Sunday, March 21, 2010

On Death, And Dying

I have a laundry list of fears that range from the conventional to the abstract. For instance, I'm terrified of flying. The other big one, that actually sends me into a panic attack, is dying.

Whenever I start thinking about Death, and Lord knows it happens at weird times and more often than I'd like, I have to forcibly tell myself to go on to another topic. I start listing "Shiny, Happy Thoughts" in my head to erase the scary cloud that dying leaves lingering overhead.

When we moved here, as I was getting to know my neighbour, we started talking throughout the months about everything under the sun. The subjects of flying, and consequently dying, came up. The uncanny truth was revealed that not only did my friend have the exact same phobias as me, but "death" sent her into heart clenching shocks as well. Who knew? It was comforting to know that I'm less of a freak.

I wonder sometimes if the fact that we can, in some ways, "move on" from a loved ones death actually means that we're just in some sort of denial of our own mortality. If we just remember them fondly and move forward, we're in some way avoiding thinking about the disgusting reality of where they are now and that one day, we'll be there too. That, of course, starts the thought train down the path of religion. Human beings are a smart bunch, but we're also really good at denial and avoidance. It's not a stretch to think that the progression of philosophy from Greek Gods to explain natural phenomenon, to more current doctrines, isn't a result again of our need to make something make sense, or make it somehow more pleasant. That's not to say that the thought of dying is somehow pleasant now. 'Cause it's not. At least, not to me.

There are people out there, believe it or not, that say things like, "there's no sense worrying about it. When it's your time, it's your time." What the? I have never understood how some individuals can be so flippant about it all. You know the types. They are fearless in the face of crazy, risky activities. I am in shock and awe while in their presence, and the line is always the same uttered from various mouths, "if it's my time, it's my time. Nothing I can do about it." Umm, ya, there is something you can do about it. How about NOT jumping out of an airplane and upping your chances? I just don't get the nonchalance about it all. "If I'm going to die, I'm going to die." Or, "I'm not going to forgo doing something because I'm afraid." Why the hell not??? Some people talk about death like it's no big thing. Really? I'm not ready at all for that eventuality. I don't want to leave people I love or things I have yet to do. That casual perspective about it is frankly chilling to me. I'm sure I'll go out of this life kicking and screaming and fighting-the same way I came in, and roughly the same way I've lived this life so far.

I believe in a higher power, and I do believe that our souls carry on and our presence can be felt. I don't believe we are ever truly forever gone, because our memories and our energy is felt by all of those we've left behind. If you want to call that comforting, I guess for some it might be. For me, it doesn't really begin to blanket the fears.

I think for me, what I've puzzled out through the years, is that it all boils down to control. I'm a control freak. I like to have my finger on the pulse of everything going on around me. I feel panicky when things are no longer in my power. Of course, in life, that control is snatched from us again and again. Usually when it's happened to me, it's been a negative in my life. I think that has created a need, for me, to hold all my puzzle pieces close to my heart, gripped in clenched hands. The things that make me most fearful are things over which I have no control. I can't control a plane and whether it plummets to my end, and I can't control when or how I'm going to die, or lose a loved one.

While I was in the shower yesterday, the "death thoughts" started again. I was missing my Granny and thinking about my time. That led me to panicking about my girls time. I remember when I was little, I used to almost wish that I was never born; so that I didn't have to die. I was washing my hair and starting to get the flutter in my chest and the tightness in my throat. It truly triggers an actual physical reaction.

I quickly stopped myself and went to my happy place. I started listing all of the good things coming up in the next months and things that I'm looking forward to doing or seeing. I felt my pulse slow and my breathing return to it's regular cadence.

Geesh, speaking of unnecessary risky activities! I'm going to CAUSE a heart attack by trying not to obsess over dying!!! Now, after writing this, it's opened up Pandora's box of thoughts once again.

Happy I come!

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