Human death


Human death
Human death is the end of sharable human personal experience - if anything happens to us after death, we are not able to clearly communicate it. Such rituals as a seance claim to be able to speak to the dead but this is not claimed to be very reliable, even by those who do them very often.
What is our death?
Death occurs to every life form and it means the mind, senses and body stopping. If there is some other part to life such as soul, that could continue without a body (afterlife), move into another body (reincarnation), or just go away. Religions have different beliefs about this issue.
The medical view of the body is that it is like an animal body and in some ways like a machine. This is a powerful way to see the body because it lets it be "diagnosed" and sometimes "fixed". However this is part of a mechanistic paradigm with other effects - one of which is a refusal to admit that it may often be better to die than live. Modern healing protocols like palliative care allow for this, and for the idea of "dying healed" which would make no sense if one thinks of healing as only about cures.
What happens after death?
When human killing is the cause of a human death, usually family members or friends or the state (claiming to act on their behalf or that of others who might be next) seek what can be called revenge or harms reduction by locking-up or killing the human killer. Also, when animals kill humans, they too are almost always caught and killed. It is considered a very bad thing to let animals taste human flesh, or to have the experience of killing one.
In any society, human death is surrounded by ritual - a wake or funeral is normal. In some places it was common to "eat" the dead in a form of ritual cannibalism. But this is no longer common, in part because disease like kuru can be passed this way. Human dead bodies are taboo in most societies and must be handled in special ways - for a combination of religious and hygiene reasons. A human dead body must always be reported in law, to be sure it is disposed of properly.
There are always some consequences or requirements for dealing with a human death.
Cover-ups.
Hiding a human death is considered very bad - almost as bad as homicide itself. One of the reasons Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein are said to have committed crimes against humanity is mass graves that were found in Bosnia and Iraq, which contained many people who opposed them. Today some people continue to deny that Adolf Hitler killed millions of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and political opponents in his death camps during World War II - this phenomenon is called Holocaust denial. Cover ups are frequent in the mafia and other organized crime.
Probably the worst cases of mass death in living memory are the Rwanda genocide and The Killing Fields of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge; each of killed approximately half of the population.
Dealing with dead bodies and their property.
Finding the cause of any human death, and stopping a similar death from happening to someone else, are the main reasons people look into "human morbidity", or let dead bodies be cut open and looked at in an autopsy. Some religions do not allow autopsies, because they feel the body is holy. Autopsies are usually required by the state if someone dies and people do not know why. The autopsy helps find out if someone killed the person on purpose, or tried to hurt them, or if they died from a sickness.
To prepare for their own death, humans can write a last will and testament to be clear about who gets their property. A person will sometimes also volunteer to be an organ donor. This might mean giving the whole body to medical research. It can also save the lives of others by making organ transplants possible.
Religious views of death.
Ancient rulers sometimes did insist not only that their own bodies, and much property, but even their servants and relatives be destroyed at their funeral. In India this ritual still does sometimes occur. Old women sometimes carry guns in case their husband's relatives come to throw them on the funeral fire.
Christianity has a special focus on death because of the state killing of Jesus Christ by the Romans. In Islam this is thought to demonstrate the injustice of human systems of dealing out death, and the ability of the best people to overcome it and even forgive it. In Christianity itself it is thought to prove that Jesus himself was really God and so could lose his body to show something and still have power. In Buddhism every being is thought to have this power, and reincarnation will occur until the being reaches enlightenment and can escape the wheel of life to reach Nirvana. Reincarnation is an idea taken from Hinduism of course.
Confucianism advises filial piety and forms of ancestor worship to respect both dead and living ancestors, who created your body and taught you ethics.
Rituals surrounding death.
Every ethical tradition including the medical view of the body has some ritual surrounding death. Often these excuse behaviours that might be hated if they did not have the ritual. For instance, one may say that organ transplant is like cannibalism.
Very much of what happens at a human death is ritual. People who wish theirs to be dealt with a certain way, and who wish a particular treatment like cremation of their body, should decide in advance and set up the necessary payments and agreements. This makes it much easier for their family after they die, since there is no longer the ability to clearly communicate the wish.
For the same reason, saying goodbye is important. Most of the stress of death seems to come for loved ones who "did not have a chance to say goodbye".
Maybe it is to relieve this stress that rituals are created, and to bring together those that knew someone so that the personal experience a person can no longer communicate for themselves, can be exchanged by others.
Preparing for death.
Because events leave living memory, and may only be part of oral tradition, there are projects to record everything that people remember about World War I and the Shoah. The first of these was to record everything remembered about the U.S. Civil War. This discipline has changed history since we have so many more first person accounts of the times, and made social history much more standard.


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