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So far, I have been face-to-face with death twice. The first one when my friend’s car skidded on the road between Jakarta and Bandung, I was sitting in front. It happened so fast, and during the skid I only thought “What’s gonna happen now? Ayayaya the car is uncontrollable! It’s just like in the movie! How exciting!” Only when it’s all over I realize I had been in a very serious and possibly fatal situation. If there had been a car, bus, or truck from the opposite direction, I would’ve been squashed flat to death. Only then I began to shake and sigh in relief that I was still alive.
The second time was when I gave birth of my first son Noe. I was hemorrhaging and I lost more than half of my blood. If you’re pregnant and may be affected by this story, stop reading NOW! But rest assured that my condition is not commonly happening, so you don’t need to be afraid.
I think the bleeding happened quite slowly, in a 30-minutes period after the birth. Blood was just gushing steadily from my underside, and I saw the concerned look from the doctor. During the whole thing, I wasn’t (or didn’t have time to be) scared of death. This is roughly the sequence events and my thoughts, as far as I could remember now:
When the doctor and nurses wrapped up everything, I began to realize the seriousness of the situation. My mum entered the room with a very concerned look. Later I heard that my husband cried at home because he was scared of losing me.
How did I personally feel? I felt relieved that it’s all over. But I could say that during the height of the event, I totally surrendered to the fact that I could either live or die. Not once did I think during the height of the event that “I don’t wanna die!”. Instead, I thought more of “If I have to live, I’ll live, and if I have to die, I’ll die”. After that, I was not relieved because I finally stayed alive, but simply because it’s all over.
In conclusion, I think, when we are actually face-to-face with death, we wouldn’t have time to be afraid of death anymore. I think we all would surrender to that event that would lead to death. Maybe it’s like, when you realize your parachute won’t open, you just surrender to the fact that it won’t open and you might as well enjoy the fall.
Interestingly, we seem to be more afraid of death when it happens around us, rather than when we’re actually face-to-face with it. Have you ever been close to other people’s death? Perhaps you have, when your friend or family members passed away. For me, when someone close to me passes away, I became quite somber and sad. For a few days I could endlessly think why it happened and how it impacted the people around the person who died.
One of a death event that affected me quite profoundly was my cousin's death 2 years ago. Her death, which was caused by amniotic fluid embolism during childbirth, freaked me out because of two things. First, I was due for my own childbirth within 3 weeks after her death. It was inevitable that I became really distraught. Secondly, my first childbirth was complicated by pre-eclampsia and severe hemorrhage and that practically put me into the high risk category, even though I don't experience pre-eclampsia now.
So basically the first few days after her death I was very much distraught, and I couldn't sleep at night thinking about her and my death. I became very scared of childbirth that faces me in a few weeks time. But I couldn't explain to myself on what exactly made me distraught and scared. Come to think of it, I was scared more from thinking about what would happen to my family when I die, what happened to the baby if I were absent, rather than being scared of the afterlife. That was what I thought at that time. This was the time, when I thought, “I don’t want to die!”
With the help of my friend, I went through my fear by writing about my feelings: fear, worry, anxiety, etc. So that’s what I did, and I also wrote my will before going onto childbirth. When my feelings were poured out in writings, I felt relieved and continued with my life. Fortunately my second childbirth was free of complication, so I didn’t need to use my will.
So.. in summary, death is an interesting thing! I think you won't have time to be scared when you face death, but you will definitely be scared when other people died! What’s your thoughts or experience with death and dying?