Do people fear dying?

I have been thinking and reviewing my life. Let me begin by saying I am a retired Physician Assistant. While employed I was privy to many patients with disease processes which were horrific. Various types of cancer and a range of neurological diseases for starters. I used to watch terminal patients come back (not on their own power) for treatment/ any treatment for another day or two of life. By this time they had gone thru most if not all their Insurance benefits, many times their homes and every liquid cent they possessed, all for a few more days of life. Is the fear of death that strong? That question is really ridiculous because virtually no one gets out alive. There are no survivors of life. Why do people cling to life so desperately even to the point of financing Medicine to find a cure for death. Don't laugh, every so often you hear that some scientist or other may have found a way to cheat death or reduce/stop aging. So I ask myself, what is so horrible about death? In fact it may be an improvement to life, most certainly it is doubtful that it can be any worse than life. Any thoughts, I am open to all ideas.

Note I am NOT suggesting ill people should not be treated neither am I suggesting suicide. Its just death is a natural end to life. Perhaps one is required to earn it. Why are people so afraid of it.

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Published in Senior Chatters


  1. georgia

    Very thought-provoking, zero. It would seem most of us will say we are not afraid of death when it is not on our doorstep. The will to live is likely the strongest we possess. Conversely, I have witnessed those who, when faced with prolonged disease and pain, wish for nothing more than to die and are genuinely unafraid. Instead, they bravely invite the death to end their suffering, too weary of life to any longer see its value. They view death as a merciful blessing; a way out of a life that no longer resembles a life.

  2. tessa

    I’m not “afraid” to die, I’m afraid of pain and/or suffocation. I’ve seen a man die but it was a drawn out and quiet death. I read about the dying process and what to expect so I wouldn’t be shocked and horrified. And when it did finally happen I was assured by several medical persons that I was lucky because many do not die quietly, they struggle and appear to be suffocating, etc. . Fearing death is an exercise in futility. It is self-defeating behavior. Living each day offers enough challenge, why waste time creating more burdening thoughts. There is nothing to feel guilt about. We die, it’s over. People left alive will heal and go right on w/out us. Simple as that. We do what we can while we live to perhaps help family members financially but that is the salving of our own conscience and the maximum extent of our ability as the inevitable end draws near. So, again, no I don’t fear an end to brain function, just any associated pain. (Brain death is death, no debate for me there.)

    1. zero Post author

      It is good that some people at least have given thought to the issue rather than ignoring it until is is on them. I do not fear being dead but I am not wild about the thought of actually doing the deed so to speak. Thank you for taking time to respond to the post.

  3. waylander

    I have held the hands of men as they died. I have seen them go screaming abuse and others with all their thoughts for their loved ones.

    I have come to the conclusion that death is inevitable and have reconciled myself to my eventual death and that frightens me not at all. My fear is the manner of that death. If I can go out quick and clean that will be a blessing.

    1. zero Post author

      Hello waylander, I think we have met. Very well said. Interesting about the actual dying and the range of emotional response to it. I agree with you completely . Thank you for responding.

  4. grandmaj

    I don’t fear death, its going to happen to all of us and nothing we can do about it. I seen a lot of people dying when I worked at a hospital for ten years. Some begged for it as they were suffering for so long and they wanted the pain to end. The saddest one I seen was this elderly lady of about 80 who had a terminal cancer and she was in a lot of pain despite the pain meds she was on she suffered day in and day out. Because her family had power of attorney over her health, and I don’t know if everyone knows or have it where you live but in the ladies chart there is a section NFR which means Not for resus… Meaning they chose not to have resuscitation. This lady was in agony and nearly everyday her body gave up, but because her family chose that she was to be resuscitated every time this poor woman was bought back to life. She cried and cried begging the Doctor to let her go, his hands where tied as if he didn’t resuscitate her he would of been sued by the family. The Doctor was very upset you could tell everytime he had to resus her. The nurses all were upset. The Doctor tried to explain to family members how much he was suffering. I know the family just did not want to lose their loved one. But it was the cruellest thing I had ever witnessed at that time in my life. One day I came into work went straight to see her, and it was the happiest day as she had died during the night couldn’t be resuscitated she was finally at last at peach and no more suffering for her. Sorry that’s probably off subject..

    1. zero Post author

      No grandma you are not off subject. the term in this country is DNR for do not resuscitate. It is good that you do not fear death and you have obviously given it some thought.

  5. emnora

    I am staring at death as I speak. Am I afraid? Not in any way. I have lived a good life and have tackled every obstacle placed in my way with a sense of humor. I am trying to figure out a way to have a recording of terrified screams piped into the crematorium during my cremation. I attend to let death know I will have the last laugh.

