Better to see Death coming or not?

I got into a dicussion with my dad the other day and am wondering what people thought of the following question:

If you had the choice, would you rather:

A. Know the exact moment of your death with absoloute percision(say an incurable diease that was very puctual) but you’d find out 5 years or so before the due date.

B. Die suddenly with no idea it was coming and no chance to even realize what had happened(say getting hit by a car and killed instantly).

Assuming opinion really matters…I mean, either way you’re out of the picture, right?

I’d definitely like to know. It would allow me to focus on what I really wanted out of life as opposed to wasting away in a cubicle buying wrecked cars all day long for an insurance company.

If I had any responsibilities (kids, wife, pets, etc.) I could arrange to have them provided for…you know. That kind of stuff.

And you never know…could be a cure before the clock runs out.

Of course, in either instance it wouldn’t really matter because you wouldn’t be able to see how everything shook out when you died. All that I care for may be provided for in a liability settlement against the bus company that squished me.

It would definitely be nicer to know. You could buy tons of term life insurance and then use your credit to live your final days in style. When you finally kick the bucket your policy would take care of the bills. Of course, this is assuming that your insurance company wouldn’t know about your departure date.

Definitely #B. I’ve been in a couple of car accidents, for example, and found they were actually quite fun. A break in the routine, at least. If you happened to die at the end of it, well, you’re none the wiser and you had a bit of fun. But if you knew the date, you’d spend the rest of your time obsessing about it. Morbid. And to run up bills or buy life insurance on that basis, I have to say that’s a bit immoral.

I think it’d be best to die sudde…

Tell me you didn’t say that. Please.

My mom died suddenly. Here one moment, gone the next. Quick and painless for her, devastating as all hell for the rest of us.

My dad died slowly, seeing it coming for far too long (nearly 5 years). Sheer physical misery for too many years. Horribly difficult for us all, and a relief for the family when he finally died.

Both were the hardest things I’d ever experienced up to that time, but mom at least didn’t suffer. Dad sure as hell did.

I’d pick fast and unexpected.

I would like to see Death coming. Makes it that much easier to kill him.

For both myself and my loved ones, I’d choose B. My families have tended towards that, with life lived until check-out.

My stepmom called me one Saturday afternoon - Dad was two hours late picking her up at the airport, could I go check on him? I think I knew when I got in the car. It was only a ten minute drive over to their house, but by the time I got there I was sure. And running.

There he was, dead on the bathroom floor. Croaked on the crapper. Intense emotional experience for the next few days, but my family does a great wake.

A little tough on the roster, though.

When my stepmom died, it was sudden cardiac arrest (she was ~86) in the night. Once again, intense emotions for the next week, lots of good bonding, yadda, yadda, yadda…

My Mom is 87 and spry as ever. Last year, or maybe the year before, my sister and I bought her a car because hers had crapped out. We got her a little turbocharged Volvo, bright red with alloy wheels, an air dam up front and a big wing on the trunk lid.

Little old lady from Pasadena, right? So I’m driving home from work a few weeks ago and I spot a speedo maniac moving up in traffic quite rapidly. “Hey,” I think, “that’s the same car we bought for Mom!” Guess who?

So, she’s doing OK, perhaps even better than me. But, love her as I do, I know it’s inevitable, and I hope for the Big Whammie in the night.

I’ve had two close friends die of AIDS. While I’ve met others, these were friends that I knew before their HIV infections. Nursing them down to the last day (well, really, night - I have no end of appreciation for the staff at the Diagnostic Clinic of Houston) was far more debilitating to my SO, friends and associates than the sudden deaths of parents were.

This has been an emotionally charged post for me.

Shit, I’m crying.




I’d rather have B - not knowing the exact moment of my death. I try to live my life to it’s fullest already, without having a shadow cast over me.

That being said, however, I would like to meet Death with my eyes open.

Well I’d like it to be B, but I already know it’ll be more A than B.

Absolutely not! There can be nothing worse than having in all of your daily actions that looming knowledge of death just around the corner. Even if you tried not to think of it in those terms, how could you not?

I understand those of you who say that to know the date of your death, you can plan accordingly, etc. But the idea of knowing the exact date of my death could easily consume my thoughts, making it impossible to enjoy any amount of life that I had left.

I prefer to live the following way:

“Live like you will die tomorrow; learn like you will live forever.” -Gandhi

I’d prefer A. That way I could say goodbye to those I care about, and be able to not leave any regrets behind(not that they’d matter to me when I was dead, of course).

Yes, because you do, in fact, live “forever.” Learn like you would like to not have to solve the next problem next life, was what he was saying. It’s so sad to see people spinning their wheels.

Not in Anger, the whole point of that quote is to live your life fully now and my comments towards that are hardly “spinning wheels.” I do that and prefer to do that without the knowledge of my actual date of death. Granted, sometimes it is easy to get caught up in your daily routine without that so called “living life to it’s fullest” mentality but for the most part that’s how I prefer to live.

I the biggest advantage I can see to A is being able to plan accordingly, being able to get around to all those things you’ve been putting off for so long, and perhaps making peace/coming to terms with the fact you are going to die.

One of my uncles died of cancer a couple months ago after knowing for years. My mom(his sister) said that while it was sad, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been, mostly because the family had been greiving for a while, while he was still alive and had come to some kind of terms with his impending departure.

Well, I don’t want to suffer, that’s for sure! I want to die quickly and in perfect health.

If it was possible to predict a sudden and unexpected death, I tend to think that knowing the exact circumstances of my death would be very freedom-enhancing. I would no longer have to deal with the dreary business of paying for insurance that I may never need, worrying about career and education and such, and the other hassles caused by the necessity of needing to GUESS what’ll happen to me over the next 50 years.

Vlad Dracul, how could you possible interpret what I said as in some way disagreeing with you? I was merely framing Gandhi’s observation within his belief system, to expand on your point.

My apologies, Not in Anger… I did completely miss the point of your statement. Odd. For some reason I thought you were disagreeing with me and then going on to tell me something I already knew.

It’s like me saying, “The barn is red.”

And then you coming along and saying, “No you are wrong, the barn is red. Sheesh.”

Yes, I see now that you even wrote “Yes” instead of “No” at the beginning of your statement. Duh, Whetherman. Sorry about the misunderstanding. Now I’d like to say instead, “Well done, Not in Anger. Thanks for the back-up.” :slight_smile: