Maintaining that Mental Catalog “Ways I Could Die”

A friend of many of my friends passed away suddenly a couple days ago.  I did not know her but just from who our mutual friends are, and looking at a photo of her with her children and husband, I can tell that we would have been friends too, had our lives crossed paths.

The thing is, nobody knows yet what happened. Heart attack, aneurysm, or…? I find myself really wanting to know, and at first I was chastising myself for being morbid, a rubber-necker… and I kept thinking, WHY the intense curiosity, morbidity? Where does that come from? So I mulled it over and here’s what I think.

We all know life is fleeting. And when someone our age passes away, naturally we start pondering our own mortality and “if we passed away suddenly…” Right?

Well, I think that the need to know HOW or WHY… is a simple defense mechanism, survival instinct. We need to know so that we can add to our mental catalog the ways that we could die, so we can try and do whatever we can to prevent this.  Heart attack? Pay attention to that rising cholestrol level and exercise more.. and so on.

Six years ago, when I had cancer and was going through chemo, and talked to friends about it, often the first things that they said was related to their own mortality. They talked about things like, “what if I died, what will happen to my kids….” They also almost always asked what caused the cancer – obviously they wanted to know if they needed to add this to their mental catalog “ways I can die / things to prevent.”

My heart goes out to her family and friends, it’s a tragedy.  If you were close to her, please accept my deepest condolences.

Elise

Elise is a former  journalist turned web developer turned event planner. She is deaf, advocates for accessible technology and ASL literacy, and very opinionated. Her passion is her family - husband Lee, sons Logan and Lucas - and her business.

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