Why Is Death Scary?
“Why is death scary?” I caught myself thinking the other day. Then ending up taking a pen and writing down some notes…
Concept of Death
Since the beginning of ‘3 Years to Live – Can I Fail’ campaign I started getting interesting conversations with people around (friends, relatives, social, etc.) It would usually start with a question, “What do you do nowadays?”
To some I would answer by saying something along the lines, “Ah, doing things there and there, waiting for a summer to come, got some plans to travel…” Nothing else could I share, as these would be type of people you just know wouldn’t get a point of what I’m talking about.
With others, on another hand, I’d would be straight up, “I’m on a challenge to live the next 3 years as if my last. It’s a social project too.” Then watch some people to get inspired by this idea. While some others to go silent or quickly change the subject.
At first I could not figure out, what the heck is happening, and why this latter reaction (go silent or change of a subject). It was not until a conversation that I had with one lady at kids birthday party, about the same, when I finally understood the cause of an issue.
Talking about the concept of death makes people feel uncomfortable!
“You gonna manifest this stuff, if you keep thinking about it… no?”, quietly, almost superstitiously the lady replied.
Hm. Made me think. Deeply.
Well, here is a thing: I don’t know!
Yes, I strongly believe in mind-power, Law of Attraction and manifestation. Absolutely. Yet, is this what I’m currently doing (attracting Z-End) by raising my own awareness on a daily basis?
Truthfully, I don’t think so. Simply because it’s not that I’m sitting here thinking about death all the time! But let me get back to this in a minute.
Why Is Death Scary?
That’s a freakin’ good question. If you reach out to 3 different people:
- a 5 years old kiddo, who never faced death,
- a professional BASE jumper, who was living with death for few decades,
- someone who is actually lying on a deathbed…
…and ask, “IS death scary at all?“, I’m sure you’d get very different answers from each one of them.
Maybe better way of looking at it is by turning this question back into yourself, by asking, “Is death scary to me?“
And if the answer is yes, I’d then go ahead and rephrase it to, “Why is death scary to me?“
Now, I’m not a qualified psychologist to help guide on this deep topic, nor that I’m going to pretend being one (while anyone can do research online, change some words and claim the title, to play such ‘expert’ just isn’t a purpose of this article).
My common sense says that most of us fear death because it is related to some sad, painful experience from a past (loss of a dear one). Too, ‘death’ is a mysterious topic, and many of us just do not like to get in touch with the ‘unknown’ (which, as a matter of fact, is one of our greatest fears by itself).
In addition, news & media are full of negative events related to death – wars, killings, suicides, and so on. Surely, after getting exposed to few such stories, a picture about death created in our mind can be pretty ugly. And scary.
Yet, on another hand, there are also cultures who celebrate death with songs and dances. Even in a western world there are more and more people now who want their funeral to be seen as a “happy celebration of life”, rather than a mournful event.
So, in a simplest form – how we perceive death is nothing but interpretation of our own minds. To someone it’s scary. To another one it’s joyful. And to a third one it brings no emotions at all.
Basically, a picture created in our mind around this subject is based on nothing but our personal experiences, beliefs and individual views. Would you agree?
Moving on, here is the next point that comes to mind.
Should We Be Afraid of Death?
In my humble opinion – yes & no.
‘Yes’ because fear of death also functions as a survival mechanism. A natural instinct which was sitting in us since stone-ages, all the way through wild-west days, until today. Without this fear we’d probably end up jumping under a car the first time we cross a street! So that’s a positive side of it.
‘No’ because ‘unhealthy’ fear of anything can grow into phobias and greatly affect our day-to-day lives. While this may be beneficial for mental health industry (more work!), somehow I cannot see how developing a phobia could be valuable to anyone else.
I personally would choose to be standing somewhere in a middle. Closer to the ‘no’ but not too far out so that I can also keep myself alive.
And while we at it…
…when it comes to talking about death, what would be a point to get phobic about something that is inevitable to happen anyway? Sooner or later, one way or another?
Facts & Stats
Let me ask, are you aware that, statistically, over 150,000 people die each day? That’s over 100 people to die each minute…
As an example, if it takes 10 minutes to read through this article, by the time you finish it, there will be over 1,000 people, somewhere in the world, to have departed from this life.
Wars, accidents, illnesses, old age… various reasons. Now that is scary, isn’t it? I thought so too, when I first found out (not so long ago, actually). In fact, I was shocked.
