Maybe it’s considering what actions to take in light of a global pandemic, a risk unlike any I have ever known and a risk that is constantly changing as we learn more about the potential consequences and as infection rates climb.
Or maybe it’s because I spend my days counseling community members to assist them in making and documenting decisions for their incapacity and death as an estate planning attorney.
Or perhaps it is just part of life. But for whatever reason, I have been pondering my relationship with death lately, and more specifically what it means to me and how much fear I have surrounding it.
When I was 18 years old, I set out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, for the most part on my own. Despite family members’ fears about my venture, I had little fear myself. This was something I had dreamed about since I was a small child, my young brain decided it must seize the moment before it slipped away, and I would have rather died trying than not tried at all out of fear.
I also had a young brain that reacted to things differently than it does today. I don’t think what I was doing was actually very dangerous, but I did things at that period in my life that I would not do today. I hitchhiked regularly while on the trail. I slept alone on the trail in rattlesnake and then bear country. I didn’t have a bear canister and used to put my food right near me in a single bag so that the bear could grab just the food and head off.
As I age, I have been frustrated at what feels like a loss of adventure. I am frustrated to have lost some carefreeness. I think fear plays a bigger role.
But if we step back; what are we really afraid of? Is death that bad? Isn’t it the last resort?
I don’t mean this in a suicidal way, but simply a question – do we put our fear in the correct context? Do we allow ourselves the leeway to live, or do we let fear of death to get out of proportion?
Perhaps when things seem really bad, it could help to just consider the alternative – death – and maybe that isn’t so scary.
[This has nothing to do with purposefully ending your life. If you are feeling this, please reach out to get help. Call 1-800-273-8255 if you are feeling uncertain about wanting to live! Please!]