Fear Of Death

Occasionally I am startled by the thought that one day I will die. Perhaps I will go to sleep one night and just not wake up. Perhaps I will be gripped by the searing pain of my heart stopping and it will not restart… Perhaps I will be stabbed or shot and watch the red life force draining out of me… Perhaps I will be weakened by illness until I fade away… Perhaps I will slip and fall from a great hight or perhaps the last thing I will see will be the headlights of the car that crashes into me… The only sure thing is that I will one day, actually, die. Expire. End. Be no more. Cease to exist.

It is not a thought I dwell on. But every once in a while, the brutal reality that all I know and am will come to an end, consumes me for a few anxious seconds. I like being alive. I don’t want it to end.

Perhaps I am not supposed to admit that; being a person of spiritual convictions, but I am human, I have doubts and uncertainties. I believe in reincarnation. I believe there will be some form of progression for my soul. It makes sense to me. But believing is not quite the same as “knowing”. There is a part of me which allows for the possibility that this life really is all there is; and one day, it will end. I don’t particularly like that idea. I am sure there will always be more things I want t do…

But there are worse things than death. For some (perhaps in the end for most of us) death can be a blessing. Suffering comes in many forms and death is certainly preferable to some of those. And I know that sometimes mere existence is not rewarding, it can perhaps be the greatest torture of all.

Over the past few years I have had to watch my mother confront and succumb to early onset dementia. If I ever have to suffer the same thing I hope I can do so with as much courage and dignity as she has. I can barely comprehend the fear and horror she had to live with in the early years of the illness when she was aware that she was going to lose her mind; to lose herself before she died. And now that has more or less happened. When she dies it will be a gut wrenching personal tragedy for me; a loss which will be almost impossible to bare, one I am anticipating but will never be ready for. And yet, for her, I believe death will come as a friend.

Perhaps the truth is that death is always hardest for those left behind; for those who have to suffer the loss.

I don’t know if those occasional moments of panic about my own death will ever go away but the lesson it teaches me is to value life all the more while I have it. That does not mean avoiding all possible risks to my health and mortality. I’ll still run where I could walk, I’ll still fly in aeroplanes, I’ll still ski, I’ll still climb impossible mountains, I’ll still drink and smoke and indulge my senses. I’ll still take risks. I’ll go on learning and experimenting.

I hope death doesn’t catch up with me until I’m old and perhaps ready… But when it does come I want death to be impressed by the amount I have managed to pack into my life. Perhaps then we will walk into the next adventure as friends.

Fear of death probably hits us all sometimes. But we can chose to transmute that fear and use it as a spur. The real danger is that we  not living fully enough.

13 responses to “Fear Of Death

  1. That’s a great post and a subject that I find fascinating. So many people shy away from the topic, but I feel very at ease with it. Maybe a little too much. I actually started wearing a bracelet recently made from Obsidian to try to “ground” me more because I found myself dwelling a bit too much on what lies in store on “the other side” (which I do believe in) that it was distracting me from *this* side!! LOL. I’m still here, so I thought I should focus a bit more on that.

    I have a strange love of old cemeteries and I enjoy reading the old headstones. It’s amazing to me that those people used to be young and vibrant, and now their graves are overgrown with weeds … Poignant, but that’s the cycle of life. I think that we do have another life, and that being buried in the ground when we die is rather like planting a seed. But humans don’t grow out of the ground, so we need to grow inside the belly of a pregnant woman. It would be so much simpler if we could just see the new body growing out of the old grave, but alas, we are not plants.

    I am so sorry about your mother. Life throws such difficulties at us. We hear about it from other people but when it happens to us … well I don’t know if we can ever really be prepared. I watched something about dementia on TV with G recently and he said to me afterwards, “If that ever happens to you, and you look at my face and don’t recognise me, I will still love you. I will love you because I will remember you as you are right now, and those memories will sustain me.” I was actually moved to tears. It sounds like you have many wonderful memories with your mother. I don’t know if those words help, but I thought I’d share them.

