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Essay on Death

Is It Reasonable to Be Afraid of Death and How to Treat It?

We shall all die. I am not trying to be apocalyptic or something; it is simply a statement of fact. Every living being dies in the long run; however, there are a lot of possibilities to postpone death. A man may live 20, 50, 80 or even 100 years; but no man can live, for example, 200 years. Thus, death is foreseeable for all of us, and there is nothing we can do about it.

I very much doubt that the development of science and technology will ever do anything about it. And, quite logically, it seems that there is no need to be afraid of it. But does it help us not to be afraid? Hardly so. I don’t believe there is a single person in this world who is not afraid of it – even if one persuades himself in the opposite, some animal fear still remains.

And, perhaps, it is right. For there is some kind of unpleasant fatalism in being indifferent to death; I feel it as if a man who is really indifferent to death will be in the same way quite indifferent to life. The will to preserve life is embedded in the innermost of our nature, and this, probably, can be compromised by the absence of fear of death.

Thus, to my mind, we are all afraid of death for a good reason, for it helps us stay alive. Who knows, maybe if we weren’t afraid to die, we would be all too eager to do it in case of little problems that, normally, are considered to be too petty to be causing depression.

Now, when we have figured out that it is reasonable to be afraid of death, the question arises how to treat death prudently? Death is a very delicate matter, so delicate that many people consider it to be of poor taste to mention it at all. But it exists and, however unpleasant this idea may be for some people, it is better to look at what you dislike, than to be surprised by it.

What is the reasonable attitude towards death? To everyone his own, as wise people say. It is hardly possible to invent a universal formula that would be correct for all people, but some things, I think, remain unchanged. Death is inevitable for all people; in the end, it is always the same, and the way you die doesn’t really matter as long as you are dead. You have no power over it; yet, you have power over how you spend the entire life before it.

I treat the inevitability of death as yet another motivation to try and do as much as possible right now, for I know that the time of my life is limited and, no matter what actually awaits me after death, it would be something entirely different from what I am used to in life. There is no use thinking about death all the time; but thinking about the limited nature of time is useful. From this perspective, the only thing every person may try to ensure is not to be ashamed of his life.

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