Have dead people really died if they don't exist?
This is an invalid premise, because people do 'exist' after death.
- Their bodies continue to exist, in a state of decomposition.
- Memories of their lives continue to exist, in others' minds.
- Consciousness may be universal, existing independently (the human brain and body possibly acting as a biological transceiver, simply processing information) -- so it can't die.
In Second Nature, Gerald Edelman defines human consciousness as:
"... what you lose on entering a dreamless deep sleep ... deep anesthesia or coma ... what you regain after emerging from these states.
So if losing and regaining consciousness depends on a person's physical condition, and additionally many people have reported retaining consciousness even while supposedly clinically dead for short periods of time, it stands to reason that consciousness exists with or without a body suitable for processing and expressing thoughts, experiences, and ideas.
Therefore, since people actually do exist in some form after death, they surely had to experience death with all its associated reversals of fortune, in order to end up in that condition.