How often do you think about death?

Ready for a morbid post?

Life is never boring when you are constantly being observed by an inquisitive seven-year-old. This weekend my daughter asked us, “What’s the closest you’ve ever been to dying?”

I told her about a car accident I was in when I was a teenager. I was a very inexperienced driver – it was the morning after I got my driver’s license. I went around a bend and lost control on black ice. I nearly put my car in the river but a tree stopped me. My car landed mangled and on its side. I escaped through the passenger-side window. I walked away from the accident with very minor injuries but it could have easily been a lot worse. I have a scar on my chin because I was very petite and the seat belt didn’t fit me properly. 

My husband also responded with a car accident.


Kids are curious about everything, but how often do you think about death?

I have to admit, I think about death a lot more often than I used to. Last weekend was my 41st birthday. I don’t think I’m old, but I do find my health struggles very discouraging. Every weekend I sit down and pack out my meds for the following week. There are just that many. I always keep an updated list of my meds in my purse so I have it at every doctor’s appointment. I am simply on too many meds to reliably recite them by memory, and lately, I have had many changes in my meds. It’s hard not to think that I’m too young to be going through this.

The thing is, I’m actually doing a lot better. My ambition and motivation are coming back and I am more engaged with the people around me. Those have always been markers that I’m doing well in my recovery. Thankfully, my kidney functioning is also doing better. I am so grateful that I am finally feeling relief. I am in a good place now. 

When I came off of lithium due to kidney problems I almost immediately went manic, but what goes up must come down, and I eventually landed in some crushing depression. I had suicidal thoughts and they felt different than when I had suicidal thoughts in the past. In the past when I’ve been suicidal, I felt desperate, trapped, but also subdued and sluggish. This time I felt anxious and panicky. I was afraid I would get impulsive and just do it. These thoughts actually caused a physical reaction. I would get hot and my heart would race. I’ve never felt anything like it.

I was honest with my husband and doctor about my suicidal thoughts. It was really hard and I was reluctant, but I was aware that it was a symptom of my mental illness. