Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

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Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Sabredog » Thu Jul 09, 2015 10:03 am UTC

It's indescribably horrifying. Any of us could have a congenital heart defect, or an aneurysm, or some other biological time-bomb just waiting to go off that we're unaware of. One day, you wake up and go about your life as usual, completely oblivious that it will be your last day, completely without any foresight that your sentience is about to be snuffed out. All your memories, ideas, plans, fears, skills, dreams--wiped out in an instant. And your meat wagon will be cold, rigid and lifeless on a gurney somewhere while some pathologist cuts you open and performs and autopsy.

The proverbial bus comes to mind, but this is more disturbing, because nothing, really, can be done about it. You cannot be more careful when crossing the road of your biological destruction (beyond not letting yourself, say, get obese, or abusing steroids, or overdosing). I know the odds of sudden death are statistically low and you should not live your life in fear, but rare things are inevitable, it does happen, and it's hard to overstate how awful such a thing would be. I think most of us filter our lives through a glaze-like cognitive anaesthetic that gives us emotional distance from the horror of death. I rarely think about my own premature death, or the premature, sudden death of someone I love, but occasionally the absolute, ineffable horror of it washes over me.

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby PeteP » Thu Jul 09, 2015 10:37 am UTC

Not particularly no. Though I don't find nothingness after death scary. Afterall I won't care about being dead, I won't feel anything good or bad since I won't exist anymore. I find it a comforting thought that no matter what happens my existence will end sooner or later. Of course it can suck that you miss out on stuff because of it and it's sad for the living, but death itself is not a scary fate. But I digress.

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby ObsessoMom » Thu Jul 09, 2015 3:14 pm UTC

Having recently watched a close friend lose a really horrifically painful battle with cancer which lasted nine months and wiped out the financial resources of his grieving family, I'm really hoping for a sudden and completely unexpected death, myself. Sounds like a great way to go. No suffering, no dread, just Game Over. Awesome.

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby mathmannix » Thu Jul 09, 2015 3:15 pm UTC

On the other hand, I am not afraid because I am confident that I will be in heaven along with those I love. I think the only people who logically should be afraid of death are the people who believe in heaven and hell, and that they are going to the latter. But most people that believe in heaven assume they will be there...
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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Sabredog » Thu Jul 09, 2015 4:24 pm UTC

PeteP wrote:Not particularly no. Though I don't find nothingness after death scary. Afterall I won't care about being dead, I won't feel anything good or bad since I won't exist anymore. I find it a comforting thought that no matter what happens my existence will end sooner or later. Of course it can suck that you miss out on stuff because of it and it's sad for the living, but death itself is not a scary fate. But I digress.


In a sense I agree with you, but in another sense I think you are just not allowing yourself to feel the full impact of death hard enough, just like myself, just like most of us. If I pointed a loaded gun at your head and you knew I was going to shoot you, you would invariably, and literally, shit your pants. You would not act like Jack Bauer or John McClane, you would shake and cry, while snot and tears dribble from your face and shit and piss dribbles down your leg. Cognitively you know that once I shoot you, you're probably going to be dead instantly and you won't have anything to fear then, because you'll feel nothing. But when you are face to face with the grim reaper, unable to rationalise it away, you are unlikely be blase about it.

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby PeteP » Thu Jul 09, 2015 4:27 pm UTC

For me that is just sounds like confusing survival instincts with fearing what comes after death.

Though I guess it is relevant to fear of unpredictable low probability events. Which sounds like it's unpleasant based on your opening post I hope it doesn't happen to you all that often.

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jul 09, 2015 4:48 pm UTC

Not sudden death, but old age and dying of it terrifies me. I like existing, and dislike the notion of not existing.
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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Whizbang » Thu Jul 09, 2015 4:59 pm UTC

For me, dementia and Alzheimer's disease are what I dread. Though "dread" is a strong word because I am still fairly young and have no known increase of risk for those over the average. But, still, the thought of slowly losing my ability to think and decide for myself unsettles me somewhat.

