“Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come, we are not.”
Epicurus (341 BC – 270 BC), from Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers
Death is a part of life. None of us want to go there, but we will. Before I was born, I did not exist. I suppose one could say that I was not alive before I was born. When I die, I will return to the same status I had prior to my life – I will not be alive. From what I remember of being “not alive,” it was not unpleasant or the slightest bit inconvenient. From a non-religious perspective, death is not something to be overly afraid of. Death is simply the way of nature. It is a part of evolution and change.
With that in mind I’ve been pondering methods of approaching death. Like most people I’ve known a number of others who are are no longer alive.
The “I can’t wait” Death
It’s been said that suicide is painless but I don’t even think that could be true for the people dying. it certainly isn’t true for those left behind who live with the guilt of wondering if they could have done anything to save the deceased. There probably isn’t but that doesn’t stop the guilt.
The “What the fuck?” Death
This is reserved for the sudden and unexpected death typical in a motorbike accident. One second you’re pootling along a country lane at 90 miles per hour and the next you’re park of the road. You didn’t even see what hit you.
The “I give up” Death
Usually as a result of a long and often painful illness. The suffering simply overwhelms the individual and consumes all their attention. In the end death becomes a welcome release.
The “You ain’t takin’ me alive” Death
This is a way of living where you focus on fighting what’s killing you. Like the “I give up” death you really need some notice of your impending doom. People who die fighting are very focused on survival.
The “No-one here but us chickens” Death
Rather than fighting against death or accepting it there are people who would rather just avoid the subject. They are the people who hide the illness from themselves, miss doctors’ appointments and pretend that if they can just pretend that they aren’t ill then death won’t come to claim them. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.
The “It’s not fair” Death
This death is reserved for people who like to focus on themselves. Failure of the body is somehow the responsibility of someone or something else and these people really don’t like that. However as long as the focus is on them they have the satisfaction of other people’s pity.
The “Can you leave the light on” Death
As much as I’d like to mock there are plenty of reasons to fear the unknown and while may think I know what happens when life ceases I don’t know. I do know that it’s inevitable and wasting your dying moments in fear isn’t how I want to go out. Now, if I’m cowering under the bed when an axe wielding manic ends my existence then I at least have an excuse.
The “If I pray hard enough” Death
The ultimate form of bargaining is to try to escape a permanent death by giving something in exchange for eternal life. I could be devotion, prayer, charity, sacrifice or having lots of children to continue your legacy. The person who is going to die is trying to continue in some way in order to escape death.
The “Whatever” Death
Death, being the great unknown that it is, as well as pretty much inevitable is nothing to fear. The state of concentrating on life requires an ability to live in the moment that most people simply cannot master.
The “I’m on fire” Death
People who get set on fire tend to run around screaming as the flames consume them. What they should be doing is rolling around on the ground to put out the flames. Logically that makes sense but there’s not a lot of logic in the survival instinct. People who approach death in a blind panic tend to spend a lot of money on insurance policies that have clauses that invalidate them.
Can anyone think of any more?