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  • Writer's pictureAisha Kerrigan

When We Die

I used to be afraid of dying but I don't think I am anymore. Unless we're talking about the instinctual feeling of avoiding death. I don't think anyone's truly unafraid of that no matter how woke or edgy they are. Or how many guided meditations they go through. No amount of reading up and educating oneself on the topic will remove that fear. We don't call it an instinct for nothing. The fear of death is there for a reason, it's meant to protect us. After all, no one sane seeks death for the thrill of it.

Most people are trying to prolong their life, to find the cure to terminal illnesses, to preserve their bodies in whatever crazy way possible so they can wake up in the year 5088 and witness those flying cars humanity's been dreaming of for decades. Suicide survivors claim feeling fear or regret after their attempt. Would those feelings be there if we weren't programmed to avoid death?

Discussions here are limitless and won't lead to one universal agreement. All I can do for you here is to talk about my own experience and hope it gives you some comfort, dear reader. So. Why am I no longer fearful of dying?

As cliche as it sounds, death is peaceful. When you've lost your battle to death and you're in between that panicking state of 'I have to cling onto life' and 'I don't want to die' that's when you should try to relax. Accept the loss, loosen the tension in your shoulders, and go with the flow. Maybe think of that guided meditation or woke Twitter posts. Just let go. It's fine, you're safe.

You might think 'but I didn't do all I've wanted in life' and that's okay, none of us will achieve every single thing we've put on our bucket list. That's just how life is. 'My family will be left behind, I don't want to break their hearts' you might've already broken them. Sorry to say, mate. We all do hurtful things whether we like to admit it or not. You might've unknowingly broken someone's spirits, leaving them unable to heal and you'll never know you've done that. 'I don't want to leave my loved ones behind', that's alright. Sure, they'll hurt for a bit but eventually, we all learn how to live with loss. Your family and friends will be fine. Human resilience is a remarkable thing. 'What if they follow in my footsteps and take their own life?' That means they won't hurt anymore. It's all good.

Dying isn't something we should fear. It's welcoming. It's like going on a rollercoaster. You'll be terrified at first but once you're going down the hill, you're free. Whether you're ready or not you've let go of it all and you're at peace. When I say peace I don't mean you're feeling blissful and joyful, I mean you're feeling nothing.

That sounds depressing, you might argue. Not really. Think of before you've started reading this piece, were you feeling something? Do you feel something when you're making your tea? Walking down the street? How about browsing the web because there's nothing better to do? That's the kind of peace I'm talking about. It's the senseless state of autopilot where you're aware of your surroundings but you're not feeling anything. Not even the previous worries you've had when you were desperately clinging onto the final frail strand that we call life. It's alright if you don't understand, I wouldn't too. It's one of those things you've got to experience first-hand to truly fathom.

Don’t be afraid of dying because you won’t know that's what's happening. One second you're frightened and panicking and then with a snap of fingers with a final blink it's all over. Now you're on emotionless autopilot in a black room with a strong urge to get somewhere. The black room sounds ominous but it's not. It's the place you were at before you let go of life, but with a black filter over it. It looks like it's night, it's soothing.

The paradox is that you'll feel like you're late and have to be somewhere as soon as possible but at the same time thinking you've got all the time in the world. You're not worried, you're not sad or angry, you know you have to be somewhere but you also know you have to take your time.

Like I've said it won't make sense if you don't experience it. But then you take that first step forward and like a toddler learning to walk you start walking too. One foot at a time, careful, hasteless. You'll know when you're not ready because then you'll stop and nothing is calling you anymore. No urgent feeling of having to be someplace. So, you decide to take one last look behind and you see a body on the floor. Confusion takes over. Who's that? They're not supposed to be there, this is your realm, not theirs. But you're not angry with their presence.

That's when you'll feel a new pull, the one that's taking you towards the body because you're not ready to leave yet. But you don't know that. You don't think, you just follow. Again, this is how you know you're not ready, but you won't worry about that during that moment. If it's really your time to leave then you won't get close enough to the body, you'll hover a fair distance away. You won't lean into the person just that tiny bit closer to get pulled inside it.

Then you'll open your eyes. As you come back to life the blinding light from the ceiling that'd normally make you squint now has no effect on you. But it will soon. Soon you'll become more aware of your surroundings, of your family kneeling above you and calling your name. Surprising how much happened during the few minutes that you were out. Give it time, you'll be able to move around soon enough.

Hopefully, when you lose your battle to death the second time you won't be as scared of it anymore. When it's actually your time, let go of the feeble strand that we call life, take your time in the black room and once you're ready, start walking. They're waiting for you.

Woman lying on the floor from having fainted

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