I've been in a couple brushes with death (nothing dramatic, just a car accident that seemed like the end at the time and then a harrowing fall that left me bruised but not broken while hiking), and neither time was I truly afraid. A moment or two of "Oh shit!", then, "Wow, that was exciting and painful!".

But the thought of being severely disabled mentally or physically does give me pause.

On the other hand, my wife's nephew has brain damage from a car accident and went from a total vegetable to being able to get around and interact with people over the course of a few years, though he does still need a constant care-taker, and he seems happy enough, if drastically changed from who he was.

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby PeteP » Thu Jul 09, 2015 5:09 pm UTC

Oh yeah something damaging my mind is scary. Not something I actively dread because I don't tend to worry much over things that could happen if the chance isn't fairly high (events that would happen soon can be a bit less likely than long-term fears though). But it's something I do find scary. Being fully paralyzed or in a waking coma is scary too.

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jul 09, 2015 5:26 pm UTC

I work on ALS/Alzheimers. I am pretty confident a cure/treatment will be available within 20 years.

I like the idea of treating gerontological issues as diseases, not inevitable conditions.
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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby speising » Thu Jul 09, 2015 5:33 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I work on ALS/Alzheimers. I am pretty confident a cure/treatment will be available within 20 years.

Sadly, his applies: https://xkcd.com/678/

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jul 09, 2015 5:58 pm UTC

Perhaps off topic -

I was talking to a friend the other day about 'non-normative relationships', and we were discussing how much of our 'standards' for relationships are shaped by a bunch of fixed truths about humans. Such as 'humans live to about 80 on average' and 'reproduction requires a male and a female' and 'raising children is expensive' and 'raising a child takes approximately 20 years' and 'dying of old age around 80 years of age is lonely and scary'. These givens have influenced relationships and prevented most people from seeing what other relationships can be.

For example, a child doesn't have to be raised by it's biological parents, so, same sex couples are obviously just as capable of child rearing. If humans lived beyond 80 years, raising a child might not represent a chunk of their lives, and we might start seeing more people splitting up with their child rearing partner after the children have attained independence. If we were better at treating old age, people might not decide to stay with their partner out of fear of dying alone, because hey, who knows, maybe you'll find another partner sometime in the next 100 years.

Anyway... I think mortality is an interesting facet of the human condition, but I don't see why we have to limit that to a little less than a century.
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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Whizbang » Thu Jul 09, 2015 7:18 pm UTC

Peter F Hamilton's "The Commonwealth Saga" touches on this. With rejuvination and perfect cloning and reproduction of memories (in the case of body-loss), people are essentially immortal. This affects people's ideas of marriage and a whole range of commitments. "First-lifers" are people who have not gone through rejuvination, and often treated as little more than children, though they are responsible for their own lives and have to pay taxes and bills and whatnot. Anyway, when a person goes through rejuvination, many people see this as an excuse to cut all or most ties with thier current life and start over. Many marriages end at rejuv. People change carreers or move to another planet. People very much treat it as if they had died and been reborn. It is the rare exception when people stay married over the course of multiple lifetimes.

Another thing that happens in the novels is that people are a lot more daring. After all, if they are killed they will just be cloned and have all of their memories, up to and including their last moments (except where the memory device in the brain is damaged beyond recovery, in which case a backup from the previous day is used).
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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Draconaes » Thu Jul 09, 2015 7:21 pm UTC

I'm less afraid of sudden death than suddenly dying. Dying will be either terrifying or painful (hopefully not both), unless it happens while I'm unconscious, but I don't fear the "being dead" that will ensue afterward. I can easily picture myself being terrified (probably into denial) if I became aware that I was about to die, but until that point comes I'm not bothered by it.

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby You, sir, name? » Thu Jul 09, 2015 7:35 pm UTC

speising wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:I work on ALS/Alzheimers. I am pretty confident a cure/treatment will be available within 20 years.

