Fear of Death

“Death undoes us less, sometimes, than the hope that it will never come.” Pico Iyer

I’m thinking about death because we are once again facing the reality: a friend’s child has died in a climbing accident.

My heart aches for the family of this young man. Because of social media I have been touched by a photograph of his grandparents waiting by the phone. I’ve read the comments of his friends from around the globe. I’ve communicated, personally, with the young man’s parents and siblings and know that they are struggling to cope.

I am amazed at how soon I have made this about me. My fear of a personal loss took my breath away and shoved my compassion to the side.

I quickly internalized the loss and contacted my granddaughter.  Because she is in the same age bracket and lives a similar lifestyle of wilderness adventure and physical challenge, she was immediately on my mind.  “Be careful,” I warned.

Death is a part of life. We all know this. It is a truism and a pat response to loss. It is not, however, an easy part of life. We have all faced some loss and know that in varying degrees it changes us.

Fear of death is worse, though, don’t you think?

I don’t fear my own death. I spend my fear shoving away the possibility of losing those I love the most. At times this possibility cripples me with dread.  And for what?

Did the text to my granddaughter really save her as she ventured into the woods? Did it make her more mindful? Or did it only serve to limit her joy?

And the parents of the young man – is their sorrow now more painful than their fear during their search for him? Their waiting and wondering? Will their acceptance of reality be more difficult than their imaginings?  I don’t know their answers.

However, I have lived through the death of precious family members and friends – one moment at a time. Some moments were full of pain. Some were filled with sweet memories. None were filled with fear. Death is not unbearable. It is the fear of death…

The Student

Originally published: My Life Class September 9, 2014

4 comments

  1. I suppose we all wish to put off the inevitable arrival of death as long as we can. Yet, the regret of not living life to its fullest seems such a shame. “To have loved and lost is better than to never have loved at all.” The pain that comes with loving a child that you have lost is more bearable knowing that he was always trying to live life and experience all of the highs and lows.
    Life is much sweeter when you have friends and family that care enough to encourage your passions and adventures. Thank you for always encouraging me.

    Like

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