I wonder now, finding out about these stats, should it make us feel phobic about death?
Or maybe (hopefully) learning about it, somehow, should rings a bell? And, perhaps, helps view life from a different perspective?
Concept of Death – Different Perspective?
Here is what I mean.
Think about it: why would you believe, with certainty, that you will go out to work tomorrow morning, and will come back home later in the evening?
What makes you think that one single number from those stats tomorrow isn’t going to be you, but someone-somewhere else?
“Death? No no, isn’t happening to me so soon… Why? Well… hmm… uh… well, isn’t going to happen to me, and that’s it! Why you bringing this up anyway? Are you crazy??”
As if it cannot get any crazier than denying the facts of life, and our given reality itself…
Over 150,000 people, on the average, die every single day… Do you think many from that big-red number knew that it was going to be their last day? I’d sincerely doubt so…
Which brings me to the next question.
Do I have a written guarantee that today is not going to be my last?
Maybe not the most lightful question to be asking myself, but the reality is – I haven’t got such guarantee.
Neither you. No one has.
Death will come, knocking at our door, without fail. You know it will. I know it will. Could happen any time.
Yet, for some very strange reasons we choose to act as if it isn’t going to touch us. Or that we have 100, even 1,000 years left to live.
It takes no brain to figure out – we cannot change what’s coming. Nor that we can do much about it. Yet, while we here, alive and kicking, can we play this fact at our advantage?
Instead of locking ourselves into the denial-mode, or getting ‘scared to death’ to even think about it, can we at least try and see it from a different perspective?
Death as Source of Inspiration
Did you know that most people who are presented with an opportunity to reflect on their life at a deathbed, would regret a life they had?
Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives, had written an interesting book called Top 5 Regrets of the Dying. She pointed out these most common regrets that would come up again and again.
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
I do recommend studying these 5 deeply. Should your last day be today, how would you rate yourself on each regret?
Here is how you can do this.
Use a rating 1 to 10, where 0 is ‘I’m not avoiding this regret at all’ and 10 is ‘I’m not to have this regret at all’
Then add your results into Excel to get the average score, and insert the Radar chart to make it more visual. You should now have a clearer picture where do you stand today.
Below is a chart from my first ever Reality Check I performed in October 2016.
My average score here came up at 30%. Which meant:
Should my last day was on that day, I’d had 70% chance to have these regrets!
Now that was one scary experience… But also a great kick in a butt, to take serious actions towards the upcoming tomorrow’s.
Here is another study which was pointed by Prince Ea. He put it out this way:
“100 elders, close to their death, were asked what is their life’s biggest regret. Nearly all of them said they regretted not the things they did, but the things they didn’t do. The risks they never took. The dreams they didn’t pursue.
It is not death people are afraid of. It is getting to the end of life, only to realize – that you never truly lived.“
Hm. Interesting, isn’t it?
What are your thoughts, when running through these facts?
Is there a feeling in your body, maybe saying, “Heck, I need to do something about this thing I call ‘my life’!”
Do you see how fear of death could be turned into inspiration to move yourself forward?
If you seek for something else to motivate you, I highly recommend watching a short video below.
This truly is the most meaningful speech I’ve ever came across on a subject. As shared by Robin Sharma.
Is there anything more to add? Please…
Making a Choice
So what is a choice, after all? To be afraid? Very afraid? Or view the concept of death from a different perspective. And USE it as a source of inspiration?
To live your life today, as if there is no tomorrow.
Laugh more. Be more. Do more. Give more. Love more.
Worry and stress, less. Fight and argue, less. Chase meaningless stuff, less. Waste time, less.
Could now be THAT time to stop, think, and re-evaluate?
To ask yourself, “IF this day were my very last, would I regret my life? Would I too have to face the top 5 regrets of the dying?”
To dig even deeper…
What am I really about? What are my values? My passions? Talents?
What excites me the most? How can I do more of it?
Who is so important to me, that I could not be without, on my last given day? Especially on this day…
We all gonna die, no doubt about it. The only question is – when.
And while we may not need to know this answer today, I believe it is still crucially important for us to be clear on where we’re going. Because wherever we are heading to, we are sure to get there.
Our destination is hidden in a journey of in-between.
What choices am I making in my life today? Guiding me… do I even know where, to?
Not here to pretend ‘clever’. I’m bringing it all up only because these are the same question I had to ask myself when started on Can I Fail journey. Getting clear about current reality first. And taking massive actions towards different tomorrow, right away.
