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  • Writer's pictureRuss Newton

What is death?

As you might imagine it, I have had the opportunity to think hard about this subject since I was diagnosed with a 100% fatal illness. Came across the following on the Washington Post website a few minutes ago and decided to share a partial version of it. I found this soothing for some reason.


If we stay focused on the body, the most concrete thing about us, it becomes difficult to say whether death exists at all. From the time you are born, your body is turning over. Cells are dying and growing all day, every day. The life span of your red blood cells, for example, is about 115 days. At your healthiest, living is a process of dying. A vital tension holds you together until the truce is broken.

But your death is not the end of your body. The chemical bonds that held you together at the molecular level continue to break in the minutes and months after you die. Tissues oxidize and decay, like a banana ripening. The energy that once animated the body doesn’t stop: It transforms. Decay from one angle, growth from another.

Unfettered, the decay process continues until all that was your body becomes something else, living on in others — in the grass and trees that grow from where you might come to rest, and from the critters who eat there. Your very genes, little packets of stuff, will live indefinitely as long as they found someone new to host them. Even after interment or cremation, your atoms remain intact and scatter to become other things, just as they pre-existed you and became you.

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3 Comments


grandspud
Dec 20, 2020

Thanks Russ... following your journey has certainly moved me closer.

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Russ Newton
Russ Newton
Dec 19, 2020

Larry,


Well, trust a 40 year agnostic, if I can see the light, so can you! Try it sometime, I find it a great comfort at this time.

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grandspud
Dec 19, 2020

I noticed the WaPo never mentions the soul. Pretty much what I would expect from them.


There's something more that never decays, breaksdown, and becomes part of something else. No living being can prove it, we can only feel it and have faith.


I had to put my best pal, Baloo, down four months ago. In the 60 seconds it took his heart to stop his eyes told everything. "Something" greater than cells, fluids and tissues had departed.


I'm not a religious guy and have not yet accepted "God" into my life. But I'd be an ignorant, egomaniacal fool to not acknowledge there exists a wonderous spirit beyond my capability to understand.


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