Coping with the Prospect of Death

by | Aug 1, 2021 | Bereavement and Grief, Emotions, Human Thinking and Behavior | 1 comment

I recently listened to a new song: Roger Ebert. I learned about the song from a Facebook post by the son of a man with a recently diagnosed deadly disease. 

The song is about the last words of Roger Ebert, famous movie critic, who died in 2013. Just before he succumbed to cancer, he wrote a letter to his wife, Chaz. He wrote, about life: “It’s all an elaborate hoax.” 

His last words amounted to a review not of a movie, but of life.  People die the way they live.

I don’t know that dying individuals have any special insight into the meaning of life. But Roger’s view is similar to that of a few philosophers and others who believe we all are part of a simulation. 

I have wondered whether having the simulation belief makes it easier for individuals to face their own end. The belief is like concluding that I never really existed, so dying is nothing. 

Certain religious beliefs provide comfort near the end to some individuals: I am going to heaven when I die. I will see my deceased parents. I will live forever.  All my suffering and sacrifice will have paid off. 

Some scientists lean toward this one: I did not exist for the first 13.8 billion years of the universe we know, and death will amount to more of the same non-existing. 

Certain individuals comfort themselves near the end by thinking of all they have accomplished and experienced. They think of the love they have given and received, the places they have visited, and so on. 

Personally, I would like to live long enough to think this: I have beaten the male average for lifespan. It is about 81 years in Australia — did I ever tell you that this is a great country?

There are some individuals who view their future death as a release from physical or psychological suffering. 

Much different are folks too terrified of death or of the dying process to think about it at all — until they approach death’s door. The denial may lead them to run out of time to complete important tasks, like making a will and saying so long. Also, they may experience so much fear that they do not enjoy their life as much as they might.  

If you don’t mind my asking: What are your thoughts about leaving this life?


Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

1 Comment

  1. I am on the scientific side but that does not make death easier to accept because once you have embarked into the journey of life and you are aware of your existence, the prospect of going back to nothingness remains haunting even though not painful. I believe that the easiest way to cope is either that death releases you from suffering or you have given up on yourself.

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