I have never really thought seriously about about the death of my loved ones. Occasionally, when there is a serious health issue, I of course get worried but thinking about death as an absolute fact is something that I have never done. This scares the hell out of me and that is why, I chose this place to travel in my attempt to meet my shadow self.
I have read somewhere that every kind of fear in our lives can be traced back to the fear of death.I always used to think that people are more worried about their reputation, their egos than death. But I guess, even ego is something that we build because of the fear of death. What is ego? It is knowledge about ourselves and the universe that we think is accurate. You know that there is a God up there (or you know that there is no God). If what you know about yourself and the universe is considered ‘wrong’ by others, you feel threatened. What if they are right? You won’t be able to control the negative thoughts that will flood your head. You have to reprogram your entire belief system. If you are wrong, then someday, you might make a mistake because of your wrong beliefs. In some cases, you might have sacrificed something for your beliefs (for example you sacrificed pleasure for a ticket in heaven and you find out that there is no heaven!) and if you are wrong then you are missing out on all the fun. If you discover that then you will feel pain. What if the pain is too overwhelming? What if you go into depression? What if you go mad? How will you hold a job then? All this is a threat to your survival i.e. you are afraid of death. Ego is therefore an armor that you wear.
Our over-attachment to our loved ones is also related to fear of death. Even here, we are afraid that we might lose control of ourselves. The kind of thoughts that we would have to deal with are no less than a dangerous physical disease. All this disrupts our normal way of functioning.
Obsession with fame is also related to fear of death. You are afraid of being a nobody and death reduces us to dust. This is unbearable to some and hence, they want to ‘leave’ behind something that will exist even after their deaths. The need to control your children is also fear of death. You want the coming generations to embrace your beliefs.
But the fear of death is related to life. If you haven’t exactly ‘lived’ your life, you would be afraid of the clock. But isn’t it funny? We don’t live life because we are afraid of death but we are afraid of death because we haven’t really lived our lives the way we wanted to?
To be very honest, I am more afraid of the death of my loved ones than I am of my own death (This is all theory of course. Who knows how I will behave on my death bed?). Like everybody else, the very thought of losing someone who is so close to you is unbearable to me. But there is nothing that can change this truth. I was thinking of ways of dealing with this. Can you we reduce the pain somehow? Can we prepare for it in advance? We can build defenses, we can deny the truth but when it happens, nothing and absolutely nothing can help us. Theories, plans, security…everything is hogwash. To me, there is only one option: Surrender.
I had a close encounter with death once and what I have learned from it is that when you are close to dying, you completely surrender. All the social masks, all the worries about what others think of you..all disappear. You truly let go. Maybe, reminding ourselves about the certainty of death is the only way to make friends with our shadow selves.