“I’m Troubled By Fears Of Death” (Podcast)


A reader of FOTM emails me to say that lately he’s been oppressed by fears of death and dying.

It’s worrying him, and he wants to know what the Stoics would have said about it.

I provide some suggestions.

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7 thoughts on ““I’m Troubled By Fears Of Death” (Podcast)

  1. Death is something we will talk and think of until there’s no man left to fear it. Even then, I suppose we won’t have pondered it enough.

    Personally, I don’t know if I do fear death. It will happen one day, and while I say one shouldn’t actively seek it out, when death comes, the only thing left to do is embrace it.

    I was re-reading Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations (Penguin Great Ideas edition, translated by Maxwell Staniforth), the other day, and there’s a passage in book three that, to me, sums up Stoic thought and action quite plainly and succinctly, including the proper attitude towards death. Since the question in the podcast was related to the Stoics, I figured I’d put it up here:

    “In your actions let there be a willing promptitude, yet a regard for the common interest; due deliberation, yet no irresolution; and in your sentiments no pretentious over-refinement. Avoid talkativeness, avoid officiousness. The god within you should preside over a being who is virile and mature, a statesman, a Roman, and a ruler; one who has held his ground, like a soldier waiting for the signal to retire from life’s battlefield and ready to welcome his relief; a man whose credit need neither be sworn to by himself nor avouched by others. Therein is the secret of cheerfulness, of depending on no help from without and needing to crave from no man the boon of tranquility. We have to stand upright ourselves, not be set up.”

    And there it is: “(…) one who has held his ground, like a soldier waiting for the signal to retire from life’s battlefield and ready to welcome his relief”.

    Seems to me like that’s the practical side of the Stoic’s view on death, without going into the mortality or immortality of the soul. A relief from a life well lived, a strenuous life, perhaps, maybe indeed a battlefield, but a battle well-fought. In that sense, death is not an evil at all.

    Perhaps the important thing is to focus on that battle, not on worrying about death.

    Not an easy thing to do, by any means.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The thing that helped me the most was a sentence from, I think, Seneca:
    Death does not concern me. As long as I live, it does not affect me. And once I’m dead, I cannot worry about it anymore.

    I think, people are mostly scared of death, because there really is nothing to know about death, which in turn is the main reason for fear. This knowledge gives them something to think about, relieving said fear.


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