that he might not have considered that perhaps one's entire life is summed up not by the action or inaction we have taken in the world - but as a preparation for the moment of one's death??

      I'm aware that there are "Death Cafes" popping up at different locations in the U.S. where people can come together and simply discuss death - I've attended one "Cafe" and based on my experience can recommend it to others.

      Thanks Isadora for starting this conversation.

      Best Wishes to all.
      • thumb
        Dec 23 2013: Hello Sean,
        Thank you for the kind feedback, and I am sorry about your loss. I believe we are beginning to contemplate death and dying a little more now. As Alex points out, there are classes and lots of reading materials available.

        Sorry, I do not understand Yubal's comment about "real time". Perhaps he will clarify?

        I believe people often decide when they are ready to die. I have seen, so many times in the terminal care facility where I volunteered, that people often wait until a certain person comes to see them, wait until something is resolved....etc.

        I spent a lot of time with my brother who died last week, and we talked about death. Recently, I was traveling for 10 days. He was taken to ICU a couple days after I left, and I was in touch with him and the nurses on the floor as I traveled. He was in and out of ICU all that time....appearing to be a little more stable.....then declining....stabilizing....declining....back and forth...

        When I returned home, another brother and I visited him in ICU and spent the day with him. It was exhausting for him to talk, but he kept making eye contact with me and winking. He also made a gesture with his hand that appeared to say I am finished. When we left him that afternoon, another friend visited, and he told her that he was finished. She left, and right after that he died.

        I believe that we often do an evaluation of our life experience as we face death. Perhaps this is what you refer to when you say our life is summed up in preparation for the moment of our death?My observation, is that if one has lived a life that is content, the death process is less traumatic. It is generally regrets that keep a person agitated, distressed, or uncomfortable with the dying process.

        This conversation will close soon, and if you want to continue a discussion after it closes, you are welcome to contact me through the TED e-mail system.
    • thumb
      Dec 23 2013: Dear Colleen, I do care about you, but, I do not have enough words to express my feelings.

      You are remembered in my prayers every morning before 7:30am.
  • Dec 21 2013: I had some classes in psychology in college that covered a lot of issues related to life and death. In particular, there is a category of psychology known as life span psychology which looks at the psychology of different ages including death.
    Go online and look at these books:
    On Death and Dying
    Psychology of Death and Dying
    Death and Dying: Life and Living
    • thumb
      Dec 23 2013: Hi Alex,
      I am thrilled to see this topic included in college courses, because it seems that there is quite a bit of fear about death and dying. I guest lectured for several years in a sociology class at the university called "Death, Dying and Bereavement". I generally went into the class at a certain stage, spoke about my own experience with an NDE and Hospice care of others, and facilitated discussion groups. I finally decided to take the whole class, and it was wonderful.

      You are probably aware of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, her research and books about Death, Dying, Grieving, stages of Loss, etc.? The professor in the class I spoke in, worked with EKR, and was with her at the end of her life.....so they had a LOT to talk about!!!

      There is also a good workbook that was used in the class..."Life Before Death Workbook" by Jim Boulden (available on-line), which really encourages a lot of introspection.
  • thumb
    Dec 17 2013: Some learn from their own experience or from other people's experiences. I started to comtemplate on this last year after reading some of Irvin Yalom's books and began to reprioritise life. One of his book Staring at the Sun tells some of his own confrontation of death anxiety and its quite ingenious that he combines some concepts in existentialism philosophy with psychological researches and practices.But of course you can research this thru different lenses to structure what you know and decide what works for you.
    • thumb
      Dec 17 2013: Hi Amily:>)
      I totally agree....we can research and learn through different lenses to form our own thoughts, feelings, ideas and beliefs regarding life and death. I am not very patient when someone insists that his/her beliefs are the one and only.
      • thumb
        Dec 17 2013: Hi Colleen!Nice to see your big smile again! I'm sorry to hear that you lost your brother just last night(hands on your shoulders).Its tough to think what it means and nothing can be done to change it .I think that reminds me of cherishing the time with close friends and family members ,appreciating and communicating more.

