Do the dead miss living?

I’m as confident as I can be that death is the absolute and final end of the individual. Yes, our atoms continue to exist as part of the world. Yes, our energy dissipates. But our personalities, identities, minds wink out forever and completely.

It is a depressing thought, which explains why so many people refuse to think it. For those who imagine an afterlife, how can it be that the dead aren’t miserable? If you were ripped from your family and friends, what would it take to make you not care at all about that? Seventy virgins? (All one needs to know about the misogyny of Islam. But don’t be smug: all religions distort women, even Wicca.) In Christian Heaven, you are reunited with everyone you used to love (is Grandpa still 99 – forever – would that be his idea of heaven?). Is that reunion enough to make you wait for the not-yet-dead to follow? Is Heaven like pausing in the shade on a trail, waiting for a straggler to catch up?

I know I’m verging on mockery: nonsense lends itself to that. If my beliefs hurt or anger you, believe what you will. If we meet on the other side, I owe you a Coke.

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