- December 10, 2020
I’ve always wondered if there is a specific feeling someone has in the last moments when the soul leaves the body. Does someone know when it’s time? Is death that bad? I’ve pondered these questions for a long time, but I will never know the answers because no one lives to tell the tale.
Besides the experience itself, the fear of death is such a big deal that even posting anything alluding to death always elicits fear from those around us, thinking that perhaps we are inviting death into our lives.
It’s interesting that as inevitable as death is, people barely talk about it. When it’s talked about, it’s always in hushed tones. In fact, we only talk about death when someone passes away, and we don’t have a choice but to face it. Could be it’s our coping strategy?
In Africa, acknowledging death and even preparing for it is unheard of. There are different beliefs surrounding death, and these superstitions are the very reason why, upon dying, there’ll be many explanations associated with one’s death apart from it being a natural occurrence. It’s high time we look at death with a different lense. Not to understand it, but to bring it to our awareness.
Why do we fear death? What is it about death that makes us want to cling to life as long as we can? Here are some of the most obvious reasons:
1. Fear of the unknown
As humans, we like knowing things; we would certainly like to know what happens in our last moments in this world. Once we die, apart from no longer existing, what else is there? Since no one dies and lives to tell us about after death, we live in fear of the unknown. Death remains the greatest mystery of all time.
2. Fear of missing out
What will happen when we cease to exist? Nothing! The world will only be one person less. However, we fear that we will miss out on being with our loved ones, celebrating life’s milestones, or living to fulfil our dreams.
3. Fear of eternal punishment
Religion plays a significant role in our perception of death. People often fear the wrath that comes with the belief that there’s eternal condemnation for what we did or failed to do. And since dying is the only way to find out our punishment or otherwise, no one wants to be part of it. This fear could be worse for devout Christians.
4. Fear of loss of control
As humans, we love being in control. Taking charge of our life by eating right, working out, practising mindfulness and the occasional checkups to ensure our body is functioning just fine. Despite everything we can influence in our lives, we can’t control death. Yes, we can minimize situations that put us at risk, but ultimately we’ll still die. The fact that we don’t know when or how it’s going to happen is what makes the thought of death unfathomable.
5. Fear of not existing
To be honest, this is my greatest fear, that at one point, I will not be there. I will not be able to experience life as I know it. It’s a state of nothingness. All the things we hold dear will be worthless.
Prepare for your departure
In my opinion, the perception that the older we grow, the more we draw nearer to our death is flawed. Children, teenagers, and young people die every day. They haven’t explored their full potential, achieved their purpose, or lived each of their dreams.
So, instead of this consolation, we can accept that age does not determine when we are going to die. With this in mind, we can savour every moment today because tomorrow could be promising, but it’s not guaranteed.
In a Cornerstone Qonversation discussion about death, renowned hypnotherapist, Tazim Elkington highlights the practical measures we can use to help us accept death. Top on the list is the internal process where we need to reconcile with our past and let go of our baggage. Next is putting structures in place so that when we are no longer around, whoever we leave behind (our loved ones) are well taken care of. And lastly, she advises that we live in the present moment and enjoy our lives while we are still alive.
And so, as we hope to fulfil every desire of our hearts, let’s accept death. Let’s wake up every morning, knowing that our days are numbered. Let this be the reason we strive to be better and live a whole and meaningful life such that when the time comes, we won’t have any regrets.
Also watch: Cornerstone Qonverstions: Let’s Talk About Death
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