Death Scares Me

I think about death sometimes. It freaks me out. Death scares me.

Pete Fornatale died yesterday. He was a disk jockey in New York. I knew him when I was 16 and he 21. He was on WFUV at Fordham University. I often hung at the radio station until I became enough of a pain in-the-ass they threw me out and banned me.

It was deserved.

Pete is one in a series of people whose lives have intersected with mine who have died recently. You know how this works? As you get older death becomes more of a regular thing. Most of these people had no idea the end was near.

Tomorrow I will speak to my 86 year old father who’ll tell me if I think they’re dying rapidly now, just wait!

I know people of faith. Religion makes death easier to take. There’s a promise of something beyond.

There are just too many things I still want to do. Places to go. Experiences.

They say you should live like there’s no tomorrow. Can’t be done.

33 thoughts on “Death Scares Me”

  1. I no longer fear death since losing my 15 year old son aprox. two months ago. I had the same fears, not doing all I want to do before I die, etc. But I know that my son waits for me in Heaven. When I die, I get to meet the Good Lord, and be reunited with my son again. When its my time, I accept death with open arms now. I cannot wait to see my son again, he took a piece of my heart with him…

  2. And I remember the 1980’s when friends of mine were dropping like flies. One week they’d complain of odd and minor problems, and within a few weeks to a few months they’d be dead.

    Funny about those “people of faith” though. They are, according to surveys, the ones who call for the most heroic measures to be kept alive, while it is apparently those without the belief in heaven who have the DNR orders or opt for hospice care.

    It is hard to live like there’s no tomorrow, but it is easier to look at every day as a gift. Which at this age, it is! We have already lived longer Geoff than most people throughout history could reasonably expect to.

  3. I think that I’m living my life just the way I want to live it so if I were to die tomorrow I’d have no regrets. And it’s just an ordinary life but I get to live it with my husband and son.
    I’m sometimes hesitant to open the newspaper the obits as I don’t know what I’ll find! Right now it’s not so much death but ailments of friends and family that indicate we’re getting old.

  4. I am a person of Faith, and I and a veteran geriatric nurse of 20 years. I have been around death a lot. Some people of faith, some not. As far as heroic measures, its never in my experience been those of faith or not, its been those of guilt. I’ve seen all the stages of death for those dying, and grief of those losing a loved one. Its always different, its always difficult, some more than others. I’ve seen and been by the side of those alone, and held their hand, and talked to them, told them finally its ok to let go, and they did. I don’t think death in general scares me, I don’t look forward to it in any way, neither for myself or a loved one of mine, but I will and am determined to be there if I can, and if I’m not, they will know I’ve cared for and loved them regarless. Some people are afraid of declaring their feelings, especially love. I am not. I embrace life, and respect death. I just hope I’m a part of either if I am supposed to be. Whether you believe in an afterlife or not, whether you feel you haven’t done all you want or you have no choice, I think its important to be happy every moment, try to get past fear, erase regrets however you can, and embrace everyday as a gift. Whether i die old and alone, or young and suddenly, i want every moment to count. Every encounter to be meaningful, every sunny day appreciated, along with every drop of rain. I believe there is more after death; I believe its up to us everyday to determine how that will be. I hope I have done well enough when its my turn, and I hope those I know and those I love know how they have been appreciated in my life.

  5. I hear you Geoff. I’m looking down the barrel of 40, and the thought that I will die someday is affecting me in a profound way. I have so many things I want to accomplish, and I have so little time to do them all.

    I agree, living like there is no tomorrow is not possible in a world that the mortgage/rent has to be paid every month and all the other things we must do as “responsible adults.” The balance I’m trying to live is living for today, but still planning to wake up tomorrow. Fear of failure and fear of change are the only things holding me back… and I’m over coming them. I believe that this existence is all we have. It would be a shame to be held back due to fear.

  6. Geoff, funny you should mention this. I’d say we’re fairly close to being contemporaries and I find myself thinking about this more these days, too. Mostly as older relatives pass and I say, “Hey, I’m getting to be the top of the pile now. Yikes!” I miss that comfort of my elders and the larger playing field of notables I used to have.

    And, yes, there IS so much to do, see, try in this old world. But we just have to make the best of each day, of what we’ve got, tolerate what we need to, savor the blessings, keep on plugging, and be useful to others. Scary tho’ knowing it, too, will end for us. But then again, what was it Woody Allen said in “Annie Hall”, “Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering – and it’s all over much too soon.”

