Health Is Social

Infusing Social Media into Healthcare

The Fear of Dying with a Laugh

We’re all afraid of dying. It’s a fear which makes us human.

Our culture has programmed us to think and feel about death in certain ways. It’s a culture that denies death, that views it as a “bad”.

Indeed, death can be terrifying and heartbreaking. When a child dies, we all die – some things can’t be soothed.

And yet, there comes a time for us to die.

But our culture tells us to take it very seriously. You can’t laugh at – or with – death!

Our culture tells us death can’t be fun. It’s serious!

In fact, the programming is so strong, I bet you think I’m mad for even questioning whether death could be “fun”!

So here’s a simple question: if presented with the choice between dying in pain or with a laugh, which would you choose?

Granted, it’s not a choice many of us will likely be offered.

But we can un-program ourselves from the unhealthy cultural attitudes about death.

Death is a teacher. Death is a reminder. Death says: here, take this moment and laugh – this will all be over one day.

In thinking about how our culture treats our “elderly” friends, it breaks my heart to think so many are mistreated in their final years and days and minutes. This, in my judgement, is largely due to our culture’s misunderstanding of death.

There has become a pervasive compulsion in our culture to unduly wish-away natural processes and replace them with unrealistic expectations.

It’s understandable for adult children to see their mother or father – full of days – dislocate from this world. But so many today live in such programmed fear of death, that they may not be paying attention to all the other emotions involved in fully loving someone.

When thinking about your life – what you want to do, where you want to go – start at death and work backwards.

Go to the imagined end of your life and look back:

what do you see?

did you laugh too much?

were all those big deals really that big?

what did you do with the gift entrusted to you at the beginning?

There’s still time to grab that gift, my friend.

Open it. Inside is a a little message that reads: You will die faster than you know – hurry now and practice laughter.

@PhilBaumann@HealthIsSocialRescuing the Dead

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