I was recently present at a conversation in which someone asked if old people were ever happy to die or if they would cling onto life regardless, even when they were ill and in pain. The general view was that, whatever their physical and mental condition, most people would try to live for as long as they could. There are certainly some who do seek to die because of long-term sickness and extreme pain or incapacity but, by and large, the old people today hold on to life for as long as possible even when they are unable to enjoy much about it. This, it was agreed, is because of the natural human desire for self-preservation, and is universal.
I disagreed. I thought that the fact, if true, simply showed the lack of belief in God and the absolute refusal of modern men and women to think in terms of an afterlife. We are indoctrinated to believe this to be wishful thinking and so we reject it as fantasy. I said that the reluctance to face and accept death is the mark of a person completely out of harmony with reality, someone who has cut himself off from not only the spiritual but the natural too. For, even if the spiritual is ignored, we should accept natural cycles and know that there is a time to let go and depart this life. For myself, I said, I would not be concerned about death once I felt I had done what I was supposed to do and fulfilled my obligations. I would be nervous because it is a tremendous step into the unknown and I do believe in some kind of post-mortem judgement when your earthly life has to be accounted for, but I would not be frightened nor would I try to resist it or prolong life beyond its natural point.
Death is the summation of life and should be completely accepted. If you submit to God's will in this matter and resign yourself to his keeping in humility then whatever you may or may not have done in your life you will be all right. The creature is returning to the Creator and that is a tremendous thing to be faced with a sense of awe but also wonder and excitement. It is only the person who rejects his Creator who need fear death.