My grandfather died two weeks ago, and as I think of him, mourn him, I can only think of mortality in general. My logical, practical, sensible self knows that no one lives forever- we all have to die. But I realized that even though I’m 32 years old, something deep inside me, something irrational and completely emotional has never accepted that. Something in my soul pushes that away, so much so that when I am confronted by death, I have extended periods of abject denial, followed by a series of anxiety attacks. These little episodes make me silently hysterical, make the tears flow- make me absolutely positive that I can’t lose anyone else. The other day, the thought of having to mourn my grandmother made me burst into tears. The thought of losing my mother gave me visions of rocking back and forth in a padded room- that’s how scared I was. And don’t even get me started on my last moment. The idea that I won’t be with the people I love, that I won’t get to see them, and talk to them makes my hands shake on this keyboard. But I have to get this out.
The other layer to this is that I am not an avid churchgoer. I believe in God, I try to be a good person, I pray as much as I can. But I’m not what you would call a typical Christian (whatever that means). The reason I bring that up is that people who identify themselves that way, go to church, and bring God into all their FB status updates- don’t seem to have any fear of death at all. Their faith is so strong that all they think of is the afterlife- the part where they live with God in heaven. Even Jehovah Witnesses have a calm about them- they don’t believe that you go to heaven- but they look forward to the resurrection. This leads me to question my faith, such as it is. Is my faith lacking because I have this fear? Is my lack of faith the reason that my fear is so strong? People have told me that my fear doesn’t signal a lack of faith on my part, but it seems logical that if my faith were stronger, I would be less afraid because I would be more sure of what happens after death. Right? And uncertainty is definitely a part of the fear
I’m honestly at a loss. I’ve never known anyone as afraid as I am. People talk all the time about their death- whether they want burial or cremation, what color casket they like, where they want their ashes spread- I don’t know any of that because I won’t even confront that. I can’t even begin to imagine being nonchalant about it. Maybe other people are able to keep the fear at bay because they think death is so far off; maybe they don’t worry because they know they can’t control it anyway. Maybe my fear comes from the fact that I won’t be able to control that moment. All I know is that right now, when death was just too weeks away, I can’t stop thinking about it. So along with being sad that I lost my grandpa, every morning I’m afraid of losing someone else… and every night I’m afraid when I lay down. It doesn’t help that my overly-analytical self tends to turn things over in my mind constantly until I make sense of it. This fear is crippling, and someone as self-sufficient as I am doesn’t like the idea of being crippled by anything. And to think, I thought that pesky fear of thunderstorms was bad.
I know what you’re going to say. Concentrate on living. Tell my family I love them. Make my dreams come true. Life is not about worrying over death. Make the most of every moment. Believe me, I’ll try. Meanwhile, I’ll have a prayer and couple glasses of wine. Good night.