    As a follower of Jesus Christ, I know that God has more in store for me than I can possibly imagine after this flickering candle snuffs out. Perhaps small comfort to some but in the scheme of eternity, this life is so fleeting and the future so worth looking forward to. The main thing is when it’s over, are YOU prepared for what follows?

    “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” Gospel of John, Chapter 1, vs 9-13

  7. I’m surprised at your comment Geoff…death is nothing to be afraid of, it is part of the cycle of life and unfortunately one of the things no one can help you with, death is something we must all face alone; with that being said obviously your faith isn’t helping prepare you for this passage. Since none of us knows when our time will come, it is a great idea to tell your loved ones how you feel about them on a daily basis and when you leave someone you love, hug them, kiss them and say good-bye as if you will never see them again. Even though you may have things you want to do and places to go etc., when God calls you, you have no choice…it is inevitable and again, nothing to fear.

  8. When I was a teen, I was gripped by a fear of death that was SO SEVERE, I was seeing a counselor! It wasn’t until I started reading the Gospel of John in the Bible, and came to understand the relationship and REASON God had a Son. In a nutshell, Jesus is our Advocate (think: Lawyer) before the Father, and speaks on our behalf. The ONLY “catch” is that we need to have a relationship… we have to know Him, and He needs to know us. The Gospel of John in the Bible spells it all out quite nicely! 🙂 Get “The Message” Bible, and read that… it’s more like a novel, and it’s easy to read and understand.

  9. A long time ago I had a conversation with a co-worker that was a minister about the “what if there is no afterlife
    ” and “going to church was sort of a cult” ….. he answered very simply, “If there is no aftrerlife if anything going to church made me a better person”. I still don’t believe in churches but his statement made ME a better person.

  10. I used to think about death a lot when I was younger. I worried I wouldn’t have the time to accomplish the life I wanted. I am more secure now in who I am and the path my life has taken. I try not to think about death now, but of my future and the future of my children and grandchildren

  11. Different spin on this for you:

    Pete played a set on WNEW 102.7 in the summer of 1974 that kept me from leaving the house for an appointment for 45 minutes. He was good at what he did, and although I regret his early passing, the mention of his name brings back great memories.

    I hope you also have good memories that will balance the sense of loss.

    I fully expect the same will happen to our friends and loved ones when we go, so don’t worry about it, but try to leave them all with some great memories and stories for the wake. I’m hoping mine will be a heck of a party…


  12. I liked reading all these messages. It is obvious that most of us think about death often, usually when someone we love dies, and we become aware of our own mortality. I am close to that point than most of you (73) but I am hoping I have my grandmother’s genes in me (she lived to 96) so I’m not going anywhere for a long time! It has only been the last 10-15 years that I have really felt I “knew” and truly liked who I am. I now think of every day as one I must live as fully as possible; wasting time is not good. And secondly, being as kind and helpful to others is so important. Therefore even if you have never done anything major in your life, you have actually helped save the world…one day and one person at a time.

  13. I liked reading all these messages. It is obvious that most of us think about death often, usually when someone we love dies, and we become aware of our own mortality. I am closer to that point than most of you (73) but I am hoping I have my grandmother’s genes in me (she lived to 96) so I’m not going anywhere for a long time! It has only been the last 10-15 years that I have really felt I “knew” and truly liked who I am. I now think of every day as one I must live as fully as possible; wasting time is not good. And secondly, being as kind and helpful to others is so important. Therefore even if you have never done anything major in your life, you have actually helped save the world…one day and one person at a time.

  14. Jesus said ” I am the way, the truth and the
    Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
    John 14:6. If this is true, and I believe it is, I would establish
    a relationship with Him asap by accepting Christ ad Lord and
    Saviour. Once you accept Christ into your life the fear of
    death is gone and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding
    guards your heart and mind.

  15. I see a lot of comments about following Jesus. This is wonderful, really, if you are Christian. I am, and it guides my life. But many are of no religion at all, others of religions other than Christianity. Geoff, for instance, is from a Jewish background. I’m not about to write him off. He has done so much for humanity, I am sure he, and other non-Christians, have a special place in heaven. See you there, Geoff….a Loooooong time from now! (Oh, and I don’t think I am the only Christian who sometimes has a fear of death anyhow, despite my faith. It’s human nature.)

