4 Strategies to Deal with Death
Attention: Parts of the following might sound offensive to some. It’s not written to (merely) provoke, but to shed a pragmatist view on an irrationalized topic.
The topic is death. Nobody likes it, most people disguise it, a few have an obsession with it, and very few persevere to deal with it in a rational-pragmatic way. I think the latter should be more common in order to increase the likelihood of our options.
“We all have to die. So why speak about options?” you might say. I say: death is a challenge we all have to tackle. And there are always various ways to solve a challenge. I don’t say that to solve necessarily means to overcome. As long as we are alive our own death is a thought we should have the courage to think clearly and contextualize within our worldview. Doing so might be uncomfortable, but it bears the potential of empowering you with more awareness and control over your life and actions.
Here are four different strategies to do so.
1. Accept death and strive to live the good life.
A solid, mature choice. You bet on what is most probable — an average human lifespan before the big nothingness that is not even nothing — and accord the course of your actions and thoughts to it. To figure out living the good life is in any case desirable. Many people are too fixated on some kind of immortality arrangement, be it religious or technological, so that they lose sight of investing in life’s secure sources of fulfillment. Followers of this strategy often opt for the additional care for the good life of their progeny.
2. Believe in an afterlife and live your life under guidelines that promise you a good spot there.
The religious strategy, by far the most popular one (85% of the world’s population). There are many reasons for this popularity, and death is one of them. Whoever reads through the descriptions of paradise, heaven, hell, or any other afterlife vision will not only find them quite infantile, but also undesirable. Therefore, most religious people tend to believe in an afterlife without putting too much thought into it. Still, they live for it. Why? Because the thought of death has a certain effect on our psyche. Even though afterlife contradicts a scientific way of thinking, the thought of death as the nothingness that you cannot even think contradicts it even more. The most logical consequence of life is something that you cannot think — that’s a terrible dilemma and one of the main reasons from within the human condition why so many people rather choose to fill the thought of death with the fuzzy vision of an afterlife.
However, if the religious strategy is an option for you — i.e., if you can believe — it’s definitely a convenient one. According to the Blue Zone Theory it also contributes to your longevity.
3. Secure your cryopreservation and hope for a couple of developments to come together to enable a desirable reanimation in the future.
Cryopreservation becomes a more and more accepted and accessible option for those whose end is in sight. If yours is not, you can make all the arrangements that will put you in a cryotank instead of a coffin, but it should be more of a backup if everything else goes wrong. Albeit the preservation process might work as such, it comes at the cost of major damage to your brain. Reanimation under these circumstances is still in the clouds, and there is a good chance that a lot of wealthy frozen people will be in line before you, while the odds that your supplier goes broke or sells your brain increase. If you will be reanimated, however, it will definitely be in an existence that has only little to do with your current life. This might come at a shock you won’t recover from, even if you consider yourself a highly adaptable person now. Cryopreservation is a bet on “staying” alive, not on keeping your life.
4. Work on extending your lifespan and support the development of rejuvenation therapies to be available during your lifetime.
Aubrey de Grey calls this strategy the Longevity Escape Velocity. Like a space rocket needs a certain speed to escape from the gravitational influence of planet earth, you need a certain healthy lifespan to enter the age of widely available rejuvenation therapies. As the hallmarks of aging are manifold and won’t be tackled at once, the strategy is to reverse your biological age with one therapy in order to extend your healthy lifespan until the next one is available, and so on.
The development of these therapies is real. For an exhaustive directory of all startups and research facilities working on the issue check out my website reju.tech.
My personal strategy is a combination of 1 and 4. After many years of philosophical struggle following a near-death experience, I made my inner peace with dying. I frequently meditate myself as close as possible to the state of complete self-extinction. I accustom myself to the state of dying. I do this because I don’t want to deceive myself; I want to be whole. I am a mortal human being, and I want to experience life from an adequate point of view. This makes me appreciate life in a totally different quality, and it encourages me to constantly work on living the good life, to continuously push my personal evolution.
At the same time, the possibility of reversing my aging process, no matter how high or low, makes me do whatever I can to achieve it — without sacrificing the good life. And since personal evolution and optimal health are integral parts of my good-life formula, life extension doesn’t contradict my ideals. It’s rather inevitable, if I really want to live up to them. Accepting death provides me with value and meta-instructions. I cannot say the same about aging. Under the light of possible overcoming, the strategy to deal with aging is not mere acceptance, but determined counteraction. Therefore, everyday I make an effort to improve my health and longevity strategy, while I also help the people around me to make changes for better health. Last but not least, I work on advocating life extension to raise awareness, generate new life extenders and accelerate the movement.
By refusing to face our own immortality, we all live like we are immortal, but we don’t do anything to make it happen. I try to do the opposite. I want to wake up and be real for what I am and what I might become.
What is your strategy?
Check out my book Life Extension Design.