If and why we Fear Death

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” (Mark Twain)

If someone fears death, is it because of the beliefs and ideas that they hold about what death is and what it means?

I am not afraid of death. I am, however, afraid of any pain or suffering that may be associated with dying. Death happens in a brief moment. The process of dying occurs over time. A person is alive up until that final moment when the heart has stopped and the last breath has been exhaled. It is only an incredible momentary pause whereby a living thing is no longer living. I do not believe I have anything to fear about this moment.

I am comfortable with the uncertainty that life and death brings (when will it happen? will I feel pain? is there an afterlife?). Perhaps, some people are not comfortable with uncertainty since this requires the relinquishing of a sense of control over the events in their life. Some people may fear death simply because it is an aspect of life that they ultimately know they cannot control.

I do not see death as my permanent end. I will continue to live on in many ways through the art I create, the words I write and speak and the paths of others I cross. It warms me to think that when my physical body is no longer alive, the essence of me and who I am will live on for a long long time. Every person, whether 2 months old or 102 years old at their time of death, will touch the lives of other people and live on in ways they can not imagine.

I have shared my beliefs and ideas about what death is and what it means to me. Death is necessary to make life the precious thing that it is. Death is not wrong or bad. Death is not something to be feared. If I believed that death meant that I was to be judged worthy enough of entry into another dimension, then I would probably fear my death. If death meant that it was the absolute ending to me, and nothing of me would remain then I may feel anxious and uncomfortable about death. It is our beliefs and ideas about things that influence how we feel about them. What beliefs and ideas do you hold toward death?

In regards to beliefs about death it is interesting to consider the beliefs that a suicide bomber may hold about death. Certain suicide bombers believe that if they strap themselves with explosives, blow themselves up along with civilians that they will be rewarded by going to an eternal paradise with seventy virgins waiting for their arrival. Do you suppose they fear death?

Simply put, it is the beliefs that a person holds that determines ‘if’ and ‘why’ they will fear death.