Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Ask Susan

How can I make peace with death?

By Susan C. Price

[Questions are followed by answers and then, inevitably by DID expect that...didn’t you?]

God knows I have thought my fair share about death. My goal for many years was to make it past the age at which my father died. I hoped I would find relief in that, but I didn’t.
    Didn’t, that is, until a couple of months ago when I finally shared my fears with my husband as we were talking about my insomnia. I told him about my habit of “going dark,” going into the shadows during my most vulnerable nighttime hours to do battle with the thought of dying. My husband had no wise words to offer me, he just understood. Since that day, I no longer wake up every night and think about the end of my life.
    But I’m still looking for some “wise words” about this. Do you have any to offer me? –Seeker

Dear Seeker,
    It seems to me you got the wisest of words from your husband – none, simply understanding. What a gift! And it worked on the insomnia, brilliant.
    But let’s talk some more about this. I personally feel that anyone who doesn’t think about their own death, and that of those they love, is a blind fool.
    I think your fear of death, and semi-obsessive thinking about it was completely normal. This line of thought is common in this “final quarter” of life. Kind of natural, it seems to me. Just as natural as dreaming of a college when you are a teenager? Those who (a) don’t have an unshakable sunny disposition, (b) are not fully engulfed/overburdened with care or poverty or illness, and (c) aren’t stupid, can see the writing on the wall. Some of what is to come might well be unpleasant: illness, family and friends ill and dead. Sometimes we dwell on that for a bit...then think up something new to do, or someone else provides a distraction and on we go. And, unless one is severely and/or clinically depressed, at some point you get bored with these thoughts/worries about death, reach out to someone, or both, and find that you can move on into acceptance.
    Yup, death is gonna happen, And it’s gonna happen to you and yours, but you can’t change that fact by thinking about it or worrying about it. And of course there are tons of data to tell you that worrying about it, and in particular, loss of sleep, brings the guy in the hood with the scythe ever closer (or insert your particular dark vision).
    I like to think that I don’t fear death (and what difference does it make if I do?). I assume (ok, we are venturing into religion and all kinds of deep water and possible offensive views here...) that death will simply be...nothingness, no awareness, no me. So, in my mind, there is not much to fear, as I won’t feel the absence of me. Of course I am mightily pissed that the world will continue without me, and seriously worried that I will miss good times, interesting information, and great food.

[We like to try to help, so if you have a question for Susan, send it in!]

Copyright © 2016 by Susan C. Price

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