Did you just say, ‘fear of dying’?
Yes, I heard you right. I used to be very scared of death once. Don’t get me wrong. I still do. But, now, it is a different kind of fear.
In fact, this is one thought that has haunted me a lot since childhood. The ‘fear’ factor has kicked in every time I’ve heard someone I’ve known, leave this world. Now, while reflecting upon an incident that took place many years back, I feel I used to be much more scared of death as a child. It so happened, that one morning in the school assembly, we were informed that one of our classmates had died due to a sudden illness and that later in the day we would be paying a visit to bid her a final goodbye. When we all went to see her from school, she lay there, in perfect repose, looking serene, dressed beautifully, surrounded by wailing relatives, looking like she was so much at peace. I shuddered to see her dead – it seemed nothing could touch her anymore. Not even the love or the pain of her beloved family. She was so removed from everything – and that is what pained me. It haunted me for days to think of how I would deal with something like that. The thought of leaving my family behind scared me…I simply dreaded the thought. Understandably, the sense of security and the bond of attachment with which a child depends on her family is much stronger in those early years and death was simply unthinkable. How, on earth, could I leave mum and dad and my kid brother behind? Thoughts that could only come to a naive 9-year-old!
But, as we know nothing is constant. As we grow older, life changes us. Our sense of pain and fear undergo metamorphosis. We get altered; our sense of purpose, goals, and motivations, infact, everything that means anything to us, undergoes change. It is somewhere along these life-changing moments, that our concept and our response to death changes too.
Like everyone else, I’ve had my fair share of pain and heartbreaks too…often, exceeding my threshold of tolerance, leaving me with a wish to obliterate myself from the face of this world. Not just once or twice, but a good many times. If I were to honestly admit, I’d say, I’ve had situations when death seemed like the only way to remove myself from a painful place; be it in case of a frustrating relationship or a difficult phase in life because the pain from those tormenting moments seemed relentless and death seemed to be the only apparent reliever. I’m so eternally grateful that nothing in life is constant. As it happens, thanks to the universal life-force, and my inner strength, I survived the odds, came out unscathed, to find myself in a place where the joys of living eventually reinforced their way in, helping me to leave those dark thoughts behind for good.
I now believe that everything happens for a reason- that one must live through darkness only to appreciate every little ray of light that filters in through the cracks within us. We are more than a sum-total of every heartbreak that we go through, after all.
And, therefore, thanks to the countless shocks and the knocks from life, I remain an eternal optimist. Today, I find it much easier to accept death as an inevitable part of living. The terrible sense of finality does not disturb me. Instead, I’m even more conscious of the little time that I have in hand. As for ‘death’, I know I must meet it someday. What I now worry about, is how much time will I have, before I come to meet it face to face? Will I live long enough in this world before that happens? Will I live to see our son grown up and settled, happy to have found his true calling in life? Will J and I have enough years to laugh, grumble, argue and enjoy our old age traveling the world together? Will I be able to write that book I’ve always dreamt of writing someday? Will there be enough time to discover who I really am before death finally catches up with me?
Thoughts galore, thoughts that creep up slowly on a quiet day, as I let my mind travel back and forth, wondering – will I be able to live my dream of dying a ‘contented’ soul someday, one who lived life on her own terms, happy to have made those mistakes and lived a full life?
Yes, I am scared of death. I’m scared of dying sad and unhappy, of dying with regrets that I never fulfilled my dreams, of regrets that I never tried all those wonderful things, of not being able to tell my loved ones how much they meant to me all their lives, and of not having enough time to find out who I really am.
So, you see, it is not the fear of dying that keeps me up at night, anymore. If there is anything, it is the fear of not living and not trying that does.
Tell me, have you ever thought of dying? What are your thoughts when you think of ‘death’? Does it haunt you ever?