Fear is so debilitating. Most are such a waste of emotions.

Not having fear would ruin a good horror movie, mind. The static pages section on the right has a list of over 600 fears and their scientific terms. 600! The title of this post is fear of death and I hope the conversation leads me there. People often ask me what process I go through when writing. Simple really. I just write what comes to my head. Very little editing. I correct my typos, as much as I can. The screen is failing my aging eyes. I might re-arrange a couple of things, but in general do not spend any time re-writing any sections. Hence the hope that the conversation will eventually lead me to the title.

I grew up in Ethiopia. We were there from 1953 to 1963. There are maps of the world showing how much artificial light we generate in different parts of the world. Africa is dark.

Map Showing the Amount of Artificial Lights we Generate

Map Showing the Amount of Artificial Lights we Generate

It is dark today, and it was dark in 1953 and 1963. I was very afraid of the dark. Some nights were so dark you would be blind outside. I have always been a restless sleeper. My parents used to put dining room chairs beside my bed as I kept falling out of bed. I would not go to the bathroom at night. They would leave the bathroom window open. I was terrified of the darkness outside. Every once in a while, there would be a feral cat sitting on the window sill. All I could see was the two eyes shining ominously at me. Did I mention how terrified of cats I was as well? Not sure where I peed the first night I saw that combination in the bathroom window.

We raised chicken in Ethiopia. The feral cats would attack them regularly. My brother made a sport of shooting the cats. The locals would also participate. It was fun, I think. I had no objections. The fewer of them the less likely they would be sitting in the bathroom window waiting for me. My job was to encourage the chickens to go into the coop at nights to prevent the cats from eating them. Chicken are the dumbest animals on earth. They had to be chased into the coop every night. You would think they figure things out after a couple of weeks. But no, not these animals. No wonder we eat them. No danger of any brain disease afflicting us, since chicken do not have brains.

Janet and I went to Martha’s Vineyard for our honeymoon. It was loads of fun, highly recommended as a travel destination. We took a drive down to the beach one night. How romantic. It was a cloudy night, not a star in the sky and totally dark. I mean cannot see the nose in front of your face dark. We found our way to the beach and stood there holding hands listening to the steady rhythm of the waves lapping the shores. We stood for about five minutes when the conversation turned to the dangers of being there by yourself, and how someone could easily kill you and you would never be found. Never mind it was too dark to see anything. We talked ourselves into an inane fear and rushed back to the car racing home.You can laugh now. In fact we all laugh now when we talk about it. What an insane thought process to put yourself through.


It paralyses you.

It defeats you.

Makes you cringe at the slightest provocation.

Fear of a project at work stops you from performing the task in the allowed time frame.

And the list goes on.

Wikipedia has a listingĀ  for fear. Big surprise there. They also talk about fear of death. There it is, the title subject.

Are we afraid of death because we do not know what happens after? Why would that scare us? We often do not know what is going to happen after some other events in our lives. Why does death scare us so? Life after death, which I believe in, is also fraught with issues. What happens when you get to the pearly gates? Where do you fit in the new world? We are told there is progress and evolution in the next world but no time factor. How does that work? We are told that there is a connection between our current world and the next. That you reconnect with you spouse in the next world. That punishments not meted out in this world for a crime committed will be looked after in the next world.

All sorts of questions arise from this. What form, what shape, what is considered a punishable offense? What constitutes a punishment? We do not believe in heaven and hell, only life after death. Is Hitler standing behind a window watching the fun everybody else is having? Accompanied by Genghis Khan and Hannibal? Or is Genghis Khan not such a bad guy, living in a different age where values were so different from what they are now? Do we really know the difference between good and bad in order to make an intelligent decision regarding any of this?

What if you do not believe in life after death? The world as you know it ends. You are buried or cremated and that is the end of it. The only certainty in life is death. You are born, and you know that you will die. Just a question of when, where and how. Most of these you cannot control. Not believing in life after death is a release of sorts. No payment for your indiscretions, they are buried with you. What are you afraid of exactly?

We moved to Toronto in 1980. I got a job at Radio Shack as a salesman. An insurance agent came into the store and saw me as a target. There is a twist, a salesperson comes into a store to sell to another salesperson. She started the sale picth:

Do you have life insuranace?


What happens if you die?

I will be dead

What about your family?

They won’t be dead

Who is going to bury you?

I don’t know who will bury me. I will be dead.

