If and why we Fear Death

Death and our fear of strange and change .

Death is the last unknown. As such, it leaves us wondering what will happen to our conscious essence when we die. We fear the unknown as it is both change and something that is strange or unknown to us. Having seen the white light on the, “other side,” first hand, I can honestly say that I no longer fear death.

It happened like this. I had taken the dog to the woods to let him run early in the morning of the Forth of July a few years ago. The dog needed to run before the fireworks began or he would be frantic and neurotic all evening. I wanted him tired, not neurotic and reacting to the fireworks. I had one of those retractable dog leashes with the big bulky handle. As I walked over some flood washed roots, I tripped over a tree root in the woods and fell forward. The bulky leash handle was still hooked around my hand when I landed on my outstretchedhands. This put rather sudden violent punch of pressure into my palm at the base of my thumb, it in turn hit the radial bone in my left forearm. This had the effect of dislocating my elbow, much the way that cue stick jars a ball into motion on the pool table. This was a very unpleasant experience to say the least. After a few moments of very stressed frantic thinking, I realized that there was a cell phone in my pocket. I called for an assistance. When the ambulance team found me in the woods I was taken to the nearest ER where I was given a shot of morphine for the pain. What a strange spacey feeling that gave me…

By 7:30 at night my arm had been x-rayed and the orthopedist had arrived to look at my poor mangled limb. He asked if I had slept. Since my perception of time had been greatly warped by the morphine, I was thinking that it was not yet noon. My thickly spoken, slow and groggy answer came out, “Aah, I don’t think so.” In fact I had slept in a deep stupor for several hours. Upon hearing my denial he felt that I needed more morphine to perform the necessary procedure on my arm. The last thing I remember was the ER nurse squeezing the IV bag to speed the drug into my vein. Than I was out. I do remember saying something to the doctor to the effect that he should please stop because my arm was not supposed to move like that. He must have been freeing my elbow and been pulling and turning my forearm to re-seat it in the joint.

It was than I saw that lovely white light. It contained a rainbow of color but somehow remained white. In retrospect I can only compare it to the fire in Depression Milk Glass when it is held up to the sun. It was warm, friendly and inviting but very far away and up to the right of my field of vision. I remember that when I awoke my uninjured arm and my chest both hurt pretty badly. The nurse told me later that I stopped breathing and that my “PO2”, the level of oxygen in my blood, dropped dangerously. They had been knuckle rubbing my chest to stimulate me to breath, and trying desperately to find a pulse on my uninjured arm while they used the ambu-bag on me to facilitate air exchange in my lungs since I was too drugged to do that on my own. My un-injured arm was covered with bruises from my wrist to my armpit and pretty sore from their aggressive pulse searches. My chest developed a few nasty bruises later too.

The entire experience was a bit frightening, to think it all could be brought on by the fact that I was not monitored for sleep while I was waiting for the doc to set the arm. To think they believed my thick tongued drugged answer when they questioned me about sleep. Yes they were fools and I will never go to that ER again.

On the whole, I learned that, although I am not ready to die yet, I know now that death is not a frightening experience but rather a calm and simple welcomed passage from here to there. I no longer fear what is no longer unknown.