So today is the first topic in our Online Death Cafe.
What would be the worst way to die? I thought of a bunch of different answers:
1) Alone: Many people feel that dying alone would be horrible. I’m reminded of a friend whose family had surrounded his grandfather in the hospital in his last few hours. They were all around him constantly. At one point they all decided to leave the room to go get a coffee and when they did, upon their return, they discovered that he had died. So at times, people indeed do want to be alone when they die.
2) Without Making Amends: Don’t we all have those things that we want to “correct?” Or at the least, apologize for? Well, there’s no time like the present for that. As scripture says, “You do not know the day, nor the hour.” So perhaps there is less of a reason to fear this than there is than we think if we begin to make amends consistently in life. Following some basic principles like: “Don’t go to bed mad” Or “settle the argument before leaving” are good starts.
3) Murder: Dying at the hands of another is awful and there’s a sense of not having control over your own death. I often say that murder is rare, which is why it is a news story–so the likelihood of us being murdered is not high, but needless to say, murder is never expected. I would say this is a legitimate fear, but not worth the energy of worry.
4) Unexpectedly: Slipping in the bathtub, car accidents, skiing, or in a bombing or terrorist attack…all are ways that nobody expects to die. These deaths are often more painful for the survivors who feel robbed of a family or friend.
5) At all! Let’s face it none of us wants to die! But it is the only thing that we are assured of. One of the 3 basic questions we all ask is “What will happen when I die?” And perhaps therein our faith gives us some comfort. Do we really believe that God can make all things new and forgive us of our wrongdoing and overcome all our weaknesses and unite us with the divine? Or is there something that prevents us from embracing that idea? Most people don’t think they will go to heaven and most don’t think they deserve hell. Purgatory seems probable for most. But even with that humble thought, we forget that if we make it to purgatory, heaven is still assured for us. Some still find it impossible that they could ever be a saint, which by definition means someone who is in heaven with God.
Perhaps in thinking about death we need to think more of how God defeats death and not how we are defeated by it? In doing so, we might find a bit more comfort in thinking about our last days on earth.
What thoughts might you have?