There are so many things about life which are difficult to deal with, and we are not given a playbook to play around with. For example, how do we deal with the fear of death? Why did nobody teach that to us?
― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 9: The Kindly Ones
Do we have any control?
They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying and knows it. Or, what is going on inside that person’s mind. Wish they taught what to say to the one dying that will comfort her.
What a dichotomy life itself is. On one hand, we are the most powerful species on the planet or at least we claim to be and on the other hand, we fall so helplessly to powers which seem to totally control our lives. Death anxiety is real, when death is too close.
I have been an emotional wreck in the last few days. Usually, I am a fairly talkative person and have something to say almost all the time to any line of argument. I also tend to believe that till there is life, there is hope, which makes me an optimist.
You know, there are situations where hope ends but life still exists?
Life exists, which means that the inhaling of oxygen and exhaling of carbon dioxide is still on, but there is no life left anymore. Let me make it simpler.
Dealing with the fear of death when it looks at you right in the face
My aunt has been suffering from breast cancer for the last 2-3 years and been getting treated for it, in the hope that the cancer will be destroyed. You see, that’s the thing with cancer, it a mighty beast. Either you kill it or it kills you. She has been through innumerable instances of chemotherapy, radiation, injections and fuck knows what. There is no God. If there is one, he is a retard, for she has done nothing to deserve this and it doesn’t make any sense. If God was rational, this would not have happened. Alright, I am furious.
Over the last couple of weeks, she was being treated in one of the premier cancer hospitals in the country where she went after doctors in her hometown expressed their inability to treat her or they fucked up somewhere, we can’t say. Recently, about over a week back, even the doctors in the premier hospital, after trying for a month, put their hands up, a sign of surrender.
Now, she is back home in her hometown and she knows she is dying because the treatment is over and the disease still exists. I think the fear of death is now over her. She knows death is looming close.
She is dying, any minute
We all know that she knows she is dying, any minute. The last chemo didn’t go well and that’s where the treatment was stopped. Her breathing is erratic now. She cannot breathe properly, has bandages all over her body. Veins have disappeared from her body since they disappeared in the chemotherapy sessions. She has swollen hands and burnt skin as an outcome of a failed treatment over a period of 2-3 years.
I went to see her. She has tears in her eyes, permanent tears. Tears, I have no answers to. I have nothing to say to her that will comfort her. I have no jokes to crack. When I saw her, I cried.
The world is deterministic
You know, basically, I believe in a deterministic universe, which means everything is determined according to natural laws, which only nature understands and everything is necessary. Stoicism teaches us to maintain a stoic calm as everything is necessary and cannot be avoided, be it joy or pain.
We can’t do that, we are humans. It’s okay to cry when pain envelopes our life, although it’s important to try and maintain a tough composure so that we can comfort our family, our friends who need us as much as we need them.
She is dying and we can’t seem to do anything to stop it. It is inevitable and determined, we will never know why.
Nature creates us without our own will and we are destroyed by nature without our own will in the way it decides. We are, as Voltaire put it, toys of destiny.
We can’t do anything about death, really-only try to live when we are alive. As I look back on her death, that’s all I can think of. Try to make life matter. Hope you can let go of the fear of death and find peace.
Thank you for reading.
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2 thoughts on “How to overcome the fear of death?”
I can understand your pain, however, it is imperative for us to find a meaning to life, as long as we live. I read a book recently: Man’s search for meaning, by Viktor frankl. Probably you may want to read it. http://www.rightwingnews.com/quotes/the-best-quotes-from-viktor-frankls-mans-search-for-meaning/
Thanks a lot, Raghav.