Death – The Universal Part of Life

I’m sure we all at times ponder what it means to be alive, and what happens when we die. And if you’re anything like me, you get a bit anxious when you think about it. But what if death really isn’t as scary as we think!

“Breath eventually becomes air” Credit to G. Dawson via Flickr

Is there actually a light at the end of the tunnel?

For such a long time, death has been the greatest taboo of life, but we can never get away from the depressing fact – we are all going to die one day. For some, it may come sooner than others. We may have time to say our final goodbye, or we might be met with sudden news. But is this something we should be afraid of?

Thanatology is the study of dying and is mostly concerned with our understanding and psychological responses to the end of life. Many health professionals and educators study thanatology to have a better understanding of human mortality. This helps them comfort individuals who are facing death and their families.

Understanding the complexities of the human condition is no easy task. We have very funny ways of thinking about situations, especially those surrounding our own death. The “my death versus your death” concept is a peculiar way that we believe “your death” (in the third person) is certain, but for “my death” there is an exemption. In a weird way, it allows us to consider both our death and our ‘eternal life’; something that I personally and many others may find comforting.

Death is a spectrum, much like that of colour. Credit Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Life is short, death is forever

I often ponder what actually happens to us when we die. Is it that we become another being, or do we just cease to exist? The thought of not living is uncomfortable for us, because it is something that nobody has experienced; well, experienced and come back from the dead to document it.

Although nobody has come back from the dead, there are some individuals with a personal ‘near death experience’, associated with a looming passing. People often report a feeling of being out of one’s body, interacting with deceased loved ones and the Hollywood classic – “seeing a light”.

Scientists explain these events with a sudden surge of brain activity and huge surge of hormones released as the brain begins to die. These experiences are often “pleasant” and may be linked to some aspect of religious beliefs in the presence of and afterlife.

Naturally, many people within the ‘pseudoscience’ community have looked into the possibility of a life after life. Essentially, scientists adopted a ‘ghostbusters’ style approach to study hauntings, apparitions and communicate with the dead. Sadly, there has been little evidence to support this theory, but it has given rise to many great Hollywood blockbusters. I personally think it would be pretty cool to come back as a ghost!

Credit M. Accarino via Flickr

Maybe I will be the first immortal being!

I have always wanted to live to the grand age of 100, mostly so I can get that letter from the Queen of England! Once upon a time, this was such a bizarre concept. But as with many things in today’s age, it is rapidly becoming a reality.

Advances within medicine have made it possible for people with either a terminal or chronic illness to have longer lives. Of course, this has many benefits for these people and their families, but just because we can, does this mean that we should?

About 75% of an individual’s lifetime healthcare cost is spent in the last 6 months of their life, which in effect is money wasted. As we get older, it is more difficult to know at what point we should stop trying to intervene in nature’s course. Does this tell us that as a society, we don’t know when to give up and accept that we are going to die? Is it worth inflicting great suffering on some people in the way of medical treatments to let them live 6 more months?

I’m sorry, but I don’t have an answer.

Credit Elvin via Flickr

We are all bound by the same fate

There is some comfort in knowing that we are all bound by the same fate. Death doesn’t discriminate between individuals based on their ethnicity, wealth, education or beliefs.

Death is not the opposite of life but a part of it”.

16 Responses to “Death – The Universal Part of Life”

  1. Xavier says:

    Thanks Jaitika! I am glad that you enjoyed it!

  2. Jaitika says:

    Hey Xavier,

    This was such an interesting read, really got me reading and looking into it more. 🙂

    a wonderfully written post.

  3. Xavier says:

    Thank you Syafiqah! I am really glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Syafiqah Zulkefli says:

    This is a really interesting topic. I think there’s a very real fascination with death because it is just so unknown. I also think that perceptions of death between cultures can be extremely different. Lately I’ve come across a few videos of people attempting to change the western perspective of death as something to celebrate rather than fear. Thank you for writing on this topic. I do think that it is something we all need to talk about and confront. Good job.

  5. Xavier says:

    Thanks Will, its definitely an interesting topic!

  6. Will Long says:

    Wow! I never knew there was a ‘study of dying’. Maybe the inability to fully understand our mortality is hardwired into our brains.

  7. Xavier says:

    Thanks Emilia! Im glad you enjoyed it!

  8. Xavier says:

    Thanks Rob!
    It really is an interesting discussion, which should be encouraged among the profession. The way in which it is discussed is really unclear, but as you said, it comes down to an opportunity cost perspective.

  9. Rob McDonald says:

    Great piece of thought provoking writing.

    I truly do believe we as a society need to be braver in exploring the issue you raise re medical expenditure on the last months of life.

    With finite resources every dollar spent on health, I believe, needs to be viewed through the lens of opportunity cost – a dollar spent here means a dollar less spent there.

    If that money spent in the last 6 months of life was efficiently spent seeking to address the most crucial social determinants of health – what would our society look like – both from a health perspective and from an equity and fairness perspective?

    Could this be done with respect and compassion for those in their last months of life?

    Would be interested in your thoughts on this Xavier?

  10. emilia bisogni says:

    This topic can definitely be scary! Its nice to be able to look at it from a different view point. This was a great read!

  11. Xavier says:

    Thanks Kieran! 🙂

  12. Kieran Christopherson says:

    Really really nice Xavier. Awesome to read something philosophical with perfect bursts of science.

    I wrote a final paper for a capstone Ethics subject in my undergrad philosophy degree about death. I explored a link between western misconceptions and misunderstandings of dying with environmental degradation due to overpopulation. My tutor hated it, lolz, but I found the process really liberating. There is so much interesting literature on the subject.

    Thanks for putting yourself out there and offering this.

    Have a great weekend!

  13. Xavier says:

    Thanks Sarah! My pleasure 😁

  14. Sarah Parkin says:

    So interesting to think about! Thanks for taking the time to write this 🙂

  15. Xavier says:

    Thank you! I often to ponder the topic, that’s why I tried to explore it a bit. I hope you enjoyed it

  16. megany says:

    interesting perspective, the topic is so relevant and can be scary but i like the way you ended it with the idea of unity