Throughout history, death and the fear of, has been a great motif in literature and art. Arnold Böcklin’s “Self Portrait with Death, the Fiddler” we see a man recoiling in horror as he sees death hovering over his shoulder, a skeletal figure with a fiddle tucked under it’s grotesque grin. Viewers can see that his view of death is not a pleasant one and is probably tainted with fear. Although we can see dread in the artist’s eyes there is also a sort of stoic acceptance as he realizes that it is his time. For everyone has their own time and although there will always be doubts and fears we just have to learn to accept it.
Every person has had an experience with death to some degree, whether it was the death of a family member, a friend or even a pet. These experiences can have a varying degree of impact, as it matters the level of attachment that that person had to the deceased. I personally have never had anyone extremely close to me die and although I am grateful for the lack of deaths in my family, it has left me completely unprepared to deal with it when it comes to death outside my family. A few of my closest friends have had family members who were dying and I didn’t know how to comfort them. I can’t say ‘I feel your pain’ or ‘I know what you’re going through’ because I don’t. Also, I’m not sure if I should fear it or just embrace the fact that we all will die. The only truly shocking experience I’ve had with death was when I volunteered at a local vet clinic. I had been working there for about two and a half months and I was just getting into the routine of things. Occasionally, there would be something unexpected like a cat knocked out on the table or a dog lying in surgery, its stomach lying open, but, for the most part, I was used to it. Until it happened. I wandered through the main room looking for leashes to walk the boarded dogs that were staying there when I saw a still little body lying on the counter. I figured it was just another routine dental cleaning. But as I watched, the head vet technician walked in with a black bag. She gently took the little dog and placed it inside the bag. After she sealed the bag, she turned around and saw me staring, wide-eyed. She simply stated, “It was his time to go,” and then moved off to another room. I paused for about a minute, waiting to see movement in the bag. Movement meant life. I realized my waiting was futile and I shuffled off to take care of the other animals. This was my first real taste of how the world treats death. The world just acts like it is nothing out of the ordinary, which I suppose it is. This left me wondering if that is how I’ll die, will people just say, “Oh, it was her time.” And then place me in my own black bag and pretend like I never existed. That is sometimes how it can seem to be, but everyone will be remembered and mourned by someone after his or her death.
In the darkest pits of the human mind there lies an innate fear of death. Research has led us to the basic reasons of this fear, or thanatophobia. In her article, “Thanatophobia: Fear of Death” Lisa Fritscher reveals, through the use of factual evidence, why humans fear death. In her writing, Fritscher explores the roots of this fear such as religious issues, fear of the loss of control or even fear of the act of dying itself. Fritscher identifies that it is human nature to crave knowledge and understanding, but death, however, is the ultimate unknown as no one is sure