Recently my grandfather, to whom I was very close, passed away. Tomorrow I shall attend the burial with the rest of my family. Death and dying tend to be one of the great fears of our society. I happened to be present during his last breaths which were relatively peaceful. Whether this was drug induced due to the amount of morphine he received courtesy of hospice, I am not certain.
The fact is, at ninety-six years old with an aggressive stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that had turned into leukemia, he was going to die fairly soon no matter how it went. It is better in my mind that he died without being in too much pain.
Given that 80% of medical expenses that the average person incurs over their lifetime tends to occur within the last couple of months of their life, it would seem that more than 20% of the population probably has a substantial fear of dying. Given that same statistic, to flip it around slightly, I wonder how many people who are afraid of dying have truly lived. My grandfather had a rich and full life. He happened to live to 96, was a businessman, an entrepreneur, a lover of arts, an accomplished violinist, a husband to three different women during his lifetime, and engaged in various civic committees. In short, he was a man who lived a full life. People who are afraid of dying make me wonder if they are afraid of death as much as they are afraid of the recognition that though they existed that they did not truly choose to live.
Perhaps this was because of television viewing habits or some other form of experiencing life vicariously rather than directly. There are 168 hours in a week and if we work 40 of them and sleep 56 of them, there is still a lot of life to be lived. How many of us choose to live it? How many of us are purposeful about the time we have to spend doing the things we want to do? How often do we seek the company of those we want to be around?