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Monday, 4 May 2020

Our fear of dying

When I was young, I never thought about dying. Death was something for old people, not for me. The concept of dying only became real to me, once I became a father. Nevertheless, it took me some twenty more years before I started comparing my own age with my father's age at dying (61). Today, I'm mostly puzzled by nearly everyone's wish to live as long as they possibly can.

I think, feel and believe this reason is related to our common regrets at dying, which all start with the words: "I wish I had ....". Guardian, 2012: "A palliative nurse who has counselled the dying in their last days has revealed the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives. And among the top, from men in particular, is 'I wish I hadn't worked so hard'."

I only have one thing on my bucket list: reconnecting with my daughter. However, it takes two to tango, not one. All other items have gone (eg, vacations). My concepts of Needs-Wants-Beliefs and Awakening have been (very) helpful in rearranging my bucket list. An empty bucket list gives you a peaceful easy feeling (lyrics, video).

I use my days for writing while assuming that my writing is helping others. Why would anyone read my writing if it's not helpful - or at least interesting - to them? To paraphrase an old saying: 670.000+ page views can't be wrong. Writing gives me a purpose, a reason for enjoying each new day. Without a purpose, I would long for an ending.

I suppose this is why I'm enjoying the Netflix series After Life so much, starry Ricky Gervais. I can relate to his character, Tony Johnson. During my 2013-2014 burnout, I felt like him: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and - finally - Acceptance (ie, DABDA). At times, death indeed seemed an easier way "forward" than survival.

My survival required that I accepted myself, including my flaws, and that I believed in the need of loving myself, as a human being. Both are probably the hardest tasks that I've ever fulfilled in my entire life. Quite possibly, this also implies that I have less regrets nowadays. Saying goodbye and farewell has never been easier (for me).

Our lives are governed by a cycle of Needs (eg, food, love), Wants (eg, car, house, job), and Beliefs (eg, longevity, even immortality). For some, a life altering event may lead to an Awakening. Its lessons are remarkably simple: live now, do good, and have no regrets. Hence, there is actually no contradiction between carpe diem and memento mori.

“When you give yourself permission to communicate what matters to you in every situation you will have peace despite rejection or disapproval. Putting a voice to your soul helps you to let go of the negative energy of fear and regret.” A quote by Shannon L. Alder, an "inspirational author".

No Regrets (1975) by The Walker Brothers


Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.

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