Death is an inevitable and natural part of any organisms’ life. It is something that we all seen, heard of, or pondered at one point. Throughout our history the presence of death is certain however over the last century we’ve seen it in various forms. For example, in the late 1700s, infectious diseases like smallpox, yellow fever, malaria, respiratory disease was the predominant cause of death in human beings. General mortality trends were varied but mostly due to underdeveloped medical care and yet to be discovered infection control polices. “Infections associated with cuts, amputations, and other medical “care” were also a constant problem and cause of death during the colonial period due to lack of knowledge about germs and the spread of disease” (Lamb, 2003). Infection control polices induced along with vaccinations lowered the mortality rate in relation to those caused however equally dangerous infectious and contagious diseases were introduced in the 19th century. Dangerous infections like tuberculosis, scarlet fever, and typhus. As we grew as a civilization and immigration, trade, and interregional migration increased so did mortality rates. Advances in the medical science did not have great impact until the 20th century. Over the past century deaths in the United States significantly decreased and overall life expectancy increases due to new revelations in science and public health advances. Things like pneumonia and influenza decreased due to our newfound sciences while cancer and heart disease increased.
Due to death being such a constant in all lives, some psychologists believe that we all have an innate fear of dying. The Terror Management Theory” was introduced by 1986 by social psychologists Jeff Greenberg, Tom Pyszczynski, and Sheldon Solomon based upon Anthropologist Ernest Becker’s ideas. This this was that people have a primordial fear of death and try to manage it in a variety of ways (Moore & Williamson, 2003). As said before, death is an inevitable and natural part of any organisms’ life, it is something that we all seen, heard of, or pondered at one point. It is only natural to be skeptical of something so very unavoidable with so little information on what exactly it is. The fear of death is universal and present in all of us, not because of the mystery that is associated with it but because of what it means to us. It is final, an annihilation of our person, a threat to the meaningfulness of life, and a threat to the completion of life projects. As natural as death is, it is also natural to feel anxious and afraid of it.
However, we all know in theory that death is and why it is causes fear but some of us are yet to understand how it affects you directly. Knowing someday, whether is anticipated or not, you are going to die can surprisingly shape your life and behaviors. “All human action is taken to ignore or avoid the anxiety generated by the inevitability of death” (braincraftvideo, 2015). Awareness of death can bring forth both positive and negative behaviors or perspectives in life. For example, some might be more aggressive, prejudice, violent. Whilst others will be more generous, charitable, or humorous. All these reactions are due to us finding ways to cope with our fear and anxiety. These fears may threaten some, causing a more negative outcome while simultaneously giving others a more positive state of mind bring them closer to others. Awareness of death can also motivate people prioritize physical health, build relationships, and peaceful charitable communities, foster open mindedness to the fact that our lives are limited (Vail & Juhl, 2015). Overall death has been a part of our life cycle for centuries and since the moment we were born. Active awareness of death can change how we see and live our lives, whether it’s for better or worse.
LAMB, V. (2003). Historical and epidemiological trends in mortality in the united states. In C. D. Bryant, & D. L. Peck Handbook of death & dying (pp. 185-197). SAGE Publications, Inc.,
MOORE, C., & WILLIAMSON, J. (2003). The universal fear of death and the cultural response. In C. D. Bryant, & D. L. Peck Handbook of death & dying (pp. 3-13). SAGE Publications, Inc.,
braincraftvideo. (2015, October 26). The surprising ways Death shapes our lives. YouTube. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Joalg73L_gw
Vail, Kenneth & Juhl, Jacob. (2015). An Appreciative View of the Brighter Side of Terror Management Processes. Social Sciences. 4. 1020-1045. 10.3390/socsci4041020.