How to face death?
The inevitable and the unavoidable
“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
― Mark twain
Why do you fear death?
- Will it be painful?
- What will happen after my death?
- It is strange that I cease to exist in the world where I have lived so long.
- What will happen to my loved and dear ones?
- How will my death happen?
These sorts of questions plague you and you feel a sense of fear enveloping you when you think of death. Death is inevitable and you cannot avoid it. It is a natural happening when the biological functioning of your body ceases to function. It is true you leave behind the world where you lived for such a long time and also your dear and loved ones. You should accept that life is temporary and you have to go when your time comes.
The day you are born, the date of your death is fixed and each and every day brings you nearer to death. Does that mean you should fear about your life and think that death is stalking you? Far from it!!! Just because death is waiting for you, do you cease to live? No one keeps thinking about it and go about their life normally.
Your loved and dear ones will survive in this world, just as you survived when you lost your loved and dear ones. Life for them will go on and they too will move along. ‘I want to leave this world while I sleep’ my mother tells me always. She is about eighty and I have to accept the fact that she will not survive for a long period. God will give me courage to face a world without my mother, though a part of me would be dead also.
‘It is not death I am afraid of, it is the fear that my death would not be honorable’. This is the fear most of you have. You are frightened that you might fall sick and become bed ridden. Some of you feel that it would be tragedy if you meet with an accident.
What is an honorable death? When you are gifted with a healthy life and you are active till the day you lived and die of old age, you are lucky to have an honorable death. My uncle was aged seventy eight and he was a doctor. He was active till the day he lived and on the day he died he was his usual self. He was sitting in a chair and asked my aunt for water. When she came with water, she found him slumped in the chair dead. No pain, no agony, just a smooth transition from life to death. His was a very honorable death.
What is ill-fated death? Deaths due to accidents, illness, natural calamities or murder are not natural and when death occurs due to such ill fated factors, the trauma and agony the families of the dead undergo are immense and inconsolable.
How to avoid fear of death?
- You should acknowledge the fact that you cannot live forever.
- Go about your work with positive confidence and do not think of death.
- So many people have died before you and they faced it, didn’t they? You too would be able to face it when it comes to you.
- Actually death means an end and finally peace.
- Do not become paranoid with fear of death and forget your duties.
Certain beliefs about death
In India there is a strong belief that there is rebirth and that the dead are reborn seven times in this world. I am not going into a debate about it. They also say that it is your physical body that dies and not the soul. There is a story from the great Indian epic Mahabharata.
Arjuna, one of the central characters in the epic loses his son in the war. He is inconsolable and Lord Krishna said ‘your son has ceased to be your son and would have now been reborn as someone’s child. I will take you there’. Both went to the house where his son Abimanyu was reborn. Arjuna was overwhelmed with sorrow to see his son and rushed to embrace him. But his son did not recognize him as his memories of his last birth ceased to exist for him and now he was a new person. ‘This is what life is. Do not brood in sorrow and do your work’, Lord Krishna advised Arjuna
Life never waits for anyone and rushes rapidly and you too should move along and do your work. You have duties to fulfill and you cannot wallow in sorrow and forgo it. Just as you took over when your parents died, your children also will take over after you go and the chain goes on and on till the world exists. To fear something which might happen anytime is like being stagnant in one place, and to forget death and forge ahead is the true purpose of life.