Do You Ever Think About Your Death?

Death Painting  by Fred Einaudi.
Painting by Fred Einaudi.

Do you? When it will come, how it will be like, whether you will suffer much? Or have you relegated it to a dark and forgotten corner of your mind, turning it into a vague possibility, something that is bound to occur sometime in the future but which until then should be of no concern to you?

We have a tendency to avoiding thinking about death. Like most people, I’d rather not think about it, preferring instead to occupy my thoughts with more enjoyable matters. Lately, however, since my health alerts – I’m well now, don’t worry, thanks for asking – I have thought more than usual about death.

You know, death can happen at any moment. It can be me, it can be you, it can be someone near us. If it’s not some terminal disease, it may well be a little snapping in the head, a little a stroke, or a car accident, or some act of terrorism, or something heavy that just happens to detach itself from the old building we are walking by and land upon our head.

All of us are afraid of pain and, since death usually entails some pain (unless we’re really lucky and suffer some orgasmic heart-attack, preferably while we are in bed making love – it happens to some lucky few) we cannot help but fear death, which is why we’d rather not mention it. Well, the good news is that we have painkillers these days, or suicide bags, depending on which you prefer.

Other than the pain, though, I wouldn’t worry too much about death. And if pain is such a big concern for you, I recommend you read Haruki Murakami’s account of the skinning alive of a Japanese soldier by Mongols in the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and I promise you that all other death pains will seem somehow tolerable.

Now it would be a good moment for me to launch into a soothing existential description of the Buddhist understanding of death, but to tell you the truth, I think Mark Twain puts it even better:

“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

Well then, if only fear of pain, not death itself, is to be feared, should we concern ourselves with death at all? Should we give it a thought or two every day? Or will that only indispose us?

For my part, I try to think about death now and then, not as a game over sort of thing, nor as a great liberation, but as a reminder of the impermanence of things. I find that thinking about it every day – not dwelling upon it, but merely reminding myself that it will come – helps me worry less about the uncertain future and, more importantly, by reminding me that nothing lasts forever, helps me stop taking things for granted (my relative good health, the people around me, my comfortable life, books, food, apples, milk, the sunlight, everything else really) and enjoy life as best I can.

24 thoughts on “Do You Ever Think About Your Death?

  1. I don`t waste time thinking about my death because I have absolutely no control over it.

    I live my life and am thankful for every waking moment. Thankful for every drop of life given to me.

    1. Well, can’t someone be thankful to be alive and yet at the same time contemplate death? And as to control over death, I think there are ways… I think we certainly have more control over it than in past centuries.

  2. I am not fearful of my death because I know one day, this flesh is going to die. How? I don’t know. But, what matters to me is that I know my soul is never going to die.

    My soul is going to live forever. Everybody’s soul is going to live forever, either in heaven or hell.

    If you have no hope of eternal life, then I would be afraid for you because of the impending judgment to follow, but if you have put your hope and trust in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for your sins, then there is hope of eternal life to follow.

    Death is imminent and only temporary, and the gateway to eternity!

  3. Recent death in family made me ponder on the subject of death more than ever before. I think when we think about death, we have this idea that it’ll hit us someday. And that someday, in the back of our head, is far away. What we don’t realise is that someday maybe now.
    Death is painful. It’s not only about the pain you go through while dying, but also the pain you leave behind for the rest of the people. The question isn’t just of dying, it’s also of who’s dead. I think a part of people, who are left behind, dies along with the dead.

  4. Death pops into my head every once in a while, but as you said, it’s more of a fear of a painful death than of death in general. We’re all going to die, it’s inevitable [insert joke about taxes here].

    The only time death is really on my mind is when my mental illness gets the best of me. Then it’s the only thing I think about–not when I will die, but how will I do it as painlessly as possible.

    The other day, I did start thinking about it. Someone had posted an article about what it feels like to lose a parent, and it got me thinking of my mom who died almost fifteen years ago. She had a stroke. Like her two oldest sisters and two oldest brothers. It runs in the family. My mom was in her 40s when she had her first mini-stroke. She was 51 when she died. My aunts and uncles were in their 50s when they had their strokes. I’ll be 40 in a couple of years, and it’s starting to make me nervous.

    But for the most part, I don’t think about it.

  5. I try not to think about it – and consciously stop myself when I find myself thinking along those lines. Like bloodandthunder wrote, I can’t control it. And I definitely don’t want to know in advance how I’ll be taken out!