    You will keep shining, Cassie. There is light inside of you, and it will never go out. It might move from one place to another, but your light will always burn brightly. 🙂 And when you are afraid that it might go out, well sometimes the dark is a peaceful place to be. But nothing is forever. Wherever there is dark, there will be light again sooner or later. There are fish fossils on mountain tops. That’s my proof! 🙂

  2. La verdad es que a mi me da mucho mas miedo la vejez que la forma en como voy a morir. A mi me gustaria muchisimo poder morir durmiendo, acostarte y un dia ya no despertar. Supongo que debe ser la muerte mas tranquila.

    • ¿Crees que la vejez es más aterrador que la muerte? Estoy de acuerdo! Sorry my Spanish is not very good. I hope I understood you.

      • Ur spanish is pretty good, and yeah! That was my idea. I have more fear to olddest than die, cause when you die everything turns off and maybe could be feel pain but it will be Just for a moment not for years like old people, i mean sickness and stuff like that. My english its to bad :/ sorry!

  3. Reblogged this on Infernal Deity of a Psychotic Mind and commented:
    No one is ever ready to die, yet the fear of dying should not be paralyzing. you are absolutely right when you say that; sometimes death is much more preferable to the pain and suffering one must endure for many reasons.
    Speaking for myself, I’m not afraid of death as much as I’m afraid once I die, I will not leave anything behind to be remembered by. No legacy, not even a glimpse of who I was and what I have done. I guess the ego is much stronger than death itself, though in the end death wins the battle.
    Someday we will all be dust and no matter how much we believe in reincarnation, we’re still miss our former self, if we indeed have any recollection of it at all.
    Death is not the end, and in there lies the irony of it all.

  4. No one is ever ready to die, yet the fear of dying should not be paralyzing. you are absolutely right when you say that; sometimes death is much more preferable to the pain and suffering one must endure for many reasons.
    Speaking for myself, I’m not afraid of death as much as I’m afraid once I die, I will not leave anything behind to be remembered by. No legacy, not even a glimpse of who I was and what I have done. I guess the ego is much stronger than death itself, though in the end death wins the battle.
    Someday we will all be dust and no matter how much we believe in reincarnation, we’re still miss our former self, if we indeed have any recollection of it at all.
    Death is not the end, and in there lies the irony of it all.

  5. A surrender to Death
    changes a man completely.
    Reading Dostoevsky comes close. ♥
    My girlfriend is a medium.
    Nothing at all to fear.

  6. Knowing there’s an end gives me a strange comfort- but I’m strange 😉

  7. I hope I did not come across as trying to evoke pity. This illness will not kill me but limits what I am used to doing. I was just trying to contrast life vs various illnesses vs death and the various attitudes of mind and belief associated with them.

  8. I hear you. No matter what religious beliefs I may have, like reincarnation, I remain an agnostic regarding where if anywhere we go after we die. I envy the Christians and such who believe with conviction that they are going to heaven to be with God, etc. And yes dementia is worse than death and I am sorry about your mum, but then also being fully aware as one watches one’s health deteriorate, as in my condition, is horrid too. Getting up every day is a struggle, but I get up, even if it is just to pee, lol. Having worked for 37 years in emergency and cardiac medicine I have literally worked on and watched die maybe 500-800 people, no exaggeration, and it is seldom pretty. I would rather just slip away into sleep like an opium overdose. Carlos Castaneda said to live always seeing Death as sitting on one’s left shoulder, then just get on with it. And I think that if I die, then what will I miss tomorrow? the beautiful sunrise, the birds at the feeders, the embrace of my lover? Life is better than death because of all of the above, so we just walk forward into tomorrow without fear and with some hope.

    • Sorry to hear about your illness. I hope you’ll have plenty of good reasons to keep getting up which are better than just having a pee! 😉 Who knows maybe those who believe that death is just an opening to something more are correct; in which case it will be a nice surprise. Meanwhile we have to really cling to the beautiful things that make life worth living (like sunrises, birds and lovers) and appreciate them all the more.

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