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Your Thoughts on Death and Dying

Posted Oct 15 2008 7:54am

Here are the survey results for the question, "Are you comfortable with the issue of mortality?" My readers shared these thoughts. Feel free to add your own comments and perspectives below...

77.2% Yes, I accept death as a fact of life, my own and those I care about. I am comfortable discussing it, even when it is painful.

  • Kind of distant on the subject, while I am ok with my own mortality and accept it is a fact of life, it doesn't make it any less painful when thinking about the death of someone close to me. I'm more numb to that fact...approach it very clinical.
  • I believe we live on after the body passes.
  • i do notice that as i'm getting older (i'm 52) it's becoming more "graphic" for me. the other day i was wondering about the mechanics of cremation, for example, and hoping i'd be REALLY physically dead when that happens.
  • I accept it, I've lost people close to me but it scares me sometimes. It's more the 'what if' factor that frightens more ... it's like a bogeyman. I can work myself into a truly stressed state by imagining I might die because I left this symptom or that symptom too late and yet I am okay talking with people who have terminal illnesses, or talking with others about death.
  • I think being childless might be helpful to me, though I'm not sure. Sometimes I'm concerned with 'becoming a burden' to someone, but in general I'm planning for a peaceful, conscious (& well-organized) death, and am curious about the next step. The plight of the world as it is makes it easier to let go, I think. Sometimes I wonder (& worry) about what we've left/are leaving for our kids.
  • My faith in God allows me to be comfortable knowing that the after life must be a better place.
  • What truly matters can never die. Humans aren't the be-all end-all of the universe, so it's really not that huge a deal if we die. After all, we've been doing it since the beginning.
  • Even though I am very comfortable with discussing and thinking about death and dying, there are a few people in my life who I really don't want to die. When I think about their mortality, I am encompassed with very uncomfortable feelings that have yet to find resolve.
  • I was converted to my faith, in Jesus, as a young guy, around the pivotal issue of life and death, and does this whole thing jell or what? I landed on "yes it does" and everything else falls from there. So I teach Philosophy now, and the more I push on this, the more I see that this intuition is well-founded.
  • This of course, is at the heart of everything important to me. I find it utterly appalling and completely ridiculous that people do not discuss death. I have a complete faith of life past the physical, so I am comfortable in discussing it.
  • Yes. I'd like it to be understandable for everyone. Maybe not so scary to watch and I'm not sure beyond that.
  • I have been involved in the support system of three very close friends who have died of cancer, and I have learned from their example about death and dying.
  • This has been an evolving issue for me. When I belonged to a religion, the answers were easier -death = afterlife. Then I broadened my views to include reincarnation -- a concept I like a lot, because it makes sense to me. As I've gotten older, however, I realize I am not sure of anything, including that there might be some kind of state after death. The concept of living and just dying still unnerves me, but I'm willing to accept that it just might be true.
  • I don't know that I'm actually "comfortable" discussing it, but I can do it. Also, I find this culture's standard death rituals more than a little creepy and not terribly helpful.
  • While I say I am 'comfortable' with it - I also have to say that I am absolutely TERRIFIED at the thought of losing my parents. As an only child, I am extremely close to them...and am truly dreading that time. Freaks me out in a very big way. Reading a lot about angels and spirit guides which is helping. I'm also about to lose my cat. He is my best bud, and is terminally ill. I experience waves of grief even now, but also try to be 'in the moment' as much as I can with him. He is an amazing teacher to me right now.
  • Very OK talking about it. Accept it. Concerned about pain or suffering, but know it will be managed in some way to minimize any extremes. I'm fascinated about "the other side". I think and journal about it frequently. It has been a source of curiosity since I was a child.
  • I was a hospice counselor so I have learned to deal with it.
  • I am blessed to have a good relationship with death. I can still grieve and be angry about losing someone, but my problem is not that they're dead just that I miss them.
  • I think the scariest thing about death isn't death at all, but knowing that the loved ones you left behind will grieve.
  • Acceptance is a work in progress even though I've lost very close family members. I do wish more people were comfortable talking about it though since I've experience so much loss - it would be nice to share my thoughts and experiences with others without them cringing, giving me the pity "poor you" look, or running from the room like their hair is on fire!
  • I work as a hospice nurse so I deal with this issue everyday -- most of the families I work with do not want to look at dying and seek every option open to them to avoid it.I am not ready to die. When I really think about it, I am a bit fearful.
  • Everybody dies. It happens to everybody. Everybody knows it will eventually come, so why be scarred of it? Nobody knows what happens after either. Why be scarred about something nobody knows about. Death could be amazing if there is a heaven, could be horrible if there is hell and could be absolutely nothing, which is well...absolutely nothing...
  • mom or sister. I can't imagine one of them dying.
  • and also aim for immortality- to be able live eternally within the Divine.
  • I believe most of society is delusional over this. It's residual from several thousand years of those with power and resources telling those without that there is another life after this one. It's bullshit.
  • I see death as a transition from one form of existence to another. There is sadness at the missing of another, but not fear for them.
  • My mortality is more in my face now with my mother slowly winding down.
  • It is necessary to lead us to what's next.
  • I can't imagine life without my partner - that is scarry and I would be so alone, emotionally and children or close family left
  • I love love love philosophy and spirituality and that is how I found you. I intend to have on my tomb stone "Off on the next great adventure!" No death, no life - simple equasion really.
  • Seems to me it's futile to concern oneself with the reality of death. On the other hand, we all (to a degree) have a choice of where, when and how we will die. Fade to Theme song from MASH .....
  • i accept it and can talk about the deaths that have occured, but feel creepy talking about the death of myself or other still living - bad luck? evil eye?
  • I firmly believe that that spark of life that is at the core of each of us continues on after this carbon/physical body dies and that belief actually brings a smile to my face. I miss my loved ones that have already passed and will miss those who will but I feel comforted by my belief and gut feeling that all is as it should be.
  • Actually if you'd had some sort of selection between the top choice and number two, I'd safely fall between those two choices :)
  • I accept it, I am not afraid of it and it seems it would make life easier some days if it would just come quickly...not for ANY of my loved ones, though. I have faith that I will be in heaven the micro-second I die and am not the least bit afraid of dying (it's not the plane ride that scares's the confinement) I'm very comfortable discussing death with anyone.
  • Although I accept death as part of life, the infinate terrifies me.
  • Working in a nursing home; it happens and I'm forced to think about it quite a bit.
  • I am a shaman. I walk the path of freedom. Death is my ally. When I look at Death Mother, I face my own truth. I see what my true values are. I see what I give my time to. I see what is truly important and I get perspective in life. I am also a Muertera, which means that I perform death rituals for those who die and their families, and that I can communicate with the spirits of those who pass away. The veil is so thin! It is made only of light frequency. I am a spirit drawing ever-changing energy patterns. So are the dead. The difference is that I took on a dress for a while, my Ego personality, my personal story, and one day I'll shed it. It won't be easy, but practicing to let go, as I've been doing for a long time, helps me.
  • I'm comfortable intellectually, and I'm comfortable discussing, and yet I find the deaths of people I care about to still be a wearing emotional and physicall process -- to my surprise. I always feel like I ought to be better at grieving than I am.
  • I'm unusual in that i can communicate with people that have died, so know that they are much happier then we are! i get jealous of them sometimes :-)
  • Every thing changes but that damn posion ivy grows back every year if it is imortale may be we all are to.
  • Losing a friend like Matt Potenti in High School has had a great deal of influence on my view of mortality. He would have been a friend for life. I often encounter experiences I'm saddened are not shared. Even to this day.
  • I can talk about it but I fear other's may not be so comfortable.
  • 9.8% Yes, but it's like the elephant in the room. It isn't a topic that I can discuss very easily. I'm not denying it, but I can't say I approach it either.

