The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.
Did ya really think so you wonderful and wise guru of mine. When it came down to your last minutes on this silly bit of fundament weren’t you scared a little bit shitless?
I have been debating how to approach this blog for a few days now. Death has been around a bit of late and it has been a far from amusing thing. So, rather than being excessively morbid I simply decided to explore the topic.
In fact, I have had two people within the scope of my life die in the past month or so. Well, they were in the scope of a lot of people’s lives, but they were also in mine. Shan’t go into details about the circumstances of their demises other than both were much too young. Anybody younger than I am is too young, and they were considerably younger than I. Both deaths hit me hard even though by my age I am not a stranger to death. That neither of them deserved to die goes without saying and that compounds my grief over them. But those same thoughts apply to anybody we lose — permanently.
You might notice that I used the terms ‘dying, death, and dead’ and that is a carryover from my days of writing obituaries for the newspaper. And there it is a taboo to use such sanitary euphemisms as ‘passed away, passed on,” or the modern term ‘passed’. “If a person died they died, don’t pretend anything else happened,” said my editor of the day. He was right. The other terms are a matter of refusing to face the reality.
Death has a number of meanings for us as individuals. If the person was family, or dear friend, or even acquaintance, we will miss their presence in our lives. Some deaths, like spouses, parents, or especially children stagger us and in many cases life will not be the same again.
When I once offered condolences to my late mother-in-law when one of her favorite siblings had died, she said: “Every death in the family just diminishes me a little bit.” It is said that if you have a religious faith it makes it all easier. Maybe it does. No atheists in foxholes, as it were. Strikes me though that the devout mourn as much as anybody does. We need to. It’s part of the process that enables the rest of us to carry on.
That’s pretty much true. A best friend died accidentally and hence unexpectedly, when I was in my late 30s. I have always felt a bit diminished since that time and I still miss him. I miss him because I liked him so very much. We don’t get an excess of such people in our lives.
The most poignant aspect of the death of somebody close is that it cannot help but remind us of our own mortality. If our cylinders are functioning as they should, none of us welcomes the thought of our own demise, even though we cannot help but be left with the thought of “why them, rather than me?” Well, no clear cut answer to that me buckos or buckettes.
Do you ever find yourself looking at the obituaries? If you are younger than 40, probably not. Once you enter the realm of middle age it becomes a part of your regular reading and, if you are like me, you hate reading an obit of somebody younger than you are. It scares you just a tad. No, I want all my obits to concern older people – preferably past their centennial mark and I want them to have been death-defying boozers and chain-smokers who defied all the odds. If somebody younger dies I want it to be because he/she was riding a unicycle across the Grand Canyon.
Am I afraid of death? I’m not certain. I am unnerved by the concept of no longer being. So, no, I don’t want to die and I will confess in light of the foregoing I have been thinking about it a bit. Got to try to adhere to the wisdom of Twain.