Fear of Death

Death happens. We may be able to postpone it with healthy habits and by resisting risky or reckless behaviors, but ultimately, it can’t be stopped. One day, each and every one of our lives will end, and there is nothing we can do about it. That’s just the way it is. Our bodies were designed to last for a finite amount of time; for when we die, we make room for future generations to follow. Billions of individuals have already preceded us in death, and this cycle of life and death will continue until our species becomes extinct.

So why do some people fear death while others do not? One can be fascinated by the prospect of death; just as an explorer about to embark on a journey to an unknown destination, but this must not be confused with fear. We can reasonably assume that the overwhelming majority of humanity falls into the category of being afraid. The fear of death is a fear of the unknown. This is a trait shared by all of us. No living person can know for certain exactly what happens when our time arrives. Those who have strong religious convictions and have been taught that an eternal Paradise awaits the righteous while an endless existence of despair and torment has been reserved for evil-doers may profess that they have an unshakable faith, but surely; imbedded deep within the confines of some of their collective consciousnesses, there could very well be a trace; however minute, of doubt. That pressing question of, “What if the church is wrong?” may refuse to go away.

And why is this so? It is because no proof exists.

Others who do not believe in any form of an afterlife say that death represents the end of everything. All of our thoughts, our memories, our dreams, are permanently erased as we return to an eternity of nonexistence; such as that which transpired before our birth. Naturally, those who hold to this philosophy will fear death, because they have become comfortably accustomed to living and breathing. The prospect of dying and thus returning to a state of nonexistence is not an appealing one. When you really stop to think about it, wouldn’t we all agree that it kind of sucks to realize that after billions upon billions of years, we’re finally born and given the gift of life; only to have it taken away some 80 or so years later? What kind of deal is that? So of course those who fall into this group will likewise be afraid to die.

In the whole of humanity, those who truly don’t fear death make up only a small handful. Those who are severely depressed and feel they have nothing to live for will look forward to death. A terminally ill cancer patient in his/her final stages of the disease may be experiencing such excruciating pain that death will be welcome. Similarly, an elderly person crippled with arthritis and confined to a wheelchair who has nothing to look forward to but another day in a nursing home may wish to embrace death. As we progress from middle age to senior citizen status, we realize that most of our life is now behind us. We begin to accept our mortality, and although we may still fear the inevitable, it nevertheless takes a bit of the sting out of the reality that is death.

There are several possibilities and theories as to what happens after we die, but we will not know the outcome until we experience it for ourselves. Until then, death will remain a mystery. Of one thing we can be certain:

We’ll be in great company.