Day 14: Relationship with Death

Right now, I'm lying on a bed, trying to get a nap when death pops out in my mind like clockwork again. Being somebody who has been suffering from death phobia for years, I obviously started feeling fear. At the same time, though, I can't help but entertain multiple scenarios of how I might die, the process of it, and what might lie beyond my own death.

I got distracted by it long enough that I figured "maybe I can write a blog post about it". Fun fact, did you know that writing what's in your mind down into something tangible could help reduce stress? I suppose this is why me venting to friends about my death phobia when I occasionally have mild panic attacks from it helped, and I hope that it'd help now.

For this blog post, I'll do you dear readers a favor and skip that part of me thinking about scenarios of how I might die, and go straight to the other two parts.

There was this one scenario from a friend, let's call him A, who used it to calm me down during one of my panic attacks from my death phobia while trying to sleep. A, an atheist, doesn't believe that there will be any afterlife. Instead, to him, he has a different scenario at play.

Realizing that you are indeed dying, you'll probably fruitlessly try to keep your eyes open, let alone moving, even though you're most likely too weak to move your body at this point, and even worse, you're slowly becoming blind. You keep struggling to fight against death, hoping for a miracle that will never come, until you become motionless. For a while, you will be trapped in your own body, absolutely terrified knowing that you can feel yourself literally not being able to breathe, out of reflex, and that your conscious is chipping away bit by not. All you can see is just pitch black void.

Eventually, you'll end up feeling nothing. No fear, no thoughts. Just, nothing.

This last part is the exact scenario he suggested to console me, and I'm grateful for that since at that time it did allow me to see death in an entirely new perspective. I can't help but wonder, though, that if this is what death is like, does that mean all my consciousness will see will be pitch black, and nothing else? If so, will it be capable of sensing the passing of time?

Perhaps I am not supposed to even ask those questions based on the fundamental basis of this scenario alone. Perhaps it's better to leave those things unanswered for the sake of my mental well-being. After all, as cliche as it is, "curiosity killed the cat" exists for a reason.

Another scenario, this time coming from N, is a lot more optimistic in that he hopes (note the lack of "believe") there's an afterlife, but it might not be what you think. Let me explain.

Completely skipping the process of dying, his scenario is more like a sandbox game, or an 'astral plane', where everyone can interact with each others and doing whatever the hell they want, but all of it will only serve as some form of preparatory stage. For what? He didn't specifically mention it as I found out when I checked our chat log. Even then, it's already a hell lot more optimistic compared to what A said.

Not gonna lie, I'd be lying if I say that I don't feel a little bit envious that he's able to be somewhat at peace with death, at least that's what it seemed to me, when compared to me and my brain that refuses to cooperate with me on this exact topic. Though, I sorta feel bad that he may have avoided talking to me about this kind of topic because of my death phobia. Maybe I should open myself up more.

Obviously, since I have death phobia, I am bound to come up with my own theories of post-death scenarios from what I've read throughout my lifetime, as a way to rationalize to calm myself down, even if I don't fully subscribe to them solely because there's way too many things that could potentially happen instead.

One of the theories I came up with was actually tied to the (Buddhist) concept of rebirth; you're chronologically reborn as a completely different person all the time, with any memories of your past life completely erased. Believe or not, the part where your memories are gone terrifies me instead. To me, your memories and what you live through makes you you, it's simply irreplaceable. Willing to wipe out all your own memories like that might as well amount to committing suicide in my book.

Having read enough stories of people having Alzheimer's, fictional or not, I sure as hell do not want that happening to me or my loved ones. Watching Jacob Geller's video about it (NSFW) yesterday further cemented that belief in me, so this one has fallen out of favor. N agreed, by the way, and in fact pointed out how terrifying this would be in our chat log first.

While I'm reading through my chat log with N for his post-death beliefs, I also found out another theory I had that has since long been forgotten till now. Basically, as you die, your own consciousness (and perhaps a silhouette of your body) gets moved into another dimension within the same universe, where you can also see and interact with other consciousnesses. In there, you can go to anywhere you want inside the universe to explore. Black holes? No problem. Galaxies? Definitely a-ok. Other living people to see what they're up to? I sure would like to do that.

Honestly, I'd rather live through either this or what N told me. Both of them gives me something tangible that I can actually look forward to, it'd be frankly pretty awesome. But, well, nobody really knows what happens after you die, so any scenarios mentioned here and beyond are all fair game. I guess we as humanity are destined not to be able to fully know, let alone grasp, what will happen after we die, and I don't know whether this counts as a blessing or a curse.

I have mentioned earlier that I have death phobia, and I figured I should mention the reasons of why I think could be causing it:

  • The process of dying itself, I don't want to imagine how painful would it be
  • Fear of unknown
  • I couldn't quite let go of everything I hold dear to, like my family and N (though at this point my love for him is in part familial), partly because I worry about what might happen to them after I am gone
  • My own ego, mainly in the form of I-don't-think-I-have-contributed-enough-for-humanity

There might be other reasons at play but these are the only major contributing factors I could think of so far, so I'll keep it at that.

Funnily enough, I haven't felt scared thinking about death itself when I'm awake for a while. These days, it's almost always when I try to sleep that my phobia starts to rear its ugly head. Perhaps I've been conditioned to associate death with my sleep, now that I've had months-long mild panic attacks from the aforementioned scenario, or perhaps I have associated the pitch black void itself to death instead.

Whatever it is, it's hella unpleasant and made me not want to sleep, at least for a while before I try again, like right now.

With all that said, I can only come to a conclusion: my relationship with death itself will be a turbulent one, probably for a lifetime to come. The only thing I wish for, hopefully, is that near the end, I am able to be at peace with death.

While I'm at it, I'd like to go off on a tangent to address a few certain entries on my guestbook. If you're reading this, I don't know who you are, but if you have nothing to say other than insulting me, and you're not willing to directly confront me with whatever issues you have with me in person, then I suggest you save your efforts of typing out rude essay-long remarks for something else. I will unfortunately not entertain you any further.

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