Sadly, his applies: https://xkcd.com/678/


Fusion energy has been 20 years away for 60 years :-(
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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jul 09, 2015 7:47 pm UTC

Terrified, no. Only spiders rank that highly.

It's a rational concern, however. A sudden death would leave things unsatisfyingly unfinished, and provides no real opportunity to fix whatever's wrong. I certainly don't want to die...though a slow death isn't really very attractive either. Death is kind of a big deal to people, of course. No doubt after it's finally fixed up, we'll see all manner of changes. I'm excited to see what those are, if it happens before I fall over dead, and get frozen. Or if it turns out we CAN pull people outta cryogenics one day.

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby You, sir, name? » Thu Jul 09, 2015 7:54 pm UTC

I stopped being afraid of things when I had an epiphany about the nature of existence that made me re-evaluate my relationship with the universe. I'm not living in the universe, I'm a part and consequence of the universe, and so is everyone and everything.

When you realize other people, even though you may not be able to perceive what they do and vice versa, are part of the same greater thing as you -- and you really identify with this "thing"; the universe, cosmos, reality, whatever you want to call it -- what happens to you really doesn't matter all that much anymore, does it?
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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jul 09, 2015 8:09 pm UTC

Oh, sure it matters, to me.

Fear just isn't usually very helpful. And often irrational. So, it's a good thing to tamp down on and get rid of. I can continue to avoid death without needing to live in fear of it. Probably easier, in fact. Stress is generally terrible for ya.

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Sabredog » Fri Jul 10, 2015 11:38 am UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:I stopped being afraid of things when I had an epiphany about the nature of existence that made me re-evaluate my relationship with the universe. I'm not living in the universe, I'm a part and consequence of the universe, and so is everyone and everything.

When you realize other people, even though you may not be able to perceive what they do and vice versa, are part of the same greater thing as you -- and you really identify with this "thing"; the universe, cosmos, reality, whatever you want to call it -- what happens to you really doesn't matter all that much anymore, does it?


This is interesting. I never understood this logic. How does your last idea follow from that? To me it's a non sequitir. Why is it that the origin of the physical stuff that composes your body means what happens to that stuff doesn't matter?

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Jul 10, 2015 2:06 pm UTC

Because it means the stuff doesn't stop when you die, rather it's going to eventually be recycled.
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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jul 10, 2015 3:28 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Because it means the stuff doesn't stop when you die, rather it's going to eventually be recycled.


Yes. But the same is true of poop, and that isn't *me*.

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Jul 10, 2015 3:57 pm UTC

Isn't it? We're mostly foreign bacteria anyway, and poop is mostly bacteria and bacteria poop (poopception!) so the purest you is your poop.

At any rate, that's the usual rationality I've read for such beliefs - the belief of the eternal particles and how you were something else before and now you're you and when you're dead your parts will continue on as other things.
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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Chen » Fri Jul 10, 2015 4:53 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Isn't it? We're mostly foreign bacteria anyway, and poop is mostly bacteria and bacteria poop (poopception!) so the purest you is your poop.

At any rate, that's the usual rationality I've read for such beliefs - the belief of the eternal particles and how you were something else before and now you're you and when you're dead your parts will continue on as other things.


That seems like small consolation of those other things don't allow me to continue my consciousness. I mean if people ate your body after you died would that make you feel better about dying? What about if it was burned to keep other people warm?

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jul 10, 2015 4:56 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Isn't it? We're mostly foreign bacteria anyway, and poop is mostly bacteria and bacteria poop (poopception!) so the purest you is your poop.


We've got a good bit of water as well, but folks don't generally see using the urinal as taking a journey into the sewer system. The concept of "you" is highly associated with your persona, not every bit of matter that happens to be along for the ride for a time.

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Jul 10, 2015 5:09 pm UTC

Chen wrote:
SecondTalon wrote:Isn't it? We're mostly foreign bacteria anyway, and poop is mostly bacteria and bacteria poop (poopception!) so the purest you is your poop.

