Wednesday, May 28, 2014
The big D word....
Why do people fear death? It's frightening for a person to think of complete nonexistence, of just stopping to live, of.... nothing. Even as I write this, I can feel that weird pressure associated with anxiety welling up in my chest. But why be afraid? We know that death is inevitable -- so why worry about it?
I remember the first real experience I ever had with death. One of my dear friends committed suicide when I was 17. I walked up to the casket as my friend laid there, completely motionless and colorless. It was so surreal. I kept expecting him to wake up, like it was a big joke. Two years later, I watched my grandmother lose her battle with a brain aneurysm after an accident and three days in a coma. She was laying in that hospital, completely motionless, as the machine started to slow before finally hitting the single tone. A tear rolled down her cheek, and I knew that she was off to wherever we end up next.
From there, it's been a long list of friends who have committed suicide, overdosed, and lost battles with cancer, but those two experiences will forever be burned into my mind's eye. Maybe because of the severity of the trauma related to the experience, maybe because I was so close to them. Who knows....
But why do we fear death? We know it will be coming... we know that at any moment, we're done.... so why the fear? Is it because we have so many things that we want to do with our lives, but are forced to live mundane existences? Is it the suddenness of it? The fact that we have no way to determine where or when we will go? Is it because we don't know what happens afterward?
Maybe it's the fact that death is so abrupt... it's like a little ninja, randomly sneaks up on you (unless you have the unlucky fortune of getting a terminal disease), and bam.... nothing. Or at least that's what we know for a fact. The heart stops, the lungs stop, the brain stops, and the bowels let go. Other than that, no one knows. There's theories, ideas, suggestions... but nothing substantial.
My biggest issue is that I am conflicted... I am a spiritual person, with my own beliefs about what happens after death, but that little scientific scholarly voice in my head keeps asking, are you sure? But we can never really be sure 100%, can we? Hell, even birth control medication only has a 99.9% success rate.
Some day, I will experience this next step in life (hopefully not that soon), and I will, for sure, know what happens, and finally be free from the fear. Until then, I can only hope to live each day to the best of my abilities, and hope that the sun rises for me the next day. Maybe the fear will subside...
"The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time." -- Mark Twain