Then witness a whooping 60% improvement to Wheel of My Life.
After 3 short months.
A very reason why I’m talking to you through a medium of these lines is because I made that choice back in October 2016. This choice was what guided me, all the way to this day.
‘3 Years to Live’ Challenge
“You have left only 3 years to live, what you gonna do?”
Those words did not come from someone else, or a doctor. I have neither a terminal illness nor a wish to die. I’ve said them to myself, after hitting a personal-low in 2016. The ‘down moments’ I’m sure we all have to face.
Lifetime challenges. To come hitting us hard. To take away what we believed is so important to us. Then turn around, and give something else, back in return…
A day when sun comes out. It always comes, soon after deep-down times are over. It brings in light. And warms us up. Just like a spring comes, after cold-dark winter. To give directions, anew, for future ahead…
A day we’ll always to remember! The one to change our life, forever.
When ‘down’ no longer could go any lower, such bright moment shined on me as well. It came through a single question:
“What IF I was told I had… limited time, left in me? 3 years only… How would I go about my days, from here?”
The more I came to think about it, the more my curiosity increased.
“What would I do? What would I not do? HOW would I make my choices count?”
As a result, Can I Fail campaign was born.
To lead into a lifestyle of unexpected-new. To push one-self through failures of a past. To step outside the comforts of today. And live next 3 years, as if the last.
Life is an interesting thing, for sure… You never know what it will bring up next! But here I am. And you are here, for some reasons, too.
Coincidence? Who knows…
But if you came that far, and while we at it, let me quickly share what “3 years to live’ mentality did to me.
And what it could do to you.
‘Time Is Limited’ Experience
First, let me be clear – when you put yourself on mission to live a life with added urgency, it’s not like you end up sitting on a couch and thinking all day long, “Oh my god, I’ll be dead soon.” Such was a first impression of that lady in kids party, but it’s just not how it works.
See, when you set your mindset on ‘time is limited’ (which is a correct statement anyway, in any case), you start approaching your life very different. No longer you will want to waste your days on meaningless stuff!
Reading negative news, gossiping about other people, spending time watching TV, playing computer games… you wouldn’t be able to even think about these anymore, forget about giving your time to it.
As soon as limitation and urgency are added to your given days, and the number is fixed, life turns, almost instantly, into:
“Enough is enough. Let’s get real. Now, or never. WHAT is the other choice?”
From my experience, what happens when you apply a ‘3 years to live’ mentality (or whatever number you’d come up with), is that you start asking yourself all those important questions, it felt, I should have been asking myself like… decades ago.
“Who am I? What is really important to me? What is not…”
You end up:
- Taking on a task of understanding your current reality better.
- Putting yourself through a Self-Discovery stage.
- Developing meaningful Bucket List.
- Defining the people in your life (who is who?)
- Making attempts to reconnect with long lost friends.
- Watching your time like a hawk – am I spending it on activities that excites me the most?
Clarity comes to your must’s in life, like I have never experienced before.
To me a question of ‘why is death scary” no longer is a valid question.
“Time is limited’ mentality acted as inspiration to take massive action towards creating life of Purpose, Wealth & Peace. For myself, and the others. The enlightening way.
It wiped out virtually just about everything else to stand in a way. Pointless self-doubts and fears disappeared.
3 years. 1 chance. WHAT is the other choice?
Do you think, if such news would hit, you’d be able to sit and do nothing? Cry out, waiting for a day? Somehow I doubt it very much. For first few days, a couple weeks maybe… then?
Time is ticking, very loud now. Impossible to ignore. Then a day comes, when sun shines-out. To say ‘hello’. You hear it, this time around. Finally, you listen to it too. Warm feeling inside your chest. And a wish, long-forgotten, to keep on moving, to experience your life as never before, is reborn.
Once I figured who I am and what I want, the main focus turned into designing a lifestyle, so inspiring and fulfilling, that even IF something is to happen in 3 years, I could go with no regrets. With smile on a face. And a sense of deep peace in my body.
Whatever is left in me – 3 years, more or less – no one knows. Will I achieve everything (I feel) I came here to experience, and what I carefully planned for? This too is not known to anyone.
But one thing I’m sure of – if I can create the Inspiring Lifestyle of an Ideal Day, and live it through every given day, in the end, I will be able to stand up tall and say, ‘Mission accomplished’.