At any rate, that's the usual rationality I've read for such beliefs - the belief of the eternal particles and how you were something else before and now you're you and when you're dead your parts will continue on as other things.


That seems like small consolation of those other things don't allow me to continue my consciousness. I mean if people ate your body after you died would that make you feel better about dying? What about if it was burned to keep other people warm?

It would me. But I also want whatever organs can be used to be ripped out and send to whoever can use them and the rest fed to scavengers. If I can also be converted to fuel, go for it.

Tyndmyr wrote:
SecondTalon wrote:Isn't it? We're mostly foreign bacteria anyway, and poop is mostly bacteria and bacteria poop (poopception!) so the purest you is your poop.


We've got a good bit of water as well, but folks don't generally see using the urinal as taking a journey into the sewer system. The concept of "you" is highly associated with your persona, not every bit of matter that happens to be along for the ride for a time.
Ah, I'm mostly poking fun at people who talk about being made of stars. Technically true, I suppose, but so's being made of poop.
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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Neil_Boekend » Fri Jul 10, 2015 5:17 pm UTC

We're all about 60% dinosaur pee
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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Link » Fri Jul 10, 2015 10:15 pm UTC

ObsessoMom wrote:I'm really hoping for a sudden and completely unexpected death, myself. Sounds like a great way to go. No suffering, no dread, just Game Over. Awesome.
Agreed. Since I have yet to see any shred of evidence that death is anything other than simply "lights out, now there's nothing", I don't fear it. Pain, illness and mental degradation, on the other hand, are terrifying. In fact, of all the myriad ways this crap-heel 'verse can end you, "unexpectedly and instantaneously" is damn near the only one I am comfortable with.

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby FierceContinent » Sun Jul 12, 2015 2:14 pm UTC

I'm more scared of going bald than chest pains.


And here something else.
98% of your atoms are replaced every year. The only atoms that are not replaced are in tooth enamel, in your eye lens crystaline proteins and in dna in brain cells

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Jorpho » Tue Jul 14, 2015 12:48 am UTC

May I suggest https://vimeo.com/107395294 ? You can go forward to 2:33 if you like, but I would suggest watching the whole thing; George Takei is such a soothing narrator.

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby existential_elevator » Sat Aug 22, 2015 1:54 pm UTC

There have been quite a few sudden, and painful, deaths in my extended circles over the last few years, all equally tragic and absurd. Sudden death is the worst, and the worst for everyone. There is no closure. It just happens, out of the blue, and everyone sits around feeling shocked and confused. You leave people you love behind, inconsolate, trying desperately to make sense of the situation. Even people like me - two or three degrees removed - feel the shock of the sudden loss of an infant, the unexpected heart attack of a life partner, the unforseen loss of a parent. Worse still when it involves accidents, because then anger and helplessness have something to flow in to, and it gets messier and messier.

No, it is far far better to die after some kind of illness. It is far better to have time to come to terms with your own fate, and for your kin to get closure on the things that they need.

That kind of loss terrifies me, utterly.

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Sableagle » Wed Sep 02, 2015 10:30 pm UTC

I was asked once, when hiking alone, whether I was afraid of something going wrong. After a long sequence of "what if" questions that barely stopped short of "what if velociraptors eat your limbs and your eyelids and sew your lips shut" in their determination to make up a horrible situation, I found an answer to give them:

I'm much more afraid of waking up one day, 80 years old, bald, bent, shaky and forgetful, my continued existence of benefit to nobody, not even myself, with no memories of anything but trips not made, places not visited and chances not taken.

Given the choice of having a great time and knowing for sure you'd die in your 50th year or living in a padded-cell lunatic asylum for 200 years, which would you choose? If you could go back to age 10 now, have a lot of fun and die somewhere in your 30s or go back to age 10 now, go into a big hospital and live in your safe, clean room for 400 years with no way out, ever, not even by suicide, which would you choose?

