I Don’t Want to Die

I don’t want to die and neither do you.

Another family member died. He was 50 and suffered greatly for over 20 years.

Maybe death was a release for him, I don’t know. The preacher at his funeral said it was. All I know for sure is that he is dead and he ain’t coming back.

People say his suffering is over. They speak of him being in a better place.

He can’t speak for himself on these matters. He is dead.

Maybe he would be willing to suffer as long as that meant he could live another day.

Maybe he would choose this life, the only reality he has ever known, over a promised, never-seen, life in a better place.

All of us seem to think that we know what the dead would have wanted.

Have you ever thought about what it means to be dead?

I have.

Perhaps I am a bit morbid, too introspective for my own good.

I have had those moments in the still of the night, moments when I think of being alive one moment and dead the next.

The reality of non-existence.

In a split second, going from a living, conscious, thinking human to nothing.

I am a glass half-empty kind of person, a pessimist and a realist at heart,

Instead of focusing on all my relatives and acquaintances who have lived 70, 80 or 90 years, I focus on those who haven’t.

Dad was 47 when he died, Mom was 54.

I had several cousins who died in their early 50s.

One of my uncles, in his 30s, was murdered.

My sister-in-law died in a 2005 Memorial Day motorcycle accident, She was 43.

My best friend’s sister, a girl I went to school with in the 1960s, died in her early 50s.

I could go on and on…

These deaths are poignant reminders of my own mortality.

Even if I live to age 70, I have 11 years of life left, just short of the amount of time we have lived in our present home.

I don’t think I will live that long. Maybe I will. I certainly hope so, but my body tells me not a chance.

Despite the pain and increasing loss of mobility and cognitive function, I still want to live.

Maybe there will come a day when I won’t want to live any longer. Maybe not.

Today? I want to be counted among the living.

The truth is this: I fear death.

Death is the one experience that no human, including Jesus, has ever come back from to tell its story.

I fear the darkness and finality that death brings.

Fearing death is quite normal.

Who wants to trade a living existence for the emptiness of the grave?

Someone is sure to say, I hate my life, I wish I were dead.

Fine, kill yourself.

I thought so…

Yes, life can suck, life can be unbearable, and life can bring agony and suffering at every turn.

Yet, we still want to live.

Religion exists for the purpose of calming our fear of death.

Forget all the doctrines, religion is the antidote for the frightening reality of death.

Evangelicals Christians love to talk of being ready to die. Take me Lord Jesus when it is my time to go, they piously say.

They speak with big theological words about not fearing death because of Jesus who conquered death for them.

They speaking of their readiness to die for their faith if called on to do so.

Yet, few Christians seem to be in a hurry to die.

Christian want to live just as everyone else does. Don’t listen to their words. Watch how they live.

I find no comfort in religion, nor do I find any solace in thoughts of returning to the collective universal consciousness when I die.

All I know for sure is that dead is dead and I am not ready to become an urn of ashes scattered along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan.

As the Petra (a Christian rock group) song says, I want to live until I die.

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14 Comments

  1. Robert

    I don’t fear death … it’s the act of dying that I fear :/ once that’s out of the way (as if THAT were a simple task), death won’t hold any concern for me because there will be no “me” to consider the ramifications (good, bad or indifferent) of being dead.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I’m using the word death in the same way you use the word dying. Yours, of course, is more precise. ?

      One of the few advantages of chronic pain and illness is that I have, in some small ways, started to experience dying. I see and feel my body inch by inch stumbling to towards its deadline.

      Reply
  2. Aram McLean

    Dying is trippy, that’s for sure. And dying young is certainly tragic. Dying as an old man not so much. I’m in no rush, but assuming I make it to 80, there’s something akin to intrigue as to what happens next. Highly likely nothing. But it’s the unknown wherein lies the thrill. Perhaps we take over another avatar, not as ourselves whatsoever, but something has to be piloting all those mosquitoes etc. This may well be how we see the world next, with absolutely no connection to what we are now. Who knows? In the meantime, to have existed at all seems to be a rather sweet deal. And then on top of that to have been born into a country that allows you to live a decent educated life, more amazing still. I don’t fear death like I used to, I mean, everyone’s managed it so far. I do fear potential pain, but the act of dying itself, well now, one must have some manners.

