If and why we Fear Death

Those of us that have religious faith will pretend that we do not fear death. We practice our religions and we say we believe in the After Life, Life Eternal, and Heaven. We tell ourselves that we believe in God and we try to believe that He will take care of us. We say we know our time here on Earth is short and that the greater rewards will come after our death.

And then we go to great extremes to avoid death. We exercise, diet, and worry about all the things that might make us sick. We clean and sterilize and sanitize. We make sure we are inoculated and vaccinated. We slather ourselves with lotions and creams to avoid sun damage, while still trying to have that “healthy glow.” We make annual treks to the clinic for expensive tests, praying the doctors find nothing.

Yes, we fear death. But, perhaps what we fear even more than death is the end of life process.

As humans we are used to being in control. That’s why we go to such extremes to be healthy. And we also spend an enormous amount of time and money preparing for death. We write our wills. We make investment arrangements. We select a burial plot. We do all of these things because doing so makes us feel that we have some control. But, we have all known, or at least heard of someone, that spent months or years suffering, unable to make decisions for themselves, unable to control their body functions. They just existed, in pain, until the end. And none of us want to risk that kind of agonizing death.

What we want is to live life as fully and completely as possible, and when the end of this life comes, we want that ending to occur quietly and painlessly while we sleep. And even then we have stipulations and conditions and expectations. We want the people we leave behind to miss us, but not mourn us for too long. We want the people we leave behind to be cared for and comfortable. We want to leave something of ourselves behind as well, a legacy of sorts, so that we are never forgotten.

Yes, we say we accept God and His will. We say it, but we fear the reality and the finality of death. We fear it because no matter how we try, we can not avoid death completely. There is no other option. You can’t renew your contract on life. When it is time to go, that’s it.

Yes, we fear death. And that too is why we embrace religion. At least the act of praying helps us to feel that we still have some element of control. If nothing else, we pray that God will give us the strength to accept our mortality.

Then, after we have finished our prayer, we will drink bottled water, eat the organic fruit, take our power walks, visit the doctor regularly, sanitize our surroundings and continue to do all we can to avoid the inevitable – death.