Sure, I want to be able to tidy stuff up before I go, but it won't bother me once I'm gone if I haven't tidied up. Ideal way out? Totally unexpected .50 BMG to the brainstem while strolling nude in wolf country. No funeral required. (Well, okay, skydiving onto Tony Blair, wearing a rucksack with 10l of nitroglycerine in it instead of a parachute, while he's meeting a tyrannical ~stani client, Bill O'Reilly and a bunch of Indian rapists does have a certain appeal, too.)
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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Bloopy » Wed Sep 02, 2015 11:46 pm UTC

I'm not terrified so long as it's statistically unlikely, but ask me again when I'm in my 60s. The slight hole in my heart was found and fixed a couple of years ago, which is helpful!

The thing that freaks me out a bit is the idea of planning for retiring when you're 65+. People seem to place more importance on that than on enjoying the life they have now.

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby D. Koski » Mon Sep 07, 2015 7:07 am UTC

You know, I'm not depressed or anything, but honestly the thought I'm going to die suddenly would be alright. I'd be afraid of living a long time in a helpless state of agony, that's for sure.

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Sableagle » Sat Sep 12, 2015 11:17 am UTC

Sableagle wrote:If you could go back to age 10 now, have a lot of fun and die somewhere in your 30s or go back to age 10 now, go into a big hospital and live in your safe, clean room for 400 years with no way out, ever, not even by suicide, which would you choose?
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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby Totenkindly » Mon Oct 12, 2015 2:14 am UTC

I can see value in many of the responses.

Like many, I don't anticipate with pleasure the thought of dwindling slowly, either in pain or worse being unable to care for myself. The thought of needing to be entirely dependent on others even for the basics of life is unsettling -- I'd feel bad to be an imposition on others, and I'd be very frustrated at losing my capability for self-care and perhaps even doing anything I enjoy. My grandfather lived two years past my grandmother in the care facility and finally died when he was 95; but he was blind, could barely hear, couldn't walk, and had trouble taking care of his basic needs. He had been a wrestler and a coach when younger, so while he maintained a generally positive outlook, i can't imagine what it felt like to be in the position he was in, being generally alone after losing a spouse of many many years and not having much sensory input from the world. I think I'd rather have died, myself, than lived in that state.

Dying suddenly for me, if there is no consciousness after, would simply mean I would cease to be aware... so it doesn't much impact me personally. But it would impact the people in my life. The thought gives me added incentive to maintain a connection with others to the degree that everything I need to say has already been said, so that the closure lost for them would be minimized. And not to allow rifts to persist. My father was good at holding grudges even with members of his family; unfortunately, he was upset with me over a life choice I'd made and had rebuffed attempts to communicate on my part for close to the last five years of his life. His death happened two years ago, and some days I'm fine and other days I feel negative emotions, whether anger, sadness, frustration, etc., because we had not been able to resolve things and end on a good note. It reminds me to not allow that kind of thing to persist in other relationships. Losing someone is hard, but at least if there was love there (and expressed), there are good feelings and it's only missing someone, versus the huge rift of an enmity that now can never be repaired.

I'm getting older and feel my age more, so I think more about this kind of thing more often. When I was younger, it was easy to set everything aside and get caught up in things of interest, but now it's more time to get the house in order, just in case and/or for when things inevitably do draw to a close.

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Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby FierceContinent » Mon Oct 12, 2015 9:05 pm UTC

Grudges are not something to be proud of.
Thank you for sharing.
The greatest Science Hero is almost certainly Norman Borlaug. His selectively bred crops have saved many, many people from starvation.
Just to be clear, the number of lives Norman Borlaug is credited with saving is in the BILLIONS.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ScienceHero

schapel
Posts: 244
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:33 am UTC

Re: Anyone else terrified by sudden death?

Postby schapel » Tue Oct 13, 2015 1:56 pm UTC

Sabredog wrote:It's indescribably horrifying.

Seems fine to me. I'd rather go that way. A slow, agonizing death is what I'm terrified of. I'm not really afraid of death at all, but the suffering on the way there.


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