    • Mostly I dread loosing my parents because, at least in my case, they have truly provided me with unconditional love. I am not sure that exists from anyone else.
    • I'm not afraid to die, and although I miss people when they die, I know their spirit is still alive, they are not restricted by their body anymore, so I am happy for them, but other people don't understand this, so I don't talk to other people about my beliefs much on this topic.
    • I have experienced 3 close family members passing away in the past 3 years. I have become more comfortable than I care to be at this time of my life.
    • Our family has been through too much of this in the last 2 years to not think of it as that darned elephant. But, it does seem inevitable doesn't it.
    • I can discuss my own mortality with no problem. In fact, now that I'm newly divorced, I'm pre-arranging my funeral. Bought my cemetery plot when Mom died. However, to discuss mortality with my 84.5-year-old Dad is another story. He seems to be grasping at anything he thinks can prolong his life. It's an elephant in the room talking to him.

    5.7% Sort of. I go to funerals and such but I haven't really lost anyone that close to me so it still feels a little distant.

    • I don't think other people's mortality bothers me as much as my own. Maybe when my parents die it will hit me harder. Other people's aging bothers me worse than their death - if they die it's the same as if they moved away and I lost touch. If they age I have to feel sad about their problems and worry about my own aging.
    • Americans, in general, are uncomfortable around death. It is something we fear. What I fear most about death is the idea of leaving this earth with regrets of things not done.
    • For me its more about religion.. I have left it on the curb many years ago and I can sometimes look enviously at others who have the "faith" and comfort of confronting death.
    • I am comfortable philosophically. I have never been "devastated" by a person's death, as in rendered non-functional. I don't know how I could handle, truth be told, the death of someone I deeply love. I believe in reincarnation 1000%. To an enlightened being, death is like a summer vacation in between school years/lives. I agree but - it's ridiculous trying to wrap your mind around "not ever seeing someone again," who has been in your life so many years. Surreality.
    • I have lost someone close to me, but "sort of" seems like the best answer. I try to be realistic about death, but I know it will be hard to lose my mother and terribly difficult if siblings die before me.

    4.9% No. I really don't like to think about it or talk about it and I don't feel prepared to lose anyone close to me.

    2.4% No, absolutely not. It's scary, depressing and I don't know how I would handle it if I lost someone close to me. Personally, I intend to live forever and insist all my loved ones do too.

    • No, absolutely not. It's scary, depressing and I don't know how I would handle it if I lost someone close to me. Personally, I intend to live forever and insist all my loved ones do too.

    Other comments:

    • None of the above apply. I can tell you that I think our bodies are just shells for our being. Still, the actual thought of death is somewhat frightening to me.
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