Fear Not Death

Answering the question about “dying well” is inextricably tied to a question about the nature of death itself. Is death a bad event, a good event, or neither? One perspective was given by Epicurus (341-270 BC). He believed that the whole of reality made up of just atoms in the void. His view of death was that it was nothing to be feared for once it has occurred one no longer exists. Prior to its occurrence it is neither good nor bad since it does not yet exist. The idea of “dying well” is misnamed, for being dead is a state, not a process. Living is a process that one can engage in well or badly. Being terminally ill is a process, which involves pain and suffering. One may wish for it to end, and so death may be desired. That is an aspect of living, not of being dead.

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