Some things are impossible to imagine, because we have no experience of anything akin to that thing.
This is why, as I noted in a recent blog post, we can't imagine what the cosmos would be like without consciousness existing within it, because our attempt at imagining takes place within our consciousness.
It's also why, no matter how hard I or anyone else may try, we can't imagine what things will be like after we're dead, because our attempt at imagining takes place while we're alive.
So our living consciousness is an inescapable barrier to knowing what, if anything, lies beyond conscious life.
Still, I believe that making an effort to imagine the imaginable can be beneficial, even if the attempt is doomed to failure.
Rather strangely, the older I get (I'm 74), the less concerned I am with pondering my eventual death -- which, as the saying goes, is as certain as taxes. Well, actually a lot more certain, since we can escape taxes but not death.
When I was younger, and a devotee of an Eastern/Indian spiritual teaching that taught either rebirth or union with God awaited us after death, I made the attorney who handled the wills for my wife and I say "When Brian gerbils..." instead of "When Brian dies..." Back then I had a strong fear of non-existence.
I have no idea why I picked the word gerbil for a death substitute.
Maybe it was because we used to have an annoying gerbil when my daughter was young, and I'd wish that it would die a peaceful gerbil death and leave us in peace.
Now, though, I don't think about death nearly as much, even though I've become an atheist. And when I do, the thought, or more accurately a feeling, usually comes over me unbidden. Meaning, spontaneously.
I've written about this now and then -- how I'll be raking leaves, or walking to my Tai Chi class, or doing something else routine, and suddenly I'll have a sudden realization that one day will be the last day I do that activity.
Or any activity. Because I'll be dead.
It's both a weird disturbing feeling and a normal pleasant feeling. Somehow my mind manages to combine both sensations in a single experience.
I don't like the notion that eventually I'll die and be gone forever. As Woody Allen said, "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying." I heartily agree, though sadly, I don't have any way to make that wanting a reality. Nor does anyone else.
What I do enjoy is how a visualization of death, as imperfect an imagining as this may be, leaves me with a deeper appreciation of life.
When that feeling of my eventual death comes over me, it makes my present-day living seem richer, more vibrant, more important. For at least a little while I vow to not sleepwalk through life, since each and every moment of this life is hugely significant compared to the nonexistence of death.
So there's a lot to like about death, as well as a lot to fear. If death were absent from life, seemingly the meaning we derive from our living would be much reduced, since we'd have plenty of time, eternity really, to do anything we wanted.
As it is, we don't know when we'll take our last breath. This lends every moment a certain poignancy. And it makes our problems seem less serious, given that most of us would rather be alive with problems, than dead with no problems.
The exception being a life filled with so much pain and suffering, death appears preferable to life. Some people end up in such a state, and I find it difficult to deny them the right to end their life if that's what they want.