Death. The one and only thing we are certain about in life. The question that continues to loom though is “Why despite knowing this Do We Continue to Fear Death then?”.
It is human nature to believe what we see. It is also human nature to be certain about what we know. The things we do not know, we seek to know so we can either believe or dispute myths and ideologies. It is one reason science exists and excels. Still, as mortals, some things elude us, especially things that have to do with realms beyond the earth. One of these things is death.
Everyone knows about the certainty of death. We know that to enter this earth is to exit it after a while, but we still cringe at the mention of death or even the thought of it. Why do we fear death? People fear it for a number of reasons. For some, it’s because death doesn’t recognize the old or the young, for others, it is the uncertainty that lies beyond this earth.
I know religion promises heaven for the ‘saved’ ones, and hell for those who refuses to be ‘saved’ in spite of good morals. Could it be that the fact that our mind can’t fathom what lies at the other side poses the greatest fear about death?
As humans, we like to know things for sure. We want things to either be black or white. Going by our extremely logical nature, the grey area scares us. The only way to know about the afterlife is to die, and as it is, once we die, there is usually no return. Could this be the scariest thing about death?
If death leads us straight to heaven, why the fear? Why worry to leave a street barely tarred to a place tarred with gold and full of breath-taking mansions? Why worry about going to a place so supernatural and sparkling, that produces no sorrow or ill? A place with no thoughts but awe. Why? If heaven does not scare us, then what scares us? The thought that hell exists too?
No doubt, there are other factors that scares too – the bond we share with fellow humans. The bond of fatherhood, motherhood, sisterhood, friendship, and with spouses. Since death is usually a separation of some sorts, we dread to leave these people behind, especially our children who are just growing and processing this isle called earth. Our duties as custodians of fellow humans makes us strive to be alive, so our absence does not affect their lives’ journey. Another factor is the desire to enjoy our existence to the fullest, since we can only be present in our bodies once.
There is the school of thought that the creator of the earth owns us all. Based on that, he takes care of us with or without those he has appointed as guardians for us (parents in this case). So, if he’ll take care of anyone left behind should death occur, why are we scared? If it is about enjoyment, more enjoyment is promised in the afterlife, especially if one is ‘saved’. There is also the promise of rest, where all struggles, phobias and labors would cease. So again, why the fear? Who doesn’t want to rest and have joy without lifting a finger?
Lastly, people fear death because of legacy. Knowing fully well that this side of life is only passed once, we want to leave our footprint so people who come after us know that someone once passed this way. We want our life on earth to have a lasting effect. So, we crave for a more lasting shelf life. Still, there is the belief of a new heaven and a new earth where all we did in this present life would not matter.
So why do we fear death? Is the uncertainty of will happen in the afterlife the scariest factor? On my part, knowing this has somehow set the precedent of how I go about my day-to-day life, and somehow birthed the ‘ye nfa kyi’ (why bother/ why stress about stuff/ something) attitude on the inside, and the bravery to do things I had the deepest of fears for, under the pretext of “if it doesn’t harm anyone around me, or I myself, then I’ma do it’ [be afraid and do it anyway kinda confidence].
Ahh ahh! Gwe just imagine not living your best days of your youth because you’re too busy being loyal to your 55-year-old self and playing it too safe; years which you’re not even sure you will reach.
Like I like to say: “The only day you are sure of is the one you are living, therefore, make the most of every moment”, is a quote that I also came up with and is a daily guiding principal, because to be quite honest, tomorrow is never promised, and there’s no point in postponing happiness or engaging in something that makes your heart tick till everything is just perfect.
On social media, we casually joke about what would one do in case they had an exam/ test the next day, but however have a party the day before. we usually say ‘a retake is temporary but enjoyment is forever’, or ‘a test/ exam can be redone but not a party missed’, and when you come to think of it, it makes sense.
Wealth, education, relationships are all earthly things. We do perish and leave them behind. Therefore, make time for the things that make you truly happy, also endeavor to leave with more memories, and not monies. A cheerful heart you’ll carry with you, wherever you go.
Make peace, spread love & kindness. This time of the pandemic when we can no longer go outside/ hang out as much as we used to is also a lesson that once everything goes back to normal, we should hang out and get closer with our people, friends and relations, take more photos (I know many males would disagree on this part, taking photos ain’t our favorite cup of tea as such), but you see, taking photos of moments/ memories keeps our hearts alive, even when sad and you stare at a photo you took with someone, be it friend, a stranger, celebrity/ role model, there’s a way it lights up your mood, because then it brings back thoughts about how you felt that day it was taken.
Give your people their flowers while they can still smell them, I can’t stress this enough. Tell who you love you love them, those who’s work you admire and greatly inspires, reach out to them and let them know how much their works have inspired your own. “Everything we say at funerals at funerals should be said at birthday parties instead. We really go with so much love unspoken”.
Hug your bros, send those risky texts, apply for that job that you think are not qualified for, ask that girl/ guy out to a date, write that proposal/ book, start that blog/ podcast/ vlog, open up that business, leave that toxic relationship/ workplace, smile and laugh out loud like your life depends on it, go for that road trip you’ve always wanted to go for, commit to that gym/ workout plan, make those video calls & lengthy chitchat phone calls, and a tone of other activities that you might have wished to do but held yourself back. Trust me it’s not even about money/ finances to execute some of these above or whatsoever activity you have in mind, but taking the bold step and telling yourself you are going to make something happen. Remember, ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’. And like Prince EA and other philosophers put it, “in the end we regret not the things we did, but rather those we didn’t, because we were too afraid to even try.”