Near the end of the work day, a younger colleague ambled to my office and, earnestly remarked, "I fear death a lot, always have." She went on to say that, from an early age, she witnessed the passing of several relatives. I was moved by the innocence with which she shared her fear of death with me. I felt a strong affinity with my colleague and let her know that I, too, have lived with death anxiety for many years.
She asked me what has helped to allay this anxiety. I told her about numerous retreats on "Conscious Living, Conscious Dying," that I attended for a number of years where I heard many people recall encounters with loved ones who had passed away. My colleague asked me if I believed in reincarnation. I said no, but I'm open to the possibility after hearing so many others recount experiences with deceased loved ones.
In the end, I realized there was nothing I could say that would dissolve my coworker's fear of death. For her, it is the unknown that she fears most. Perhaps we seek knowledge through the better part of our lives in hopes of stumbling upon the key that unlocks the secret of death and what becomes of us after we die. Or, could it be that the unknown itself is death's way of familiarizing us with it, wishing to be befriended by us?
still summer night
I lie in bed listening