What is the Most Terrifying Thing About Death?

I’m in a bit of a morbid mood right now, so bear with me. Death is a terrifying thought for many reasons. Death itself doesn’t really scare me. Once I’m gone I’m gone, that’s it. But the process of dying is kind of scary. I don’t want to suffer. I don’t want to be in pain. When I die, I hope it’s quick. But I’m also afraid that my life won’t mean anything. Mostly I just view this as a silly flaw of our society. We are told that being average isn’t good enough and that we should strive to be special. But there are 7 billion of us. What are the chances that even a seventh of the human population will know my name after I die? And why should I care? I don’t know a billion people. I’ll never even know a million, or a thousand. At most I’ll know a couple hundred, and I’ll know less than half of that well. So why do I care if my life means anything? 

I don’t want to die with regrets, so I want to enjoy life as much as possible. And I want to accomplish as many of my goals as possible. I want to have children and see them grow into adulthood. I want to get published and travel a lot. But mostly I just want to be happy. If I die happy, then my life can’t have been for nothing. It doesn’t matter if anybody remembers me, or if I left anything with my name on it behind. It only matters that I enjoyed the time that I had.

So why is death scary? I suppose at this point it is scary because I’m 25 and, with any luck, my life won’t even be half over for another 20 years. But there is always the chance that I could die tomorrow. I’m not ready to die, which makes the very idea scary.

6 responses to “What is the Most Terrifying Thing About Death?

  • samcroarkin

    I believe death is mostly feared because it is associated with meaninglessness. To die without meaning is the same fear as to live without meaning. To live is to have the potential to still be meaningful, and often the case is we take comfort in that if we are not meaningful now, we may still be. Death is the end of that possibility, and the fear is we will not fulfill our potential when the time comes.

    As for perfection and meaning, I believe every human should strive for that. Sure it is a lofty goal, but without a goal or aim, we are wandering, pathless beings constantly battling meaninglessness and the fear of failure.


    • hessianwithteeth

      Can’t we have goals without wanting to be perfect? I have a lot of goals, but I know that I’m not perfect and never will be. I’ve noticed that people who aim for perfection often either refuse to see their mistakes or get so caught up in fixing their mistakes that they never move on from them. I’d rather acknowledge my mistakes and then move past them.


      • samcroarkin

        I think the difference between our two views is that I do not mean “accept no less”, but rather make it a target. I would always rather be overambitious and fail than underambitious and moderately successful. Perfection simply gives on an aim.

        Now if someone gets hung up on being only perfect, that is another issue.


  • Alex Jones

    Death is an opportunity. It depends upon your attitude on if their is life beyond death, as an animist I support the idea of reincarnation, which means that I am not so worried about death as others.

    I would like to be remembered too, leaving a legacy. For most people the end state is they will be forgotten.

    In my town of Colchester there was a poor boy called John Harding, who had no special talent, or rank, or reputation. John aged 14 was murdered by his family, was buried in an unmarked grave. Mostly all those important people who read or heard about his death, people with reputation, rank and riches are dead, they are forgotten. John is remembered in books and plays. I paid for a marker for John’s grave a few years ago, and in the graveyard people talk about John on their tours. John’s grave has flowers by anonymous people when I happen to pass it. John has influenced me, he has strangely left a legacy. John died in 1870.

    I shall write a blog today adding my thoughts on the subject you have raised.


  • thethoughtfulquill

    I enjoyed this post. It’s nice to know that someone else out there dislikes society’s message that we must be extraordinary in order for our life to have meaning. I’m not ready for death either. There’s so much I want to do-raise and expand my family, see my grandchildren, enjoy being empty nesters with my husband. Ultimately, I have mixed feelings about death. I view it as both scary and, because of my religious beliefs, a new beginning to an even better life. I know that last part may not make much sense. Sorry.


  • kat

    when your time comes, it comes. of course i’d like to hope it isn’t painful or drawn out. but whether i live or die, it makes no difference to me.


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