  6. Everything we know about only changes from one form to another when it ceases existence. I believe our souls do the same. We do not die; we only change. I’m eighty-one. In 2013, I was at a family reunion in the Rocky mountains. I had an aorta disection and acute heart attack. Somehow I was kept alive for five hours before arriving at a Denver hospital for a fourteen hour operation. Story is rather long. You can find it under “About Me” called “Why Me, Lord” if you are interested in reading more. Anyway, it was an astounding experience. Except for the sudden body rending pain there was no pain during the process but a lot of conflict and peace. How can those two happen together? Odd isn’t it? I think the conflict came about by hearing the effort of the people who were trying so hard to save me. The peace came from my belief that Jesus was reaching for me. I believe I have less fear of death now, but I sure am glad to be here browsing around in the blogosphere. Saturday I saw a doctor who asked me about my open heart surgery. I told him I had had an aorta disection, and he said, “And you still alive?” That is the response from all most all medical personnel. I invite you to read “Why Me, Lord.” If you believe you are saved for eternity by the death of Jesus Christ, I think it will help relieve your fear of death. I can’t speak for those who do not have that belief.

  7. There are times when I think about death, not when, but how. Everyone eventually dies, we all know that. We are basically born to die. I’m not concerned of when i’m going to leave, whether it will be on someone’s wedding reception, where my heart suddenly stops, or in the highway, where reckless a driver decides to run over your car. I’m worried on how it happens. You’re right, nobody wants to feel pain. I’m afraid to feel pain. I always wonder how I’d meet the big boss, and silently wish i’ll just die in my sleep, where I feel no pain at all.

    Death is interesting, mysterious, and might be even beautiful. I just don’t want to feel it coming.

  8. “Spontaneous combustion” – ha. You’re hot stuff, boy.

    Great and difficult subject. I like your Twain quote which is exactly how I frame death. Though the thought of ceasing to exist, of not existing , still raises up much angst.

    The wish to live and to continue to take pleasure in living erupts feelings of wanting power over death, wishes for control over life – and the knowledge that this is not possible is overbearing. Imagining yourself not existing is like trying not to breathe.

    And so the best we can comfort ourselves with, other than a belief in life after death, a heaven, reincarnation, or something of the sort – is Twain’s, notion of not existing before I was born for all those years and it didn’t bother me a bit (ironically suggesting that an “I’ existed for all those eons before birth, and will again after death). Which paradoxically allows for some sense of control over the idea of ceasing to exist. Which is a false reality. Ha.

    I vote for spontaneous combustion… 😉


  9. Death does not exist. It is only your imagination. A delusion.
    Think about what you are down to every organic matter that makes up your blood and flesh. When you “die”, it is just a fact that the composition of some organic matter changes. It changes into something else. That’s all.

    What is “me”, eventually? If you cannot figure that out, if you don’t know what is “me”, then death will have no meaning.

  10. I have always feared death, because I wasn’t ready. I am twenty years old but that doesn’t mean I am less likely to die than somebody who is eighty. Or ninety. What I have come to realise, though, is that because it is inevitable, it must be accepted. It does put existence into perspective, though. We are all humans who feel so deeply and think so profoundly, that surely it can’t all just vanish when we die? No, this world is too horrid for that. Too dark and unjust and strange. I have come to feel like a stranger on this earth. We are all strangers, in one way or the other! Well, I shall find out when I embark on that partidcular sojourn, eh? 🙂 Once again, a thought-provoking post, Vincentiu!

    1. Go the Christian route. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? …(God) gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:58) ” I’m 81 and I’ve lived through facing death. I will face it again; not likely to avoid it many more years, but I face without fear. Nor do I sorrow except for the things/people I will leave behind, because I believe I will see many I know who are already living a “new” existence. Have you read the analogy which presents death in the way babies in the womb might wonder about life? It is very comforting as they face the fact that birth will happen, then wonder what will happen as they are cast out into a new realm of living. One says he has heard that there is a mom who cares and will still love and take care of them. Thus, alluding to a God who still loves and will take care of us.

  11. To answer the question, yes I have thought about my own death with no anxiety or fears. That might be in part of the same, reoccurring dream over the course of many, many, many years where I watched myself die. Too, in my 20 years as a patient care volunteer, I have been with countless in the process of dying…when one is not fearful of death then one can think, and even talk about death, even their own.

  12. Death is a mystery. Will anything happen after or will there be eternal oblivion? We don’t know. I am curious about what will happen but I am in no rush to find out. Don’t fear death, focus on enjoying life and achieving while it lasts instead.

  13. Death ,I think about it, it doesn’t suprise me, it doesn’t scare me. Only if its for me.

    Loving your blog so far Vincent! The posts are so thought provoking, and you take time to hear out from readers, that’s great.

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