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There are reasons to avoid dying, and high among them is that there are things you want to get done that would be impossible to do if you were gone. If you have developed to an adult level you will have social relationships that can only be done by you personally. Only you can be the father to your children, so you must live to do those things that only a father can do. Only you can fulfill the responsibilities of significant other to your significant others, and only you can be you to your friends, because there is nobody else like you. Of course if you are gone all of those other people can and probably will eventually find replacements for the places you filled in their lives, but at best they will never be you, and where you were there will be a permanent emptiness.

There may be roles in life that only you can fulfill. Many routine roles, like a designated role in a company or the government, will be instantly filled by another person. That person may be momentarily less qualified, but a year later you will not be missed. One easy test of your uniqueness is this: if you called in sick a day before you were supposed to be someplace, would you be replaced?

However, there are physical things that only you can do, and if you don’t do them they will never be done, but only you can know what those things are. These are things in the former paragraph, such as being a father or friend.

We need not worry about the personal eternal vacuum presented by our missing personality after death, which Epicurus stated clearly over two thousand years ago:

Whatsoever causes no annoyance when it is present causes only a groundless pain in the expectation. Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and when death is come, we are not. It is nothing then, either to the living or to the dead, for with the living it is not and the dead exist no longer.

Therefore, from a personal point of view there is no reason to worry about our suffering after death, and usually pain is manageable before death, and if it isn’t you die and needn’t suffer anymore. So it’s not worth much worry.

The things to worry about are the things that you will have left undone, that you really wanted to do, but what are they? Some people make so-called bucket lists of things they want to do before they die. That makes some sense, but the lists usually seem to be adolescent experiences of self-indulgence that can be purchased, but I’m favoring those things that only you can do. The more I ruminate over this it seems:

The best you can do for the world is to help your friends to realize their potentials.

 

 

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