Oct 04


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19. Death

The first death I can remember was also perhaps the purest. A kid at school was running on the athletics track and collapsed. In the second or two it took a teacher to reach him he had died. A brain haemmorhage, they told us the next day at Assembly: massive and instant.

Tragic, yes. Fearsome, no. There had been no foreknowledge of death, no pain – or a second of pain at most – it was as close as a death comes to being simply a human being ‘switching off’. Most of the time when I ‘fear death’ it’s the foreknowledge that’s frightening, or the pain, or the futile attempts at survival. The fact of death, the oblivion – that’s not scary, because it won’t be ‘happening’ to me, there won’t be a ‘me’ for things to happen to. The main emotion that comes to my mind when I think – infrequently – of my death (and this entry is solely about one’s own death) is regret for the things I won’t see happen.

But death deserves its place on this list. For one thing it’s so bound up with so many other fears – it’s the terminal fact behind fear of fairground rides or crocodiles or heights. For another this is a youngish man writing, with few responsibilities. The ‘fear of death’ has always been the fear of what happens next. Just as I’m worried that some crime report or social outrage will one day turn me Tory, I’m worried that one creeping day nearer to death will find me waking up religious, and then (I’d guess) the fear might really start biting. But even for the unbeliever there’s a fear born out of responsibility – that all the stories you’ve weaved yourself into (or helped start!) will go on without you, and might go wrong.


  1. 1
    holly on 10 Jun 2007 #

    hi tom thats sad what happened to that kid. I;m scared too die because I don’t want to lose my friends or family. Some people make fun of me because i am scared. I think that’s dumb. I’m also scared because i don’t want to have to hurt or suffer from it. It was nice to talk to someone who understands whats I’m talking about. Thanks.

  2. 2
    alex on 2 Jun 2008 #

    i know what you mean i would miss my mam and sisters if i died

  3. 3
    jessica bejar on 14 Jun 2010 #

    do u mind me asking when that happened to the kid?? in second grade that same exact thing happened to my friend.. we were all running in the gym and all of a sudden he just fell out of no where.. everyone thought he had tripped and the teacher even kinda yelled at him to get up.. very sad thing! and hard to go thru for me at such a young age.. ever sense i’ve always been so affraid of death. its my greatest fear because it can be as sudden as that! no chance to say good bye to the ones u love. i also just witnessed a man drowning yesterday so i guess death is a lil more on my mind than usual. i was watching a documentary about sky divers and this one man had done it for years and years and then this one jump that him and his friend were gonna do wasnt even a big one but he turned to his friend and hugged him and told him if anything happened that he loves him.. he’d NEVER done that before. it was almost as if he knew that he was going to die.. i wonder if thats the same for everyone.

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