Facing Our Mortality

This pandemic and related lockdown measures has brought on fears and anxieties in those who do not normally suffer such feelings. But what exactly is it that we are anxious or afraid of? Those working in mental health will tell you that unless and until we’re able to admit this, little progress will be made in overcoming it.

Some will no doubt be afraid of catching covid-19 and/or of the physical suffering that goes with that. And underlying those fears? A fear of dying, of death, of being Dead. The taboo on such subjects in the West makes it a particularly powerful and prevalent fear. In the East, by contrast, where they talk about karma and reincarnation, then death is a fact of life. As and when your time has come, you die. What is the problem?

Consider also the climate emergency and a very distinct possibility that our whole society and species is heading for extinction. If a virus does not get us some form of breakdown of the weather system probably will! It really is time to face our fears, and in doing so face our mortality.

I am not saying that this is easy, but have you noticed that it is those who are philosophical about life (and death) who have been best able to cope with the pandemic?

Besides, our mental health is being affected not just by fears of physical death. How many of us, for example, are severely depressed by a social death? Lockdown and social distancing are totally at odds with a human need to engage deeply with each other.

Could it even be that our fear of dying from within, of a heart and soul withering away through lack of social and emotional engagement, is forcing us to face our other fears?

Either way, as we become more aware of all of our fears, do we not become stronger and wiser?

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