Consider a natural cause of death (no car accidents etc) -

Is it true that death is generally preceded by suffering? In other words, are we destined to experience the most severe suffering we could not ever imagine, that will ultimately end with death?

If this is true, is it true for all living things?

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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it about philosophical musings on death and not biology. $\endgroup$ – terdon Jun 18 '15 at 11:29
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    $\begingroup$ That is a very different question. It asks whether a specific cause of death is painful, citing a scientific paper that claims it is not. You are asking whether we can say that in general, death is preceded by suffering. That is really not a good question for the site as it has nothing to do with biology. There are several hundred thousand ways to die. Obviously some will be painful and some will not. I don't see what we can add to that. $\endgroup$ – terdon Jun 18 '15 at 11:34
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    $\begingroup$ I edited the question by stripping it from its fluff. It seems more like a thought, not a biological question. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Jun 18 '15 at 11:59
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    $\begingroup$ @AliceD thank you! :) I really like your edit, you just cut it to the point, this is much better! $\endgroup$ – noncom Jun 18 '15 at 12:00
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    $\begingroup$ No worries, my pleasure :) In this form it may fuel the discussion better as folks are more likely to read a short question than a long one. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Jun 18 '15 at 12:03

No and no.

I'm not sure what is a "natural cause" in this context, but if it's cardiac arrest caused by age-related dystrophy of the cardiac muscles, then no, there is no suffering, at least not universally: Since age-related dystrophy hits all parts of the body, it's likely preceded by increasing amounts of bed rest, leading to quietly drifting off into the great sleep.

Of course, if you add on other natural causes like age-related diseases or being eaten by predators, the suffering can be great indeed, or not: A tiger will sneak up on you and crush your skull without you ever knowing what happened.

Adding on further causes still, like dehydration or hunger, and the suffering is back.

But is suffering a universal fixture of death? Emphatically no.

As for the "all living things" part of the question, the answer isn't just "no"; it's "that's nonsensical".

By individual count, practically no life is complex enough for suffering to be a relevant concept.

I don't have an exact number for you, because how would I get one, but at a rough estimate, bacteria, algae and archea constitute 100% of all individual life forms by count, and suffering is not a concept that makes sense for them.

If we ignore simple life, even among complex life there is so much variety of capabilities that basically nothing universal exists.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think this answer is low quality as it stands so -1, it is just opinions. It would be very useful to get some science in to it. $\endgroup$ – rg255 Jun 18 '15 at 15:25

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