    1. cappuccino

      What a brilliant idea Em 🙂
      I want my ashes mixed with a little sand,cement and water ,so I can be poured into a mold and become a garden gnome !

  6. macathy

    I think our generation ,more than any so far,think about death and are comfortable with it.I often talk to the children and grandkids about it as well so they feel more at ease with the thought of dying.I just hope I die in my sleep peacefully.

    1. zero Post author

      You are probably are correct that more people currently think about the issue. Kudos to you for discussing with family. I hope you get your wish.

  7. Linda

    I am only afraid that I will die too early. If I still feel like I need to accomplish something, I want to stay until I get whatever it is that is my calling is done. For now it helping raise my grandchildren.

    If I am ill and my quality of life is not good, then I hope that I will be allowed to pass peacefully.

    I rather like the idea of piped screams into crematorium. Before I decided to be cremated, I knew I wanted a closed casket, don’t what whatever the funeral staff make me look like be the last thing my loved one sees. I wanted to put up a couple photos, me as a child, me as a teen, me as mature woman, and lastly a photo of a skeleton in a cute pose.

    I do not want a funeral service, I want a celebration of my life. Since I want to be cremated, maybe even a roast…where loved one can share funny stories.

    Good blog! Enjoyed reading the responses.

  8. roseinbloom

    Good blog and good comments. Cappuccino, yours is the most original. I may like to be a garden gnome, Or have my ashes made into a burial stone, but I don’t think that is legal, but who is to know. Emnora, your idea of getting the last laugh is a good one and also very original. Linda, hopefully, we never get our work done, but we don’t want to live without work either.
    I have one thought that religious people seem to have as much fear as the rest of us, even if they say they are going to heaven. I do fear death and therefore I do not do risky behaviors. I also fear pain, or the long debilitated state.
    We all fear death, so if you think you don’t why do you avoid dying and run for your medical interventions. I am sorry if I contradict some. I think most of you are saying that you have a reasonable level of fear.
    I have been in 2 situations when I thought I was going to die and there was no fear. In one a felt a quick moment of sadness and then I was okay. The first time I was tumbling down the stairs and I only wanted the pain to stop. I hope this reassures some, it comforts me a lot.The other time, I thought I was having a stroke, but I wasn’t. I need to get my affairs in better shape. I fear that also.
    Emnora, I am sorry that you are facing death, but we all are, and it gets more imminent with age.

    1. nmod

      I’m sorry Rose ,but not fearing death doesn’t mean we want to die .
      It’s not use to fear death ,because it will come to all of us regardless !
      I’ve learnt a long time ago …that when it comes to death , we don’t have much of a say really , when time is up ,it’s up ,as simple as that !
      I’ve also learnt that ” acceptance of death as a part of life make us free ,to live ” .

      1. roseinbloom

        nmod. you are correct in all that you say, but I don’t like the unpredictability of it all. I could go tomorrow, or it could be 20 or 30 years. I know I need to get busy, but also I need some leisure time. Geez. It is just so inconvenient.

        1. nmod

          Lol Rose , isn’t it better not to know when the time comes ?
          Don’t tell me you would prefer to plan for your death as well as your funeral !
          Death it’s not totally unpredictable , we know is going to happen ,so live each day as best as you can ,because we don’t know if there’s going to be a tomorrow 🙂

  9. roseinbloom

    I also agree with the statements made by everyone and they are probably valid. Georgia, you made a good point that when death is closer the fear may come, but also, the opposite can be true. I thought I had metastatic cancer for about 24 hours, and then I had to wait about 2 weeks to have surgery to be certain that I did not have cancer, but I had no fear. I am very surprised myself, and I also heard a couple of others saying the same thing. People react in a variety of ways, and none of us can be sure until we are in the situation. I do know that I want all the medicine that it takes to manage my fear, anxiety and pain. For sure. I favor our laws changing, or maybe we all need to move to a place with laws that are more reasonable to us.

    1. zero Post author

      Congratulations rose, you tell it like you see it honestly. I have been around dying people enough to know that despite the light hearted banter when it comes down to the actual dying they are not prepared and are afraid. Those in actual agony and the prepared ones usually have the easiest time. Even then, there are exceptions. I have no answers only observations. Thank you for your comments.

  10. tessa

    I’ll be hoping for a comatose or unconscious state before I actually die. It looked so easy to just slowly stop breathing and then simply stop. Barring that, instantaneous death would be fine, via head trauma, etc. No time to worry or care, just poof…gone.

    1. roseinbloom

      tessa, I hope we get better laws in this state that provide for enough medication when they are needed. If not, I hope I don’t have to travel to another state which are all a long distance from me.