        At the same time ,like too many issues in life,there's no formula prescribed.Each has to figure out his/her own path.

        take care,my friend.
        • thumb
          Dec 17 2013: Thank you Amily.....it's always nice to connect with you my friend, and I can feel your loving, kind hands on my shoulders....thank you:>)

          I agree....death often reminds us of life, and how we can cherish the time with friends and family....appreciating and communicating as much as possible. The time spent with my brother in the last few months has been very precious. Although I feel a loss of his physical presence, he has been a wonderful presence throughout my life, and I appreciate that very much. His health has been compromised for quite some time, and I am content now that he is no longer physically struggling.

          One question that is helpful to ask ourselves when/if we feel anger or separation from those we love is....what does this mean in the long range? How important is it to hang onto anger and resentment? How will we feel about our behaviors when that person is gone?

          While volunteering in a terminal care facility, I learned from observation, that generally, it is regrets that cause people to be less comfortable with the dying process. When one has lived a life that is more content, the dying process is easier as well.
      • thumb
        Dec 18 2013: Colleen, good to konw that you have processed thru all of this.Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences on this.
        • thumb
          Dec 18 2013: Hi again Amily,
          I have not processed through ALL of it yet, and I will continue to explore until I take my last breath.

          My own near death, and the death of many people I love, has caused more and more exploration. I believe we can continue to understand on many different levels throughout the life/death adventure.
  • thumb
    Dec 24 2013: I think the way is to experience travels to different places as much as you can, read as many good books as you can, meet and communicate face to face with as many people as you can. You'd know what life you want and what death means to everyone and yourself.
  • thumb
    Dec 24 2013: Isadora, For all of recorded time there have been the most powerful seeking answers. They employed seers, witch doctors, fortune tellers, die casters, card readers, astrologists, and leaders in most religions, to forecast their fate and to see their future. We know no more today than we did centuries ago.

    We have knowledge of the physical (our bodies) during life and have studied the body after death. All else id still a mystery.

    So here is my question to you .... do you want to live your life vicariously through the words of others, books, movie scandal sheets, movies, etc ... or do you want to get in the game.

    Of all of the studies .... has anyone broke the code or came up with any proof that they know or understand what occurs in death (other than medically)?

    Stop looking outside and look inside for the answers.

    If you really want to throw away your money ... I will set up a account that you can send me the money LOL. Just my way of saying save your money.

    Bob.
  • thumb
    Dec 18 2013: In my view, it might be that death is a certain unknown state of consciousness. That possible state of consciousness is beyond our reach in our life-state consciousness, within the usual given scope of our mental//reason//psychic capabilities (I am not talking about NDE). However, this should not stop us from trying to imagine//simulate, as far remotely as it might be, what flavor such death-consciousness might has.

    One may make use of what we do daily, sleeping, to take it as a kind of a remote simulation of death-consciousness. One might start to trace the whole process of falling asleep, like how one's ego//identity starts retreating as one gets nearer to sleep. One also always finds that one can never catch the very moment of falling asleep. And also if one dreams, there's absolutely no relationship between the time of before falling asleep and the time inside the dream. All this implies us that time is inseparably bonded with our consciousness or with consciousness's different states. If this is true, then it leads to the conclusion that one cannot ever catch or know in real-time the very moment of his/her death, and also this shows how the time lose its meaning for the dead. And so on and on...........
  • Dec 17 2013: Great subject and one effecting us all, at some point in life!

    This is a great opportunity to share, and I want to emphasize that's all it is, sharing.
    Most people have read "Life After Life" which was the first study on NDE's many years ago. Even then, one whole chapter was devoted to someone with the name "Swedenborg."

    During the last, almost 30 years of this man's life he spent, almost every day, tme in the NDE condition. While still being quite productive working in a scientific and government environment. Much more can be found on Wikipedia.

    About 200 years ago he wrote many details about NDE's and several books about the afterlife. There is now a page on Facebook about his most read book "Heaven and Hell" (heavenandhellswedenborg)

    All of his books are now free downloads here, including H&H. Enjoy.
    http://www.swedenborg.com/bookstore/e-books/