I think about dying a lot. With a last name like mine, I suppose that’s inevitable. And given that I cover the life and health industries, my work doesn’t allow me the luxury of forgetting the fact that we are all living on borrowed time. This doesn’t necessarily have to be an awful thing, though. Twice in my life, I entered situations where I was certain my death was imminent – once in a car crash, the other when I got swept down a swollen river – and both times I did not feel any fear whatsoever. Both times, interestingly, I thought to myself with a sense of calm resignation, “Well, this is how it’s going to happen.”
I credit my calm demeanor both times to the fact that those instances came upon me quickly. I did not have the time to do anything but recognize my situations for what they were, and to analyze my options. Seeing none, I did all I could do: accept my situation. It was only afterwards, when I had survived, that I got scared over what had happened.
(Incidentally, in the first situation – the car crash – my resignation was ill-placed. The car I was in was so solidly built that I was in no real danger, even though I thought I was about to go up in a Hollywood-style fireball. The second time, in the river, however, I was in the very real danger of drowning.
But for most, the fear of death tends to come more slowly. And in our medically advanced society, it is not uncommon for people to receive a death sentence in the form of a terminal diagnosis. Some refuse to accept their fate, fighting to the end. Others are ready for it, perhaps strengthened by an inner belief system that makes death, if not welcome, not something to resist.