We All Die in the End

Understanding death and life as two sides of the same coin.

Photo by Valentin Petkov on Unsplash

At a certain age in early life, we come to the basic understanding that everything alive must die. We come to realize that death is a part of our known reality and we slowly come to acknowledge its true meaning. We become more conscious of the fact that we need to live our lives in certain ways, careful to avoid death. In many societies like the one I grew up in, we are told that death should be resisted and rebuked at all costs; that the subject of death should never be brought up, and should forever remain far away from the ears of the living. Many people subscribe to this superstition that I can only describe as a superfluous imagination that at the mention of death, a human skeleton figure, dressed in black shroud and clutching a scythe would suddenly appear to collect the unmindful summoner’s soul.

Some say that death is only an easy escape for cowards, others dread death as the worst thing that could happen, and as such it is easier and better to keep living. Some others hold that it is unnatural to die.

Regardless of our convictions on the nature of death, it is obvious that death is inevitable, and as such no one will be able to escape its cold embrace. Although death comes to everything living, we humans, as an intelligent species, have developed a greater consciousness of death. Unlike other animals that are driven by basic instincts of survival, we have managed, by our greater understanding of death, to create a fear of death. Our awareness of death brings knowledge, and that knowledge creates fear. One that is very different from those programmed reflexes of fright, flight or fight, but at the same time equally, if not more effective. So much so that this fear is capable of subconsciously dictating to us what we can and cannot do in the course of our lives, and possibly hindering us from embracing life as it is. This fear may be a grand manifestation of our fear of the uncertainties that lie beyond death, our fears of the pain or anguish of dying, our fears of losing everything we hold dear to us in life, or most likely a combination of all of these.

I was always fascinated by the sheer beauty and diversity of the wild. Little wonder why one of my favorite channels on TV in my younger days was the famous Nat-Geo Wild. As I grew older and my understanding of life deepened, I came to draw some wisdom from these amazing creatures of the wild as I dared to imagine life through their eyes. I was awed by how a gazelle that barely just escaped being killed and eaten by a hungry cheetah would suddenly go back to happily galloping and grazing about, as if nothing happened. I was amazed to witness cheetah moms who had just lost two out of her three cubs move on with hunting for her next meal like it was all just a bad dream. I was equally bewildered to see seals shrug off almost being shredded and eaten by hungry sharks and dive back into the water minutes later. The list goes on.

In preparation for Christmas celebrations some years back, I bought a live chicken from the market that would later have the honor of gracing my dinner plate. As I watched it calmly live out the last moments of its life I thought disdainfully to myself, “imagine living, not knowing that you’re about to die”, and then it hit me, as if the chicken heard my thoughts and clapped back at me: “imagine a life lived, knowing fully well you’re to die eventually!” If these animals could think like us, they would imagine the sorrows that befall us under the burden of the knowledge of our impending but inevitable doom. Observing these scenarios painted above may reveal them as apt illustrations of the saying that “ignorance is bliss”, but does that indirectly imply that we live, by default, in misery by the knowledge of death?

Well yes and no, depending on how you look at it.

Although this knowledge can weigh down on us and make us ponder the essence of life, it also gives us an opportunity to harness the full potentials of our life. It makes sense that if you won a gift card with a limited time of viability you would do all you could to exhaust its value before the set date of expiry. This is exactly how it should apply to life.

Death is the only known natural exit from life; no one comes out of life alive. Life and death are two sides of the same coin. No matter what the definition of life is in a given situation, death is simply the absence of life as it applies in that context.

Paradoxically, to fully live means to embrace death. Embracing death means to rid ourselves of the fear of death, and that in turn will give us the ability to truly live.

Death doesn’t care what we think. Death doesn’t mind if we are worried or scared by the thought of it. It doesn’t even matter how much we think we are prepared to avoid it. All we would achieve by living in fear of death or fixating on the denial of its inevitability is robbing ourselves of the joys of today and the promise of the future.

So rid yourself of the needless fear of death and live freely and live true to yourself. Express your delights and smile genuinely. Cry when it hurts and share your pains and sorrows. Love purely. Dare to dream and take on adventure. Forgive easily, heal and move on, and remember that in the end, we all die.

Hi there! it’s Ikenna. Hope you enjoyed reading? The medium partner program is not available in my country Nigeria, and I would appreciate your support. Please buy me a coffee?

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