Is the sadness we experience when someone dies....

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Re: Is the sadness we experience when someone dies....

#21  Postby DanDare » May 27, 2011 1:26 pm

Grief is a response, not a decision. You discover someone has died and it hits you like the pain from a punch. You wake up at nights with the loss sweeping over you. Its selfish to expect others to deal with your grief for you. Its selfish to pretend to a grief you do not feel so that others will care for you and comfort you.
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Re: Is the sadness we experience when someone dies....

#22  Postby Oster » Jun 07, 2011 4:14 am

You really have to define "selfishness," because selfishness is too often used to include one's desires, which are often other-concerned, mutually beneficial or altruistic.

I've often heard "ultimately selfish" applied in this way: You want someone else to be happy so you can be happy yourself.

While it is certainly true we may feel compelled to relieve another from unhappiness so we can feel happy, it is an ugly thing to call this "selfish" given the negative, completely self-serving connotation of the word.

This is clearly empathy for another.

We want to be happy, or at least not unhappy, and it is selfish when we want our happiness at the cost of others's happiness. People who have lost someone near to them who milk pity and support from others are selfish. Someone who takes the deceased's personal items to have for themselves without regard to how others feel is selfish.

Regret is often a big part of grief, and is often conveyed in terms of wishing that person's life had been happier, or that more time was spent together, or that things were done or said to contribute to the person's happiness, or things had not been done or said which had detracted from the person's happiness. The loss one feels is often, partly, the loss of the chance to have a better relationship, or any relationship at all.

I don't think most people consider a person selfish when they say they're sorry they lost a job they really enjoyed or wrecked a car they really liked; things which made them happy. In the same way, losing a person who contributed to our happiness shouldn't be considered selfish.

To say it is selfish to work for your own happiness is to dehumanize yourself.

Do you wish happiness for people?

Are you a person?

Our feelings of happiness and unhappiness are the basis of our ethics, morals and many of our beliefs. Considering how we feel about things helps us determine what's important to us, whether something is good, what to continue, what to change, and points us to our goals; our individual purposes in life.

And one of those purposes may be to have mutual happiness with someone who has died.
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Re: Is the sadness we experience when someone dies....

#23  Postby ginckgo » Jun 07, 2011 4:55 am

My father died last week. There are three thoughts that instantly make me cry at the moment (in increasing intensity):

The thought of how much more amazing work he could have done, even if he had just lived 5 more years.

The thought that my mother will now have to live her years without him.

The thought that my two children will never really have known him long enough to remember him well.

I will greatly miss him as well, but I appear to be dealing with that aspect better then the three above.

Is it selfish?
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Re: Is the sadness we experience when someone dies....

#24  Postby Grace » Jun 07, 2011 5:17 am

When someone dies it causes stress in varying amounts for different people. This stress causes the release of cortisol. Cortisol chews up oxytocin (the feel good hormone). Without a steady dose of oxytocin we begin to experience the terrible feeling of withdrawal from this hormone fairly quickly after hearing distressing news about a loved one.

Ways to lessen oxytocin withdrawal and cortisol production:
1. Accept the support and love from friends and family upon receiving distressing news.
2. Avoid abusing psychoactive substances and alcohol during cortisol production which may lead to rage and unpredictable behavior.
3. Begin relaxing techniques and comfort measures as soon as fear and loss is experienced.
4. Accept this feeling as a normal biological response that will soon pass.
5. Understand that letting go is an act of love.
6. Realize that love is never really lost, but stored in our memory for as long as we live.

The above was made possible by studying centenarians remarkable ability to accept the unpleasant pain of life and move on.
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Re: Is the sadness we experience when someone dies....

#25  Postby Oster » Jun 07, 2011 6:12 am

Sincere sympathies, ginckgo. I'm a father myself, and I think the main thing I'll care about when I die is that the people I love will be ok without me.
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Re: Is the sadness we experience when someone dies....

#26  Postby ginckgo » Jun 08, 2011 2:33 am

Oster wrote:Sincere sympathies, ginckgo. I'm a father myself, and I think the main thing I'll care about when I die is that the people I love will be ok without me.


Yes, the experience has put that thought into high contrast for me, too. I've been stopping myself from jaywalking, and rather waiting for the lights to turn green - death is just a stupid moment away, and I am not leaving my wife and kids behind just yet.
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