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September 20, 2019 6 min read

We’re all born to die. So why is it so hard for us to deal with this topic?

The thought of death is something that surrounds us like a black veil and that we want to get rid of as soon as it comes up. But why is that so? Why does something that is directly connected to our being make us feel so uncomfortable? 
As a child, I always imagined death as another world. Whenever I was afraid, I closed my eyes and just thought that whether I lived in this world or another, it wouldn’t really make a difference. Like a parallel universe. With the same people. But possibly at a different time.
And as funny as that may sound – somehow it calmed me down.
With dying it was totally different.
I still remember very clearly how I once crept into my grandparents‘ living room in order to stay awake longer, and unintentionally saw a film in which a man lured a young girl into the forest and murdered her there – I’d like to spare you the rest of the details at this point.
Afterwards, I didn’t want to go alone into the cellar anymore and I walked through dark rooms or corridors only by holding my breath.
Maybe it’s not necessarily death we’re afraid of and that makes us feel uncomfortable, but the uncertain way there. So dying.

We’re trained to always be in control of everything, and to think that we are the authors of our life and that we have our destiny in our hands. There are endless possibilities to die. And we rarely have an influence on it. Dying takes away all our control. And for most of us, loss of control is something we have a hard time dealing with – it leaves us helpless.

But are we really as helpless as we imagine‘? Do we really give up any control while we are on our way to death? I think the answer lies in our personal definition of „to die“. Dying describes the transition between life and death. For me, however, dying has been far more than just a bridge.

Something that I find very difficult to put into words. For me, dying describes the moment when my soul leaves my body and does uncertain things. Is there a life after death? I don’t know. Are we accepting a new life form? Who knows? Whether the soul really exists is uncertain to unrealistic for science. Nevertheless, 52% of us would say that they have a soul or something comparable. According to the results of a Doctor from the US (Duncan MacDougall), the soul weighs exactly 21 grams.
And, somehow, I find this thought beautiful. Whatever these 21 grams after my death will do.

Dying is for me however far more than this short moment of transition. And I think this is exactly the reason of my uncertainty about it. My fear. When I think of dying, I often think of pain. Unknown pain. Of illness, but above all also of farewell and grief. And I don’t like goodbyes. 
But how can you find a better way to deal with a topic that evokes these feelings in you? 

If a topic is new to me and I want to learn more about it, I usually start my search online. But somehow it feels strange to type the word „death“ into a search engine. „The good way to deal with death“ (in German: Vom guten Umgang mit dem Tod) is the name of the magazine I bought instead.

I have to admit, I carried the magazine around with me for almost 4 weeks before I opened it for the first time. I expected the topic to make me cry, as usual, and I wanted to be in the right mood to deal with it. So, I was all the more surprised after reading the first article to smile instead of crying. Death is something that accompanies us daily. We see it every day and often don’t notice it. We clearly distinguish between our human world and the world that surrounds us. We stigmatize death because it takes us people whom we love and whom we desire at our side. Often we do not see that death also contains many positive things. It makes room for something new. It gives us the possibility to be more conscious of our daily life and it makes us think more consciously about our actions. At least from time to time. And of course, it´s easy to see the positive while we are not directly confronted with death than in times of grief. But I, for myself, have decided that from now on I want to separate death, dying and cause of death more clearly from each other.

For me, death describes a state that no one can ever explain to me. So, any speculation is futile. Many people with near-death experience describe death as „going into the light“. Others say they can’t remember anything. Maybe it’s because of how close you were to death. Maybe it’s the power of your own perception. However, no one ever speaks of pain that is directly connected with this process. So, I can say for myself that there is probably no reason to be afraid of this moment.

That brings us to the cause of death. Probably, for most of us, the most uncertain component in this trio. Even if we are terminally ill, we can be run over by a car one day before our avoidable death from illness. Was then all our fear of this one cause of death unfounded? – I think everyone has to answer this question for himself.
Our fears are fictions. And to be aware of this is perhaps the only way for me to get more comfortable with death and be further away from it than ever before. Awareness that the loss of control is an inevitable part of it, makes it easier for me to accept this loss. And at the same time, this realization makes me understand that I may not have any influence on my death, my dying and my cause of death – but I do have an influence on how I live my life. And by that, I also mean the times when I may be sad, sick, or a little closer to death every day.

I often skip the introductory texts in magazines. In this case, however, I have to say that this text probably transported the most important insight of the whole magazine for me.

Maybe life isn’t about doing everything we could theoretically do. But it’s about not regretting anything when life comes to an end. No matter when this end is.

A nurse from Australia asked her patients over 8 years directly before their death about the 5 points they regret the most in their lives. And I believe that to be more aware of these points and to be more aware of the decisions we make automatically leads to a more conscious attitude towards life. 

1. I wish I had had the courage to live less according to the needs of others.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so much.
3. I wish I had had the courage to express my feelings more strongly.
4. I wish I had taken better care of my friends.
5. I wish I had allowed myself to enjoy life more. 

Actually, I wanted to end this article with a quote, which stuck in my head.“Who does not fear death does not truly love life“ – Harald Martenstein. – I believe however, after I have occupied myself much with this topic, that this is not the only truth.

I decided for myself not to be afraid of death. And not because I don’t love life. On the contrary. I am not afraid because I do not know what to be afraid of.
I live in the here and now. And that is today and not tomorrow. And in here and now I can do anything for not having to regret anything tomorrow. Surely, I will not succeed every day. But maybe the day after. Because even if death can happen any second, there is no point in expecting it. This brings us back to the uncertain future. And how boring would life be if we already knew what´s waiting for us?

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