Fear of Death

It is programmed in human nature to fear that which we do not know. We define ourselves by our knowledge, our intelligence. Descartes summed it up well with his famous phrase “I think, therefore I am.” Taken one step further, it could also be deemed true that we only ARE because of the ability of our intelligence to realize it. Thus people are afraid of death because they base their very lives on what they know. There are very few types of people who are not afraid of dying: the doubtlessly religious, the painfully desperate, and the unshakable martyrs.
Those who are religious enough to live without a shadow of doubt will never be afraid of death. In Act 3 Scene one, Hamlet professes that it is our conscious that makes cowards of us all. It is our human fear that what comes after life might NOT be better than what we have now that makes us afraid of it. Yet the truly religious do not have this doubt.
The painfully desperate will also never have cause to fear death. Once a person is past the point where life is tolerable anything, even nothing, seems like a better alternative. So they face death knowing that even if there IS nothing after death, nonexistence would be better than the life they currently lead.
The third type of people who will not fear death are those who are so stubbornly devoted to a cause that their own fate is inconsequential to them. To these people, death is merely a means to an end. Sometimes they are also desperate or religious, but oftentimes it is purely the passion of what they believe in that drives them to be willing to sacrifice themselves for their cause.
Most people will never understand what it feels like to look death in the face and be unafraid, unmoved, or even relieved. That does not make them any more cowardly than those who do not fear death, in fact it makes them more human. It is only those who find a cause outside of human existence to believe in that can truly be unafraid of death. Otherwise all that we can see is the darkness of the unknown looming ahead of us. And it is not the darkness that frightens us. It is the fact that there could be horrors, pain, or nothing at all in that darkness that we are really afraid of.