    Reply
    1. Geoff

      I often think the same, that our ‘consciousness’ somehow finds itself in another place. No memories whatever of this existence, of course, and perhaps it’s happened many times previously. There’s no evidence for it and it isn’t in any way testable so I don’t usually mention it. But your comment set me thinking…..

      Reply
  3. Steve

    The Christians will have a field day with this post. But I know how you feel; I want to commit suicide; so tired of each pointless, meaningless day. But I don’t, because I want to live. Life is one big gigantic pile of shit & I so long to be released of it. But no, not the living, just the pain that never goes away. Ever

    Reply
    1. Brian

      Hey Steve, you have already committed suicide: Your life, as you express it. So what will you do with your life now that you have decided it is pointless, meaningless. The big pile of shit still has a pulse and wants to live so why the fuck don’t you live. I posted a Maurice Sendak interview that I found really speaks to the issue of life ending, even if through old age alone. The process of living leads to dying but like Woody Allen, I am not afraid of death; just don’t want to be there when it happens. Sendak speaks with the courage of a man who knows he is dying but lives on in a manner that I admire. He loves the sight of hundred year old maples outside his window and he loves it every day. He embraces what is with gusto. Life can be a painful gift, is. Part of what Bruce expresses on this blog is that painful gift but it is certainly not all.
      Regarding life as shit, I disagree. Well, if you become convinced that all life offers is what spurts from your anus, then it is likely you will become double-joint twisted up sufficiently to shit on your own face, and then yes, life is shit 😉
      I am sorry you suffer so much. I appreciate reading your comments on the blog. Well, sometimes… some are just shit. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Brian

        Ohhhhh shite! I realize too late that it is Blue Monday, the third Monday in January…. Steve, my apologies…. life is fucking bullshit!

        Reply
  4. another ami

    I’ve had 2 heart attacks and 6 tiny pieces of metal mesh are keeping the arteries of said heart open. It will likely be the cause of my death and yes I fear it because heart attacks fucking hurt! But yet I am thankful that it will be a heart attack that claims this body rather than a chronic and debilitating disease because I’m allergic to opioids. For me, chronic pain seems a fate worse than death because there would be no easing of the suffering, let alone relief.
    Bruce, the more I read here, the more I admire you. That you continue to publish this blog is a testament to your strength, courage and conviction. (An old Quaker admonishment is to have the courage of one’s convictions, aka “speak truth to power”.) Given what I’ve read, I imagine that the cognitive losses inspire more fear than the physical ones; they would for me, in spite of my fear of pain. It is my hope and yes, prayer (silly me), that your mind will last as long as your body and that through it all you feel the love and support of friends, family and your readers. Even as a woman of faith, I know damn well prayer alone doesn’t pay the bills, so I’ve put my money where my mouth is. The amount is pitiful, but it’s what I can do. Salut.

    Reply
    1. Brian

      Hey another ami, I have three stents after two episodes…. want to start a betting circle? What you said of the writer of this blog, ditto. He is a brave biped and walks freely in the light of the day. I wish him (and you) longevity and I do it because my world needs you.

      Reply
      1. another ami

        Thank you Brian. Your words brought tears to my eyes this morning. My world needs you and Bruce too. Can’t say the same for the Westboro Baptist bunch and those of that ilk, but I’m working on it. Maybe I need them as something to rail against? 😉
        As for that betting pool, I’m hoping for 10 more years but since my stents re-blocked in late 2014, only 4 years after placement, I figure 4-5 is more realistic. In the meantime, I’m committed to fully living each day, not just merely surviving it. I did the later for over 3 decades when I suffered from chronic depression and now that I’m free of it, I refuse to go back to that kind of thinking, even it means a few less years on this planet.

        Reply
  5. Tammy

    It’s the non-existence that is freaky. It’s simply unimaginable to me.

    Reply
    1. Robert

      It’s really not hard at all to imagine non-existence … it existence – without you in it 😉 Simply imagine any time period before you were born and – tada – there you have it … easy 🙂

      Apologies if I sound flippant – but I couldn’t resist

      Reply
  6. maura

    i don’t fear death. i am wary of the process. but dead is dead.

    Reply
  7. Geoff

    Compared with the life of the universe I’ve been alive .00000000001% of that time. Presumably I was dead the rest of the time. (I defy anyone to cross check my totally contrived figure but the point stands).

    Reply

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