Bite-Sized Musings: Death/Lack of Control

Editor's note: "Bite-sized Musings" is a blog topic theme developed in response to a criticism of this blog by Steve Norberg - friend and editor of Scan My Life - that the posts are too long and don't have enough pictures/bullet points to be digested easily. BSMs are short, relevant questions about important topics intended to generate discussion. They can only work if the "comments" feature is utilized. Please comment; thank you! <3

A Christian friend visited Sula House recently, and we "had a pow wow" and talked about theology. Of course heaven/hell was mentioned, and she asked me: "Are you afraid of death?" Because I'm not really a Christian, the question was kind of: "Aren't you afraid of Hell?" I'm not, because I don't really believe in it.

But I think the question has a more interesting philosophical underpinning - a lot of people who don't believe in Heaven or Hell still fear death. But why? I have a theory - because death is inevitable. I think that people who fear death also have an inherent fear of the inevitable.

Responses to Inevitability
1. Worry/Fear - Many people develop fear of "inevitables" because they cannot be controlled or avoided, despite human effort. "You can't stop it or change it! It's coming no matter what! There is no control! Doesn't that freak you out? There's nothing you can do about it!"

2. Indifference - Fewer people feel that because nothing can be done, there is no use worrying about something that cannot be avoided. "Well, I'm going to die someday and there's nothing I can do about it - so why waste the life I do have worrying about something I can't change?"

This doesn't just apply to things like death and (blaugh) taxes. You've already taken an exam and your professor is grading it. Do you worry about the outcome or relax because post-exam, it's completely out of your hands?

-> Do you worry about the inevitable or are you indifferent?
-> Are you afraid of death?
-> What other examples of "inevitables" can you think of?
-> Does your response to the "inevitable" change depending on its severity (i.e. I'm not worried about my exam score but the thought of death paralyzes me?)


  1. When I saw "bite-sized musing" I was prepared for the biggest mouthful ever. :P This length is very manageable but not quite a amuse-bouche.

    On the subject of death I am too far removed to care at this point. When I took my 95 y.o. grandfather to doctor this weekend he recalled the following line from Shakespeare which reflects his attitude.

    "Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.
    Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear;
    Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come". - (Julius Cesaer Act II, Scene II).

    Thanks for the Scan my Life shout out!

  2. Steve I can't believe I didn't link it! I'm editing it right now.

    And can I say - that quote is the exact most perfect thing ever? This is the best comment I've ever had on my blog, by the way.

    One other thought, though - what's an "amuse-bouche"?

  3. Someone hasn't been keeping up on their Top Chef. An amuse-bouche is a single, bite-sized hors d’oeuvre. It HAS to be one bite! Otherwise it an hors d’oeuvre.

  4. Haha I've never watched Top Chef. That's an interesting term.

    Just curious, Steve - do you get some kind of notification when I respond to your comment or do you have to check back here to see if there's been a response?