As a doctor and a hospice volunteer, one of the most common fears that I encounter in my job is the fear of dying. In fact, it so common that it’s considered a normal fear.
More than one-third of Americans have died in their own homes from natural causes. And more than one-third of those died in their infancy or childhood.
While such deaths are avoidable, it is by no means easy to avoid; and so at some point in your life you’re going to be faced with a decision.
Every year more than forty-five thousand people die in the US – one every day. Many of them are poor, some middle class, and some very well off. And though we try to ensure that every world Poeterto die is old enough to avoid the hardships of old age, many of us aren’t. Still, death comes to those who love others… and tries to make them close.
So what to do about this fear of dying?
The first thing you can do is try not to think about it.
At my funeral last month, a friend told me that my death was difficult for her. It caused her some suffering. I’ve been able to help her, but she’s not alone in this. I’m sure you can relate to this.
So I don’t Even have to think about my own death.
There are thousands of people with terminal illnesses and the question of dying is still open. Even after death is assured, the question of dying embarrasses us all.
One of my favorite stories of assured dying is the story of the drowned man who reunited with his body. A good Christian man, he was assured that he would rise from the water. Surely, that would have given him comfort in his final hours. It was even offered to him by a selfish human who didn’t know the details of his wife’s private matter. The moral of the story, “Don’t expect grace in extraordinary circumstances” holds especially true for the believer.
Don’t you suffer from solace because you expect God to be good to you, when you can’t see anything good?
That’s the other story. The one that brings despair to the heart and the one that can’t be solved through the basic human knowledge of good and evil.
It brings a sort of relief when you know that your dilemma is a thin veil so thin that even if the actual event were a killer many would feel justified in taking the life of that person who must have seemed so good to so many. Even though it’s just an idea, it gives comfort to heart to think that their beloved loves ones, even though they are no more, might be better after that person who has passed.
In both of these stories, the obvious lesson is that our problem is not with the event itself. Our problem is that we will always be faced with that event, even if it’s just in our thoughts. And no matter how bad we think the event, or the aftermath, an event occurs in nature when our behavior changes. It’s part of the job of life.
The buried message is a sad one: this life, which is just a drop in the bucket compared to infinity, is enough.
What we should learn, and something that’s repeated across the ages, is that life is what we choose it to be. It’s our freedom to live it up or to die. Most of us live in fear that we might live up to our potential, and when we meet that fear, we experience an emptiness that means we’ve failed.
If killing is what gives meaning to our existence, then certainly that meaning will be less than no meaning at all. I’m sure that’s not rallying to any success.
You’ll die without meaning. That’s one way to know you’re dying. You won’t have a physical reason, yet, to live. You will just declare that you’re dying.
And your reasons to live will no longer be able to be described in words.
The meaning of life has to be experienced, even if from a distance.
If we could take the analogy of a Golf Ball and a PEZ dispenser as the basics of a meaningful life, that would still provide an infinite supply of golf balls and PEZ dispensers.
However, those golf balls and PEZ dispensers can hardly satisfy all of our desires, can they?
Even some of the greatest minds in the history of philosophy were frustied by the unending quest for meaning.
Socrates was deeply frustrated by the fact that he constantly saw the cold, empty eyes of his soul as being the source of all of his problems.