When I first thought about death

I was seven years old when I suddenly thought of what would happen to me after I died. Before that, I had been content with the vision of heaven in the sky and all the dead people meeting there. But then one night, I wondered what would happen to my body after my spirit left it.

It was during my father’s bedside story time that this strange thought suddenly struck me. My younger brother had passed away a little over a year ago, and I started to think back on what I saw was done to his body after his death. I thought of the coffin, how it would have been dark inside after the lid was closed. I thought of the crematorium, how the coffin was taken into a closed chamber all alone. Lying down, I imagined myself being in that coffin or in that dark chamber all alone. I couldn’t bear it anymore.


I called out to my father.

“Yes, dear?”

“I’m scared of dying.”

My father was surprised by this statement expressed in such an unexpected moment. He put aside the book and started to explain to me how plants and animals made children to pass on their lives to the next generation. “Life continues,” he said. But that didn’t solve my concern. What if I find myself wide awake after people put my body inside a dark coffin? Or worse, while burning in the fire? Even if those were fine, what would it feel like to become nothingness after everything? That was beyond my imagination.

“I’m scared of dying.”

I repeated. My father gave up, and ran downstairs to ask for my mother’s help. My mother came upstairs and tried to sooth me with her insight into the matter.

“Aren’t you scared of dying, Mommy?”

I asked her. She said she wasn’t because she had me. I didn’t understand why that could be any reason not to be scared of death. My mother said the same thing as my father had told me a moment ago.

“Life continues.”

My anxiety didn’t go away that night. Even after receiving counselling from both of my parents, I felt overwhelmed by the scope of my death in the future, something that even my brilliant imagination couldn’t help me to prepare for.