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  • Writer's pictureBryan Jun

thoughts I have on death

Perhaps not the most ideal blog post title to wake up to, but it'd be a gross understatement to say that the unbelievable events that have swept our world for the past year and a half has "heightened" our awareness of death, and in turn what it means to be alive. This may eliminate the entire purpose of this post, but as a Christian I believe in eternal life post a worldly death in heaven so technically one could argue the things I'm about to say "goes against" my world views. However, as someone who also believes that the life we are given here is also on purpose, I think it's important to keep in mind and reflect on the one thing we know for a fact (and probably the only thing we know for sure) - that we all will hit the ground at one point in the future.

Given the groundwork stated above of my world views, it probably isn't surprising that I'm not really scared of death itself, never was and probably never will be. As a child (and even now) I've obviously feared the various ways people have died and have many innate fears of rather possible methods like drowning and the unlikely case of a meteor hitting Earth. However, I don't think I've ever been fearful of the concept of my life ending, and while I'm very satisfied with my life currently and have never been suicidal, I have no dying desire to not die at any given moment. This is important to address given that I've met a fair share of individuals who are very in tune with the concept of death and constantly living in fear that their lives may end sooner than expected or before they have accomplished all they want to do here. On this aspect as well as in relation to the global pandemic at large, I've also never really been scared of illness. This is probably best explained in two folds, one being that I've never really been sick in my life (I can thank genetics, living conditions and my own lifestyle for this) and the other being driven by the reality that most of the illness in my family (diabetes and dementia) are typically walls that you hit later in life. I'm sure as I continue to age and I start to forget things or have to intentionally not eat sugar (I don't really enjoy sweet things), my thoughts on this will change. Regardless, as of now, I have no fear of death itself will I resent the world or God if I died today.

I do think more about the death of others, especially as I lack experience in dealing with such events. I've only been to two funerals in my life, both being results of freak accidents and commemorating people I was not intensely close to. This is also a result of my own circumstances, given that most of my family is young and of good health (my parents had me young and their parents had them pretty young, which makes most of my extended family relatively young) and I grew up in the safest city in America. It is inevitable, however, that I will reach an age where there will be waves of death in the generations before me as most people experience as they enter their "real adulthood." As many of those I care about deeply share my faith in the Lord, I don't think I have any existential scares about their potential death as I firmly know that they will be in Heaven, but as a human being it is hard to completely compartmentalize the end of their life in that way. It's almost so that because the potential death of those I care about is not something constantly on my mind that it makes the topic more severe, as we tend to grasp on to topics not of mind with more severity. I've never really gone down the slippery slope thought experiment of how my life would be or how I would react short term and long term if specific members of my life passed, mostly because there was never anything warranting such thoughts but also probably because it'd be hard to escape that thought path once I go down it. I do think that potential death or "there will come a time when he/she is gone and you'll regret not spending time with them" is not the best motivator for prioritizing individuals as that encourages you to engage in obligatory behavior as opposed to because you want to. On a more realistic and less romantic note, it is probably wiser to spend time with your grandparents during Thanksgiving rather than go on that ski trip with the college friends you could care less about, but doing so because "they may die soon" might not help you swallow Turkey that Thursday evening.

As a highly egoistic and self-centered person, I also ponder a lot about how my own death would affect others and I'm certain, like many of you similar to me, I have thought about my own funeral and wish that I could somehow stream it live in heaven. Who wouldn't want to see who comes to pay their respects, who cries the most, who surprisingly doesn't show up and who doesn't seem as sad as you expect them to be? It's a strange thought that the one event, maybe aside from your first birthday party or your wedding, that is solely focused on you in your life is the one you can't attend with no exceptions. A very dark and rather interesting experiment (or business idea depending on how cynical you are) would be to hold a funeral before you're dead in exchange for being able to watch it from afar and live as you are indeed dead for the rest of your life. I guess depending on how that event goes and judging the various facial expressions and attendance of your theoretical "list," your remaining days may be even more regretful than it would've been otherwise.

Other remaining thoughts that don't pertain to personal death could make me sound rather detached from life, but I think I'm quite insightful so might as well - I'm always shocked that death rates globally are not higher. Given that ~8 billion people inhabit this earth, all of which (somewhat) behave according to their own will, sharing this earth now not only with animals and machines all paired with natural disasters and just overall encompassed with the idea that we're simply a result of 5 billion years of chance (if you believe our ancestors are prokaryotes and we become dirt at the end of the day), it's quite shocking death rates are so low. Of course we've made significant progress in medical science, continue to make strides in driving safety, and I'd like to believe that people are somewhat becoming smarter as time passes by (although the number of people that die from getting stuck in vending machines continue to be rather high), which may all explain current trends for death. We are hyper aware of unique instances of death and popularized cases of death (anyone remember the last time a COVID-induced death wasn't in the news? I wonder how we'd feel if every single cancer or heart attack death was reported by CNN and Google had a daily tracker at the county level) to which we often forget that as fragile human beings who all somehow believe in invincibility and act accordingly, we don't die nearly as much as we should or use to.

I hope I didn't put anyone in a somber mood or go down a thought spiral about their own unavoidable death, nor was this post to signal anything about how I'm thinking about my own life. Go spend time with your grandparents today if you haven't in awhile.

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