As an atheist it is my simple belief that you never know when you are dead. The logic is that you only know anything whilst you are alive. Once you are dead you cease to exist, so there is no you to ‘know’ anything.
I am extremely uneasy about eventually no longer existing. I enjoy being me, despite a lot of it having been quite shit.
I’ve not really considered my opinion on the concept of knowing that I was dying within the next ten minutes, and whether or not I should experience those minutes alone or with somebody. I would imagine that for me, I would be rather self obsessed and centred on how awful it was that I was about to terminate this marvellous experience. Maybe I would like the comfort of an accompanying and surviving human. Maybe I wouldn’t. And, in the end, at the end, it doesn’t really matter, does it?
However, these are my own views about me, me, me. We are all different.
So, let’s talk about those who are dying due to having been blown-up by a terrorist suicide bombing. Some will be instantly terminated by being blown to bits, of course.
Others will have such extreme damage that they will take a few moments, a quick few minutes, to finally reach termination.
And then there are others who will somewhat slowly bleed out, or die from organ destruction. Their death, whilst definite and inescapable, may take 20 minutes, an hour, a couple of hours.
Despite also being in extreme pain and discomfort from their wounds, feeling paranoia and fear, life takes a little longer to ebb away.
When a bomb goes off, such as the one in Manchester, there will be victims that cannot be saved, are currently alive, yet are dying, in extreme pain. They will cry, scream, call out, and, maybe, at times, talk to those that are around them.
In the case of Manchester’s victims, there were unharmed passers by, or unharmed, somehow, people who had, somehow, been missed by the red hot searing nuts and bolts. Somehow.
It was these folk who stepped forward to attend to the dying. It was these folk who were left for up to an hour in the situation before it was deemed safe for professional first responders to swarm in.
Ordinary untrained people trying to stem the blood pouring from the victims, trying to comfort them, trying to lie to them by using phrases like ‘you’re going to be ok’ ‘don’t worry’ ‘everything’s going to be alright’ and on and on and on.
Some were on the phone to the emergency services being talked through what to try to do next, knowing it was pointless. Some were giving their phones to the dying to say goodbye to loved ones, especially, mum, even though nobody said it was time to say goodbye.
As the blood in their body runs dry, or the poisoning from their destroyed organs takes hold, they leave consciousness. Whilst probably just about able to hear what they are leaving behind for a few minutes, this is it. Some will stop breathing, cease fidgeting, and have their heart stop beating quite quickly, others will take a little longer. However, all will arrive at that ultimate point of termination, accompanied by somebody who has been with them as a ‘comforter’.
So, is it a privilege to be the ‘comforter’ as somebody else is dying in such an unexpected fashion?
Were those who cradled the dying, spoke to them, cried with them, promised them so many things, and covered their own clothes and skin with the victim’s blood and bodily fluids, ‘privileged’ to be there?
Knowing that there was nothing to be done except ‘comfort’ as the life of a young person becomes extinct burns into a memory that will never fade, and should never fade.
But should it hurt so?