Touch and Death

Two weeks from today I will be traveling to Toronto to participate in an End of Life Doula training session put on by INELDA. I’m definitely excited to get to Toronto, meet my fellow participants, and explore a new city, but before that happens I need to complete some basic online training. Overall, I’ve found the training so far to be incredibly interesting and it continues to inspire me to enter this line of work in some form. Of all the training videos I’ve watched so far, the one I watched today has really stood out. It has to do with how we want to be touched when dying.

Touch is something that fascinates me. I’m a very tactile person and touch is one of my primary love languages. I love hugging, cuddling, kissing, holding hands, and just being close to people. For me, touch isn’t strongly related to romantic or sexual intimacy, I’d be very comfortable kissing and cuddling with friends (and maybe some strangers). I realize that the puritanic American culture doesn’t really support this kind of physical interaction, particularly among men, and I’ve learned to just go with a handshake and keep my distance from friends. It sucks to have an important part of your life be shunned, but that is the world we live in and I would never violate someone’s consent or personal space just because I want a hug.

Anyway, one of the things I was thinking about is how I would like to be touched if/when I am dying. I gave it a lot of thought and I don’t think it would be particularly different than how I want to be touched now. Cuddling, hugging, hand holding, scalp massaging, etc. would all calm me and make me feel comfortable and accepted. Maybe this part of my nature is why I am planning on specializing in geriatric massage and massage for people with a terminal illness when I go to massage therapy school.

I would actually like to be spooning with someone or laying in their lap at the actual moment of death. I find it interesting how different people can be, but I really can’t imagine anything more peaceful than to leave this existence (probably) surrounded by the warmth of someone who loves me.

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a Snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail about life in general?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
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Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

Memento Mori

I’m probably going to die someday. It is possible that medical technology will advance to the point of immortality before my consciousness disintegrates (or transfers to some other existence), but I’m increasingly doubtful. It is also possible that I have some sort of genetic mutation ala “The Man From Earth” and I’m immortal, but that seems even less likely.

So, I’m probably going to die. But I’m okay with that. I don’t fear death, even if I’m not particularly interested in it happening anytime soon. I used to be terrified of death back when I was a Christian, which is kind of ironic. I’m not sure how close the connection is between my spiritual evolution and my comfort with non-existence, but I can’t help but think they are at least somewhat connected.

Religion didn’t give me much peace because there was always this fear that I wasn’t “truly saved”, that I had fucked up something between baptism and death and would be spending eternity being tortured by red-horned demons. Now that I think about it, that is pretty psychologically scaring, particularly for children.

Death is often on my mind, not as a fear but as motivation. If this is all ephemeral, if can truly “leave life right now” then life is put in perspective. It motivates me to make the most out of my time here, but also not to take things too seriously. It is a source of inspiration to write a book, record a podcast, skydive over Antarctica, and try anal sex…. because if I don’t do it today then I may never get a chance to do it.

But, it is also a way to provide a little modesty. I’m simply not that important. I’m going to die like everyone else. My name will be forgotten. I will return to stardust, just like everyone else. And that is a huge relief. I can enjoy life and the moment for exactly what it is. As Hairy Soul Man says in his Stoic Hedonist sonnet, “Fuck Everything”:

Now I know most of you don’t agree
with my bleak outlook on life
But I say, it’s the thing that sets me free.

Cause I don’t give a shit what you think of me
No, I don’t give any shits
That’s right, I don’t got any shits to give

Now I’m not saying you can’t go out
and live a fantastic life
You totally can!

You just need to remember
You’re not the center of the fucking universe

So I want to celebrate the absolute insignificance of our existence by coming together, coming together to say…

Fuck everything

So, today I will go out and live my life because I might leave tomorrow. That means enjoying the good things that are within my control. I will enjoy time with my partner, go outside for a run, test my body and mind, and enjoy that strawberry even if there is a tiger trying to eat me. Also, I will try and ignore the garbage in the world like the news and most of Facebook and trash TV (unless those things provide some mental health benefits). I may die tomorrow, but that’s okay because my life is been lived. Besides, my death won’t matter to me or anyone else in the long run and it shouldn’t be taken seriously.

If you have a question or comment feel free to use the links below. There is literally nothing that is off-limits. You can also email me if you want a personal response and I won’t post anything publicly if you want privacy.

Sarahah: pneiger.sarahah.com
SurveyMonkey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Email: pjneiger@gmail.com

Oh, and if you get some value out of this I’m always accepting tips and my book is available via the Amazon link below on Kindle and paperback.
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