Not expecting things to be easy. It’s a lifetime challenge, after all. There will be sacrifices to be made. Days and weeks to be spend alone, working on this mission. Making mistakes, failing, falling down. Then getting up again, and keep on moving.
Time IS limited, what is the other choice?
Try adopting this mentality, and see what it will do to you.
We Don’t Have 100 Years to Live
You saw me repeating this over and over again. I’ve also shared the statistics, studies and inspirational materials. If your ways of thinking are not used to any it, you may even be feeling resistance somewhere in your body. I would not be surprised.
Am I pushing too hard? Is your mind rejecting this harsh reality? Or are you wondering around?
Do you still allow that question, “Why is death scary?” keep playing with your brain? Or maybe you’re now inspired, ready for the next?
Have you got a picture to what would make you say, “My mission is accomplished!” at the end of your final days? Or have you achieved it all already? If not… what are you waiting for?
Time is limited, indeed. We really don’t have 100 years left to live. I could fool myself believing into something else, just for how long? Until I can no longer walk? Go to toilet, have a bath on my own?
I had an opportunity to look after my 92-years old grandpa, during his final weeks at home, before him being taken to ICU (intensive care unit). Grandpa was a true fighter, a hero to my young eyes. “Screw this. I have to fight. And not give up” he said to death. And go on winning every time.
Was watching him with admiration. So strong! And for so long. Kept on surprising all of us, even doctors.
Yet, for how long can we cheat the nature? Death? As strong as grandpa was, his time too, had come. Never he had a chance to return from hospital… Another life had ended there, amongst with many others.
You may have not had the opportunity to think about it through. Deeply, and with a courage. To get you moving, to inspire. That’s fine! Please, do read the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying book, explore some other sources! These are special stories, waiting to be heard.
To touch your soul. And help wake up.
Bringing It to the Landing
When started writing this article, I wasn’t sure what it will be about. I still may not be sure, even now. But reviewing the contents, 5 days and over 3,500 words later, I feel there is just one more thing I would like to add:
If you managed to get all the way down to this paragraph, I hope there is something new you learned. Maybe a realization that ‘time is limited’, indeed, came creeping on your mind as well.
Not to scare the hell away, or be afraid. But to inspire.
To look at death from a (very) different perspective. To move towards taking actions, massive! Completing mission of your lifetime. And lead into your highest-You.
And if not already on a journey, to help you Grow, to Give, to Live.
Through every given day.
Because… we do deserve, the best of it.
On that note, I’d like to finish this topic with a Chinese proverb, which I think sums up nicely, everything we discussed.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Couldn’t add anything more, even if I wanted to…
Wishing you all the best on the exciting journey, yours!
For any of your thoughts, it’s below…
Ideal Day Video
"Why is death scary?" I caught myself thinking the other day. Then ending up taking a pen and writing down some notes... Concept of Death Since the beginning of '3 Years to Live - Can I Fail' campaign I started getting interesting conversations with people around (friends, relatives, social, etc.) It would usually start with a question, "What do you do nowadays?" To some I would answer by saying something along the lines, "Ah, doing things there and there, waiting for a summer to come, got some plans to travel..." Nothing else could I share, as these would be type of people you just know wouldn't get a point of what I'm talking about. With others, on another hand, I'd would be straight up, "I'm on a challenge to live the next 3 years as if my last. It's a social project too." Then watch some people to get inspired by this idea. While some others to go silent or quickly change the subject. At first I could not figure out, what the heck is happening, and why this latter reaction (go silent or change of a subject). It was not until a conversation that I had with one lady at kids birthday party, about the same, when I finally understood the cause of an issue. Talking about the concept of death makes people feel uncomfortable! "You gonna manifest this stuff, if you keep thinking about it... no?", quietly, almost superstitiously the lady replied. Hm. Made me think. Deeply. Will I?.. Well, here is a thing: I don't know! Yes, I strongly believe in mind-power, Law of Attraction and manifestation. Absolutely. Yet, is this what I'm currently doing (attracting Z-End) by raising my own awareness on a daily basis? Truthfully, I don't think so. Simply because it's not that I'm sitting here thinking about death all the time! But let me get back to this in a minute. First... Why Is Death Scary? That's a freakin' good question. If you reach out to 3 different people: a 5 years old kiddo, who never faced death, a professional BASE jumper, who was living with death for few decades, someone who is actually lying on a deathbed... ...and ask, "IS death scary at all?", I'm sure you'd get very different answers from each one of them.