Hey Gramps, I have a weird question for you. I have a terrible fear of dying. It has been something I have experienced since I can remember. I just have a feeling that something horrible is waiting in the wings for me. I know that sounds crazy but I can’t shake it and it scares me so badly. It is something I think about constantly. My patriarchal blessings talks about how my transfer to the next life will be a sweet experience and that I will teach that there is no sting in death. But how do I shake this fear of dying. I am a good person and I always try my very best, so my fear has nothing to do with whether or not I will be with my Father in Heaven. It is the thought of actually dying that scares me.
I think that we can clear up your problem for you. Most fear, and especially in cases such as you describe, comes from the anticipation of the unknown. If I tell you what the actual experience of dying is like, then you’ll know what to expect and there will be no cause for fear. Let’s look at a couple of different scenarios. In the first place, most death occurs when you’re unconscious, so you won’t feel a thing or know anything about it until you arrive on the other side, at which point it will be a marvelous experience.
Case in point–61 years ago my family and I were in a very serious head-on collision. I was driving. It was just dusk. We were on a gentle down-slope on a straight road, headed for a narrow bridge at about 55 mph. Across the bridge the road bended to our left. As we neared the bridge we saw a car approaching around the bend from the other direction. When we were about 10 or 20 feet in front of the bridge we could tell that the other car was way over on our side of the road. The only thought that entered my mind in that last fraction of a second was, “We’re not going to make it!” There was no time for panic or reflection or anything else. All of a sudden there was nothing. I was unconscious. Had I been killed, the death experience would have been nothing while I was yet alive, and would have been a marvelous experience when I would have emerged into the spirit world. Incidentally, when I regained consciousness there was also no pain. Although injuries to all the family were rather severe, I felt calm and took care of the injured children and my dear wife until we were safely lodged in a nearby hospital. When all were put down and taken care of, I got out my Book of Mormon and read myself to sleep. HOWEVER, when I awoke the next morning, with all of the adrenalin dissipated, I COULDN’T MOVE BECAUSE OF THE PAIN!!! What you ought to be afraid of in situations such as those is that you won’t die–much more painful.
Another way to die is to be taken by the Lord in your sleep. Again, you’re unconscious–no feeling, no anticipation. You wake up in a new marvelous environment–no problem! Yet another way is to die in what is called a painful death from a fatal illness. Again that’s a misnomer. It is not a painful death. The pain may be so severe that one would lose consciousness, or death may come while enduring the pain. In both cases the death experience is a joyful and happy release from the effects of the illness.
When I die, I want to go peacefully, in my sleep, like my grandfather–not awake and screaming, like the passengers in his car!