  16. A dear friend of mine from the Midwest sent me emails this week 3x – each telling me of a close family member passing… 3 in a week… so when I read this blog today it was perfectly timed. Death bothers me as well, mine or someone else’s. I think it is the “unknown” factor plus it’s not something we have control over so to speak. The Bible offers us the peace with a Higher Source but it still is the unknown and uncontrollable aspect we must deal with… my dread is losing my spouse… but yes, Geoff, thanks for posting this and letting us all know we are NORMAL for having these fears and concerns.

  17. I know how you feel but it is not that bad to walk the tight rope. if it your time or my time there is nothing that can be done.The biggest thing that would aggrivate me is not seeing my kids succeed and be happy and yes grandkids. My wife is probably ready to kill me anyway,no just kidding we have known each other 32 years and married for 27.I suffered a heart atack at my home two years ago at 49, no warning no symptoms other than when it happened. I look at it as a miricle.Everything fell into place that night from the people who helped me to the doctor that saved me.I was home with my family so if it did happen it was with the people I love the most in life.I remember driving away from my house and thinking that I am not coming back, but I did two days later with a piece of hardware and a new outlook on life.I remember feeling like I was dying but I refused to give into it. The human spirit ia an amazing thing. The things that you may not get to are many, but the promise of so much more on the other side is the consolation,I hope there is.Dont worry about dying that is the easy part, it is the living that is hard.We all have a ticket to be punched at some time just hope it is not too soon. enjoy your life , your wife, your daughter and know the love they have for you will carry you forward through eternity until you see them again and you will.The morning I came home I looked at the sunrise and I was always up but never looked just took for granted that it was there like so many other things.It is really a sight to behold.Take a good looks some time buddy. Be well! sal.

  18. Someone much smarter than I said “I know there is no heaven but I pray there is no hell!”. What ever faith you have or don’t have remember that your death is only real after you are no longer remembered. While reading you post I thought about my grandfather who passed when I was 6. In my mind he is still with us! In a way he will be with us even longer as my son was named for him and was told the reason why. With all of the people you have touched you will “live” for a very very long time!

  19. I’m not looking forward to death. Why? I’d love to see what the world is like 50+ years from now. I don’t want to leave my son….I want to see how productive and wonderful his life will be….I had a heart attack and a double bypass about 1 1/2 years ago….it made me think about life. And my wanting to remain in it. 😀

  20. Death happens. No matter where you are or what you’re doing if it’s your time – you’re dead. If there is a God why would he let His children die and cause pain to those left behind?

  21. Just remember, Life, no one gets out alive in the end.
    until then, live your life the best you can.

    Sadly as we get older, we attend more funerals than weddings

  22. Try not to be scared Geoff! Death is just the final act of living. The thing to be afraid of is not letting you’re loved ones know your most intimate thoughts. I lost my wife 12 years ago to cancer and though I walked her right to eternity’s portal I did’nt get to say some things I wished I had. It still disturbs me to this day! I am a man of deep faith in jesus christ and this has helped me to cope.Having seen the human suffering,I immediately drafted an advanced directive after her passing.NO HEROIC EFFORTS TO KEEP ME GOING! They say you don’t die with dignity but instead you live with dignity. I diagree. Once you have made peace with the fact that you have to leave this world behind,and made your feelings known to those most important to you,then what could be more dignified than that if death stopped by tomorrow for a visit? God Bless!

  23. My last thought on the matter of death.

    “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘WOW What a Ride!’

  24. Not believing in God (any of them) is so liberating. It allows me to really savor every day with my friends and family without the cheat of a supernatural do-over to affect my behavior. The here and now is all we have- hoping for God to forestall that is just whistling past the graveyard.

  25. Wow! Not only am I concerned about my own death after dealing with my mom’s four years ago; but now I’m worried about how I’m going to pay for it! Medicare only pays for 3 months of nursing home care after the hospital discharges you there for rehab. After that you have to pay over 12,000 a month out of your own pocket. And when you run out of money, Medicaid doesn’t have to accept you and pay your nursing home bill. I hope our Obama Health Care addresses this issue of the costs leading up to one’s death if dementia is the root cause of one’s “failure to thrive.” And, my mom’s average funeral cost over $16,000. Luckily I had bought a tax-free Funeral Home policy six months before she suddenly died two weeks after a stent was placed in her leg to open up a blocked artery. As mom used to say, “It’s tough getting old!” Thanks to everyone who opened up on Geoff’s blog about death. My mom does visit me in my dreams to say that there is life after death, and that living is harder than dying.

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