Birthdays are days to feel loved. And usually, at least for me, it's a day to reflect on life and it's progression. I'm 24, and that's pretty young by most standards. That said, it's a year more than 23, and it's 10 years older than 14. I am getting older. Every one is, and it makes you think about how fast life happens.
I've never been afraid of death and I didn't understand why people would be. It's a moment of pain and then that's it. It's not like dying (usually) takes a really long time. There are some injuries that are more painful than some deaths. But anymore I don't think that's what people mean by saying they're afraid of death. I think fear of death goes beyond the fear of pain involved with the finishing of life. I think it's the not existing that gets to people. No one cheats death forever, and while there is technology for so much now days, we still have not invented something that will give us eternal life on earth. It's the inevitability of the day that we will finish actively effecting the world. Even for religious people who have strong beliefs about the afterlife, there's no experiencing it before it happens. There are ideas and there are words in sacred texts and there are stories of people who are dead for moments but return, but those are so subjective. We can't put our hand through to death and bring it back and see what it looks like. And we can't reach our hand into death and pull out ones who have gone before us. There's no going and coming. There's only going. And there's no sending reports back to people. Our consciously effecting the world is finished.
Even if you are not a deep thinker, not very philosophical, not into morbidity.. You have thought about it. Everyone has.
One side comment. My sister died 7 years ago, and this does effect my view on the end of life as we know it. This is from a poem by John White Chadwick.
"More home-like feels the vast unkown,
Since they have entered there;
To follow them were not so hard,
Wherever they may fare."
The thought of death is easier when someone that you love a lot has passed through before you.
That said, it's still hard. And there's no way out of it but accept it. Cause living a life in constant fear of it's ending is no way to live. It's a life of constant death.
Living life as if there was always a tomorrow is no way to live either. Because then you get to the end and you're like, "Wait, what?! It's done?! I'm not ready!" How awful and devastating that thought is. I think the right balance is keeping in mind how old you are. Living so that your life is full whatever age you are: keeping your relationships strong, letting go of those relationships that are empty and not life-giving to either of you, being at peace with God, doing those things you love without fear. And also, living so that your future, your next year, will be better. Doing a bit of planning. Improving yourself, gaining experience that you can add on to the next year, and make your next 5 years more full.
The best thing would be to get to the end of your life, be on your death bed, and be able to say "Wow, what a life! I'm so tired! I'm ready to go. A full life that will keep effecting the world for years to come. Kids that will contribute positively to the world. People who will miss me and feel there is a hole in the world because I'm gone. A community that is changed. People who love God more because I affected their lives. Full." To be ready to let our life speak for itself without our bodies to speak for it. What I mean is, our lives will echo once we're gone, and to let that echoing start. To be ready...
I realize that this post is a bit of a downer, but that's life for you. There's a time to be very present in the moment and be lost in the activity around you, and there is a time to step back and be a bit more philosophical and check and make sure that in those moments of being present and engaged in the activities of the day that you're living out your philosophy of life that you develop when you're thinking your deeper thoughts.
I think to be ready for death also involves being at peace with God.
My faith is only legit BECAUSE I will die. It would be stupid to be a Christian if we lived forever.
"If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are all people most to be pitied."
"But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ."
I Corinthians 15
So yeah. Anyways regardless of religion we don't know exactly what it's going to be like over there. On the "other side". Such an image of crossing over, and the bridge only goes one way!
But I like the end of Chadwick's poem. It's honest about the fact that we know nothing about the next life, except one thing.
"They cannot be where God is not,
On any sea or shore."
I know nothing about what's next after death. Except that I will be with God. And whatever that looks like, whatever "sea or shore", He can worry about. I'm satisfied knowing wherever I will be, God will be there. Created meets Creator and never looks back.