Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Some thoughts on facing death without fear

Throughout human history, it has always been an essential part of human nature to have a curiosity about the unknown, as well as a feeling of uncertainty, hesitancy and perhaps even fear, and when it comes to anxiety about facing the unknown, I am no exception!
“Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,

It seems to me most strange that men should fear;

Seeing that death, a necessary end,

Will come when it will come.”
William Shakespeare
The idea of death certainly can be classified under the category of the unknown, mysterious and unfamiliar experience. Death is like a mystery- an ominous certainty awaiting each and every one of us. Death touches almost everyone in some form or other during our mortal and finite lives. Death is as common as birth.

“After your death you will be what you were before your birth.”
Arthur Schopenhauer

The day of one’s death is as real and as natural as the day of one’s birth. And finally, just as each one of us has a special day in which we were born, we will have a day to die as well.

“One can survive everything nowadays, except death, and live down anything, except a good reputation.”
Oscar Wilde

“We all die. The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.
Chuck Palahniuk

“On a large enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.
Chuck Palahniuk

Many people simply spend their lives fearing, or even avoiding death. It is common and socially acceptable, to go through life trying not to think about death and not acknowledging the reality of death. Even when death touches those we know or are close to us, it is normal to offer empathy from a distance, if at all possible, and then move on. Yet, the reality of death remains tucked away safely in the shadows of one’s mind as it is always something that happens to someone else and not ourselves.
I once spent much of my lifetime, living with a constant fear of death- not just of my own but of my family, as well. I used to think about it and even dream about it. I used to have nightmares about death and also peaceful and surreal dreams as well. I would feel repulsed as well as drawn to the dead from my dreams. Sometimes I would wake up drenched in sweat, frozen in fear, yet at other times, I would wish the dream would never end, having a sense of peace. Eventually, in large part, I was able to overcome my fear
Having no experience of what death is really like firsthand, obviously, since I am here, alive and well writing this, and I am not among the undead, I have no basis of comparison by which to consider what death is like. If I want to consider what the anticipation of death may be like, I am limited to using my own life experiences as a basis for comparison and therefore confined to choose from among my own, yet common life changing events. After all, death is a common life changing event such as common major events which include marriage, having a child, a divorce and/or going away to college. As with other once in a lifetime life-time events, death itself unfamiliar and new and perhaps even dreaded, which after it happens, nothing is the same and its hard to imagine life thereafter.
There are various ways to reconcile one’s fear or trepidation when it comes to facing the reality of death. In fact, it helps to be pro-active and to assert control when it comes to dealing with death related fears and issues. Firstly, it is important to make an attempt to become familiar with death so that it isn’t a shock when faced personally with death. A wise person thinks about death but a fool thinks only about having a good time. Ecc 7:4 And furthermore, it is better to be in a home of mourning than one of partying, because we all must eventually die, and to take it seriously to heart, is to gain in wisdom. This is one way to reduce the anticipated fear and shock which is associated with unexpected and even expected death.
Secondly, detaching one’s self from the world- from the materialism of the world and relationships- making the transition easier - so that when it is time to meet up with death there is less hesitancy to leave this world. 

“Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb,

and as he comes, so he departs.

He takes nothing from his labor

that he can carry in his hand.”
King Solomon
Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless. Philippians 3:7 CEV
Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends.... Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts. ~Henry David Thoreau
It is worth mentioning that undue worry about death is neither productive, nor will it aid in avoiding death, because worry cannot and will not add even one second to one’s lifespan. Worry only serves to increase the feelings of fear, anxiety and depression. As the bible says in Phillipians, have no anxiety about anything.

If I live , it will be for Christ, and if I die, I will gain even more. I don't know what to choose....It is a hard choice to make. I want to die and be with Christ because this would be much better. Philippians 1:21-23 CEV No matter what happens, above all things, set your sights on eternity which is above all else, most important.

When I am weak, I am strong. Through God I can do all things and endure all things. Even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, the Lord is with me.
If in this life only we have hope then we are to be among all the most pitiable

Oftentimes, it is important to consider, death isn’t always the worst thing. There are some things and some experiences that are worse than death.
Why didn't I die as soon as I was born? Why didn't I die when I came out of the womb? Why did my mother receive me, and my mother feed me? If she had not been there I would be lying dead in peace; I would be asleep and at rest with kings.. I would be asleep with rulers. Why was I not buried like a child born dead like a baby who never saw the light of day. Job
In the grave the wicked stop making trouble and the weary workers are at rest. In the grave there is rest.... people great and small are in the grave and the slave is

Why is life given to those who are so unhappy? They want to die bue death does not come. They search for death more than for hiddden treasure. They are very happy when they get to the grave. Job 3:20

I make sad sounds as I eat, my groans pour out like water. Everything I feared and dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace or quietness. I have no rest, only trouble.

People have only a few useless days of life on the earth; their short life passes like a shadow. Ecc 6:12

The day of death is better than the day of birth. Its better to go to a funeral than to a party. We all must die and everyone living should think about this. Ecclesiates 7:1-2

A wise person thinks about death but a fool thinks only about having a good time. Ecc 7:4

Placing one's hope in the future, the unseen eternity ahead, rather than in this limited, temporary physical world is an important way to face death with courage. What no eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor the heart of man concieved, what God has prepared for those who love him. 1Corinthians 2:9
My true citizenship is in heaven, my kingdom is not of this world.

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