On Death and Mortality

pet lossHaving recently lost my dog, the past few days have consisted mostly of crying, solitude, and a weak attempt at trying to get work done (to no effect unfortunately). Yesterday night was extremely difficult; insomnia hung over me and I couldn’t muster up the strength to close my eyes since they burned. In the wee hours of the morning, I stepped outside onto the balcony to escape the confinement of my dorm room and I sat there for a good hour or so, trying to collect my thoughts on what had happened. The following is more or less a summarization of what I feel at the present moment.

I gazed on the stars and shivered and wondered if I’d ever see my dog again. Being an atheist almost always commits one to the thought that the afterlife is merely human invention meant to cope with bereavement, so reconciling this thought with my disbelief is quite a struggle. I really want to believe that somewhere, my dog is happily frolicking around like he used to, playing with the other dogs that have passed away, and awaiting my arrival into the afterlife with him. I want this to be true, but I can’t help but feel this is only wishful thinking on my part. Will I see my dog again? I don’t think so. Is this unacceptable? Yes, but reality is what it is. However, I take solace in knowing that for the decade that I owned my dog, I gave him the best life possible and I gave him my heart and soul, and I’d like to think that he did too. His finite existence with me was certainly rewarding and I think this only makes it so much more meaningful that most of his life was spent in company of a loving family who adored him. I can only hope that in his last moments, he was truly at peace and tranquil in his mind and heart, despite the fact that he’d never wake up again. I also take solace in knowing that the state of non-existence my dog currently dwells in is the one we’re all headed towards. Our lives, much like his, are finite and the day we cease to exist is the day we enter the realm of nothingness that more than likely follows. Depressing? I don’t think so. Our finite existence only magnifies that meaning of our lives we chose to espouse, and I think that having my dog’s finite existence within my own finite existence makes it so much more meaningful and significant. The day I enter the nothingness after my own passing is the day I join my dog forever in the state of non-existence, where we’ll never be apart. That being said, do I want to join him right now? No. I still have a finite existence to live out, as granted to me by Nature, and I intend on using that time wisely to bring meaning to other’s lives much like they do for me. The times are rough right now for me, but having the time to think and be alone for the past few days has been good to say the least. I can only hope that I can recover from this in due time.

Lastly, I want to say thank you to the individuals in my life, outside of this university and in this university, who lent support and a shoulder to cry on when my emotions decided to erupt. I don’t care about too many things and I don’t show emotion very regularly, but I’m truly thankful to have helpful and supportive people in my life. So, if you happen to be reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I sincerely mean it.


About Jonathan Morales

I'm currently a second-year history and philosophy undergraduate student at UC Berkeley. Born and raised in Southern California in a community of Mexican-Americans, I've been an atheist since age 16 and have been on the search for answers to life's biggest questions from a secular perspective. My historical interests primarily deal with US international relations in the 20th and 21st century, while my philosophical interests primarily deal with meta-ethics and normative ethics. I am also an Officer Candidate in the Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Class, heading to Officer Candidates School this summer.
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