Are You Afraid Of Dying?

May 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured

I went to see a film, “Tree of Life”, on Saturday with a friend of mine.  The film, written and directed by Terrence Malick, deals with such existential questions as: Where is God? Where is the person I used to be? And where are the people that have departed?  Terrence Malick, in my opinion, doesn’t tell stories, but instead he opens the door to the possibility of a deeply intimate voyage.  His images, words and sounds are the conduit, but the experience is unique to each one of us.

On the way home, while talking about the film, my friend said: “I’m not afraid of dying.”  It was the second time that week I was hearing the same statement.  This time I thought I should ask what this friend meant.  He went on to explain that at some point in his life he had been a drug-addict and an alcoholic, and because of that he had developed some serious medical conditions that would end in death if he didn’t stop with the addiction.  Because he loved life more than drugs and alcohol, he went into a facility and now has been sober for twenty years.

I told him I thought not being afraid or being afraid of dying meant; you are going to die, no question about it, now how do you deal with that knowledge?  The answer, none of us know for sure until we face that situation.

I often say my late husband and I were cast perfectly in the roles we lived through as he fought to destroy his cancer.  I’m a great caretaker and advocate while he was able to let go of vanity – as his appearance deteriorated – and put his arms around the real possibility that he was going to perish. Seeing what he went through, I don’t know if I would have had the same strength and grace.

I think for most of us, fear comes from letting go of our egos.  We are afraid of ceasing to exist as ourselves.  Everything we fought for while alive – the right to be who we are, to be noticed and appreciated – vanishes with the end of the ego.

There are many believes and theories about what happens to us after we die.  I don’t really know, but think most likely we become part of the universe simply because energy cannot be destroyed only transformed.

But regardless of what you or I think, we will all face the moment of death.  But what we do before we get there is something we can all do something about.

By no means I live life thinking of death.  There is no heavy doom and gloom in my existence.  But I try to be aware of the present time.  Meaning, I try to appreciate as much as I can.  I also often ask myself have a dealt with a situation in a way that in the future I will have no regrets?  Have I applied love instead of pride?

I believe if we work to live a life where love – more than pride – is the modus operandi, and where moments were fully lived instead of barely experienced, we will be in a better position to deal with the ultimate question, whatever that is.

Below is a post by Deepak Chopra on End of Life Experience (ELE).



By Deepak Chopra

Let me begin by reassuring you that this isn’t going to be a grim post. But it begins in an area people are uncomfortable with. We all must die, yet this is one inevitability that almost nobody feels comfortable talking about. That includes doctors and nurses, as was discovered in a newly published study from King’s College in London. It surveyed the staff that surrounded dying patients in hospices and found that they witness every common end-of-life experience (ELE). These fall into two types, and one of them will seem very strange…Continued

  • Winsor Pilates


2 Responses to “Are You Afraid Of Dying?”
  1. Julie says:

    I enjoyed this piece Deborah. Thank you. It’s strange how after several recurrences of bone cancer and as many painful surgeries (the last ending in the amputation of my right leg, pelvis and hip), I felt that if I had another recurrence, I would be ready to die. I fought hard to live; I was in my 30’s and felt there was so much I had not done yet and wanted so much to do. But there came a point where I just didn’t feel I had the strength to handle any more pain. In a strange way this put me at peace with dying. All the things that were on my “bucket list” now seemed unimportant. Just having a little ease now and then from the pain seemed like nirvana. When I was younger & healthy as a horse, I obsessed about the future and “making it”, when I was first diagnosed with cancer, I obsessed about the past (what have I done to deserve this?) and was terrified of the future (what will become of me? what happens if I die?), but after four horrifying surgeries and feeling intolerable much pain & thoughts of dying, I just wanted to get it over with (defeat?).

    Well, that was 10 years ago now and as the pain has subsided (except the occasional bouts with phantom pain and nerve shocks), so has my courage to live in the moment. I am trying to be fully present, enjoy each moment, take care of myself, not to feel bad about having boundaries that keep me grounded, even thought they might disappoint others, not to feel guilty about “not being able to do more/be more” for social approval & accolades, and not dreading or avoiding painful things. I remember to breath when I am in the midst of painful and scary things (instead of finding ways to distract myself from them…) I’m not perfect at it, not sure I ever will be, but it has in an odd way made me less afraid of my own death. I am at the age where people, places, things, jobs, states of mind, passions, habits, etc. have come, gone and morphed (in some cases, many times over) and I find I am letting go and accepting change more gracefully. Maybe this in some strange way is preparing me to accept my inevitable death? Nothing else has remained the same, so why should my living be any different?