Death May Be More Positive for the Dying Than We Expect


In Dr Art Markman, PH.D in Ulterior Motives's publication on PsychologyToday in Aug 17, he was straightforward on the matter that death is negative and scary. 

Many of us fear death.  He had written on “terror management theory” that argues that people develop strategies to cope with their fear of dying. Atheletics will continue to participate in sporting events, some people will tick the boxes in their bucket list, some may go for lifestyle changes to live healthier, and the list goes on...

Given this, it is natural for anyone to think that the nearer you are to death, the more obvious your actions will be to prove just that. It is, and had always been our natural instinct in pursuit of immortality.

He mentioned that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross had previously laid out what the five stages of grief, and she was actually describing the experiences of people who were facing the head-on battle with death. Acceptance was the last stage, where many overcame the fear, and that they were no longer afraid. They accepted death in any and every positive way.

Dr Art Markman went on to question the evidence that people who are dying tend to embrace death in the positive light.

In his exploration, he cited that Amelia Goranson, Ryan Ritter, Adam Waytz, Michael Norton, and Kurt Gray had studied the content and keywords of blogs written by people dying from terminal illness and prisoners on death row as compared to healthy living people. The results shooked the world. People who are facing death expressed twice as many positive sentiments as compared to healthy people, and the positive sentiments increased closer to the final calling.

Thinking back, my own grandma passed on in Feb 17. During my last meet-up with my Heroine, she leaned forward and rested her cheek against the back of my hand. She looked me in the eyes and greeted me with a big wide smile. She whispered, "Thank you. Live Strong. Be Happy". Those words are simple and clear. Those words held so much gratitude and appreciation to life and living. So much so that they are irreplaceable by any other mortal words.

The studies above are consistent with the positivity of people approaching death, that their lives are fulfilled. There was no fear. There was no regret. Our Heros and Heroines embraces death as if it is their own and had accepted what is likely to happen.

When someone close to us dies, we are sad because of the loss. It is reassuring to come to terms with the fact that for many people, their perception of death is surely be more positive than our own.