I’ve always had an irrational fear of death. My fear does not stem from the ramifications of my atheistic mindset, I do not fear hell or some other fairy tale fate, but simply the idea of no longer existing bothers me. It is sad to think that, one day, I simply will no longer be. I will one day become a science experiment, as I intend that my body be harvested for viable organs and used for educational purposes. I mourned my own passing by just thinking of people mourning my passing. Certainly those who truly love me will miss me, and I felt sorry for those I would leave behind. I never want to be the source of grief for anyone. The thought of doing such upsets me.
It wasn’t until just a few weeks ago, actually, that I discussed my fear with my wife. I’d gotten to a point in Don Delillo’s White Noise where the title comes into play and the author brings up fear of death. One of the characters talks about how uncommon it is to always have death on the mind and how upsetting such an mindset can be. I’d always thought that my daily and nightly ruminations on how and when I would die was normal. So I asked my wife if she thought about dying at least once a day. She said no. That blew my mind. You mean to tell me that not everyone worries themselves to the point of restlessness thinking of when and how they will die? I found that fascinating.
I’ve always thought this way. For as long as I can remember, I’ve imagined how my eventually passing would play out. Sometimes those imaginings grow quite dark and I am left anxious and physically ill. Like I stated above, this is an irrational fear.
But all that changed when I found this quote from Mark Twain:
“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.”
That put things into perspective for me. I’ve long been chained to logic. If it doesn’t make sense, I’ve no use for it: religion, racism, xenophobia, sexism, etc. And the only reason worrying about my death made sense was the fact that I will, one day, be no more. I will die. I will no longer exist, both physically and mentally. But when I try to think about what I was before birth, the logic of worrying about what will happen after death breaks down. I was perfectly fine not existing, once upon a when, I will be perfectly fine not existing in the future.
You might find this strange beyond belief, but that brought me such inner peace. I feel like a new person. I say that without an ounce of hyperbole.
Yes, I still think it will suck for those who care about me, but I won’t be around to worry about that, now will I?
Take care of each other,