Is it fair to leave that expense to your family?

I don’t know, others will assist. Look around you, any dead bodies lying around? Somehow everyone gets looked after. And anyways, I will be dead.

She walks out.

I do not fear death because I do not know what lies ahead of me. I can only fear things I know about. For instance running over a pedestrian. It could happen, specially the way I drive. That is a relative known factor. But death is so unknown. Not like you can come back and talk about it, or send a postcard. You die, you are gone. Why the fear?

The above mentioned Wikipedia article talks about people of Faith have less fear of death. The further you remove yourself from Faith, the more scared of death you are.

Some of my friends tell me I am lucky or fortunate to have this Faith that gives me comfort. Maybe. I wish I understood this better.

8 Responses to “Fear of Death”

  1. I am one of those who do not believe in anything after death. I do believe that you pay in this world for your wrong doings though. Fear ? Not really, because it is somehow natural. I think it doesn't matter how long we live but how we live. What I do remember when I look backward are certain pictures that has provoked my emotion positive or negative. I think it is important to increase these moments in or everyday life. As you said rightly, it is the shock that spoils the precious moments . What am I afraid of? .. Not to have shown enough of my love and affection to my dear ones, Not to have time to mend the mess I have made so far, what I have to do as a human in my limited time. And not being able to do a painting worth looking at And not to manage to forgive myself and others for our faults as none is perfect. Ofcourse a long list of different funs can be added.

    Big big hugs and kisses


  2. it doesn’t make that much sense to me, that people with faith have less fear of death. Faith in god seems to me should provoke fear – of hell, or even just fear of any future. While lack of faith means I have nothing to be afraid of, as it would be silly to be afraid of the nothingness that is death. I’m afraid of living too long, and losing my mind. I find that terrifying.

  3. what’s another fear?
    fear of life
    fear of commitment
    fear of change
    fear of disease
    fear of pain
    fear of death
    what a fearful heavenly joke!

  4. I laughed out loud reading the insurance salesman story. "Look around you, any dead bodies lying around?" Farokh you always cut right to the obvious. Or what suddenly seems obvious, thanks to your observations. I'm not worrying about life insurance for another moment. xxoo

  5. As we have talked about before, fear and greed are two very powerful factors in all of our lives. Sometimes I will think of Frank Herbert (and probably misquote him) 'Fear is the mind killer' and it acts like a reminder. Too much fear is debilitating. But moments of fear keep us alive. I don't think anyone can be truly fearless…unless they have other issues.

    You know my stance on faith and I don't fear death. To a certain extent it is the ultimate release…or ending. Take your pick and if we're lucky, and you're right, I know you'll probably happily be the first to point that out.

  6. I am one of those with Faith who believe in a life after this, but in my family we have renamed death, we call it the second birthday. So on anniversaries we say this is so and so's first birthday anniversary, or today is so and so's 2nd birthday anniversary. It really makes it a happy occasion, to remember our dear ones by. I don't worry about heaven or hell or punishment in this world or next, I try to live every present moment to the fullest, with mindfulness and love and when I fail at it, the next moment I try the same, not living past fears, or future investments in heaven. Just the present. Lots of love.

  7. It is natural that people are afraid of death, but it is something inevitable that will come one day to all of us..

    I guess it is good to be prepared, no matter in what situation of life we are, because it can happen unexpectedly..

    i think if we have a pure heart, no matter how many mistakes we have made, if we wish others well, if we are not jealous and hateful of others, we will be ok..i mean..there is no reason to fear the all bountiful god if you haven't harmed another life..i guess it is important to have a good conscience and to go to the next realm with good feelings, because what we think at the moment of death is what we will carry over there..

    also will we understand the correlations of the universe which will be quite fascinating, the universe is like a living body and probably every solar system in there is like an atom in comparison to that body…and we will understand it all once we leave this limited dimension and it is said that it will be so wonderful, that we would not be able to stay here if we knew how wonderful it is what is awaiting us there….so why be afraid?

    However, we don't have to hurry to get over there, because we will go there anyway, and we have a purpose here, and if someone is needed here and still has to be around, no matter how great the adversities, they will stay here..i have seen that with my mother, she had cancer, colon, liver tumors, but after almost 9 years she is still doing fine..


  8. I'm not afraid of death more afraid of suffering from illness, if we could plan our death I would much prefer to die peacefully in my sleep.

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