Archive for the ‘fear of death’ Category

We distract ourselves to avoid thoughts of death

August 5, 2009

…only is here
The white flat face of Death, God’s silent servant,
And behind the face of death the Judgement

And behind the Judgement the Void, more horrid than active shapes of hell;
Emptiness, absence, separation from God;
The horror of the effortless journey, to the empty land
Which is no land, only emptiness, absence, the void,
Where those who were men can no longer turn the mind
To distraction, delusion, escape into dream, pretence,
Where the soul is no longer deceived, for there are no objects,
no tones,
No colours, no forms to distract, to divert the soul
From seeing itself, foully united forever, nothing with nothing,
Not what we call death, but what beyond death is not death,
We fear, we fear. Who shall then plead for me,
Who intercede for me, in my most need?

Dead upon the tree, my Saviour,
Let not be in vain Thy labour;
Help me, Lord, in my last fear.

Dust I am, to dust am bending,
From the final doom impending
Help me, Lord, for death is near.

T.S.Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral, Act 2, scene 17

The Fear of death and its fear removed

August 5, 2009

Death’s doom to sensual ears sad tidings brings

For death’s the king of fears and fear of kings

But to the mind resign’d a welcome guest

And only convoy to a Port of rest

Sir Henry Slingsby, in Cromwell, Antonia Fraser, p.470

Fear of Death

August 5, 2009

He who pretends to face death without fear is a liar


No rational man can die without uneasy apprehension…the fear of death is so natural to man that all life is one long effort not to think about it

Dr Johnson, in Boswell, J., The Life of Samuel Johnson, NY, 1927, vol.2, p.212

What men fear is not that death is annihilation but that it is not.


Nor dread, nor hope attend

A dying animal;

A man awaits his end,

Dreading and hoping all.

W.B. Yeats, Death

Death, in itself, is nothing;

But we fear,

To be we know not what,

We know not where.

Dryden, Aureng-Zebe iv, i

Fear of Non-Being

August 5, 2009

The eternal silence of the infinite spaces fills me with dread

Blaise Pascal

Fear of Death

August 5, 2009


I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
– The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused – nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast, moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear – no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anasthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small, unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can’t escape,
Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

Philip Larkin