How can someone overcome the fear of death? People who have lived long lives or are terminally ill face that reality. How can you appreciate life despite mortality?
Ah. Now, this one’s a conundrum. First, I want to preface this by saying I’m a depressive and I have these thoughts nearly every day, even on good days. I keep death close to me, and I often view things through a concept of finality. The reason I usually say “good bye” to people when I’m about to leave is because I keep in mind that this could possibly be the last time I ever see them, for one reason or another. The reason I usually avoid conflict and try to treat people with gentleness is because I don’t want to take for granted that they’re always going to be around, and in my own way, I’m in a constant state of mourning for what is and what will one day no longer be. Finality is something that haunts me as it always lingers, even if I don’t let it dictate all of my behavior or plans for the future.
Now, part of the reason I’m not 86’d yet is because I do have plans. There are things and people, even in my immediate future, which excite and exhaust me and I’m going to have to stick around for them. Despite that, it’s still pretty tough, and letdowns and setbacks hit me harder than most normal people, and proving I deserve to exist is a sad but real motivation for me. But for those who are terminally ill, or life is otherwise so excruciating that living on is painful? That is difficult for me to approach. I haven’t been in such debilitating agony with a ticking clock looming overhead. Some people, faced with this turmoil, have expressed the right to die with dignity. I cannot in good conscience comment further on that, one way or another.
Some are afflicted with a deficiency of reasons to stay alive. Most people are understandably afflicted with a fear of the unknown, and what truly happens after death is the great unknown. So I take comfort in certain things: the sky is unfathomably blue, and light seeps through tree leaves in a certain manner. Water quenches parched throats, and a breeze grazing a sweaty brow is rejuvenating. A brisk walk downtown while bundled in a thick coat, watching snow flurries dance across your nose is enlightening. Sipping a hot cup of freshly roasted coffee, singeing your nostrils with an earthy aroma is comforting. Curious ideas swell up in your mind, revealing themselves as the answers to problems. Coming home to your partner and being engrossed in a story about their day. Growing old with that partner and snatching moments which almost never came. Knowing that I love you and if you were gone, I would keep vigil for the thought of you. Nor am I the only one whose words would fail and thoughts would pause at the sound of your name. I can selfishly assure you that. These things are all granted, but don’t take them as such.
Hatred and agony cohabits this world despite the existence of beautiful thoughts, actions and people. No wonder that idea is so attractive. Maybe the goalpost isn’t to be afraid of death but to fear a life where your work is left incomplete, squandering your precious little time on things that will cease to matter as you draw your last breaths.