What Scares You?

In my last post, (right below this one) I wrote about how I thought we were killing ourselves with all the crap we’ve put in our water, air and soil. So since we’re on that subject, let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about death. I can already hear what you’re thinking. “I’m not reading the rest of this post.” But c’mon, this is something most people don’t want to talk about but they really should. I mean, we’re all going to die, right? And we all know that, so what’s the problem? We should talk about it.

Now I’ll repeat something I just said. We are all going to die. Roll that around in your mind a little while. “We are all going to die.” (Why, why does he have to keep repeating that?) For a lot of people, I would venture to say, most people, death is not a cocktail party conversation topic. Not that I’ve ever went to a cocktail party, but you get my drift. Can you picture it? A bunch of people sitting around in their casual wear, sipping martini’s and Bruce says, “Hey guys, lets talk about death!” I’m pretty sure Bruce would not get invited to the next party. Most of us like being alive. We like believing we’re going to wake up tomorrow and carry out the plans we’ve made. And why not? We make plans. No one thinks, “No sense planning on tomorrow, I might be dead.”

But it scares us. It really does. If you’ve ever seen a survey or something like that, where people are asked what scares them most you’ll find all kinds of answers like spiders or snakes or whatever but almost no one says death scares them the most. This is funny because I can guarantee you that death is profoundly more scary to most people than spiders or snakes. But people don’t even like using the word. And dying is so far removed from most peoples minds that it doesn’t even register when they’re asked, what scares them most. So what is it about death that scares people? The loss of their life, certainly. We like life, for the most part and we don’t want it to go away. But more than that I think it is fear of the unknown.

And the unknown of death is huge. A question many people have wondered at is, is there an afterlife? This has been asked and thought about since the beginning of time. Many religions have tried to answer this question by claiming that there is. In Christianity for instance, the afterlife is talked about a lot. Heaven is explained and described. And all good Christians will go there. It will be beautiful, peaceful, and without fear or want. The streets will be paved in gold (ghastly). And yet, in my own experience, the people who are most afraid of death are the ones I know who are Christian. Think about that for a minute. The people I know who believe in Heaven are the ones who are most scared of death. One woman I know couldn’t talk about death or even listen to a conversation about it. It scared her that much. I asked her if she believed she would go to heaven when she died and she said yes. Then why did it scare her so? She said she didn’t understand that, it just did. All other Christians I know felt like her. Maybe not to her extreme but death scared the hell out of them.

There have been lots of books written about death. A quick Google search produces many titles and I often wonder how well those books have done. Who buys a book about death? I don’t think many of them are given as gifts, do you? “Happy Birthday dear, since you’re going to die someday, I thought you might like this book.” No, I can’t see it. But maybe we should talk about it. Anything you fear is a burden and makes your life a little less enjoyable. Sometimes we are encouraged to think about death. Preparing a will requires thinking about death. Not exactly the death part, but at least preparing for its eventuality. But more than that, we should at least try to get a little more comfortable with it. I mean, it’s going to happen, right?

We’ve all heard the stories about people dying during an operation and having an experience of heaven. I think someone even made a movie about it, certainly a book. The problem I have with these stories is that we know so little about our own brains, how do we know that these heaven trips didn’t happen in the person’s head? We really don’t. I’ve had dreams that were so vivid that when I woke up I questioned if they really happened. The experience left me confused and disoriented, and yet I realized later that it was just a dream. Who knows?

I don’t know how to tell you how to become more comfortable with death. A fear of the unknown is not something I suffer from. Humans are creatures of curiosity. We have a need to know so I would think that people would be a little less afraid of the unknown. But not when it comes to death. People don’t want to know. It’s not something I look forward to but when it happens, I’ll welcome the journey, wherever it leads.

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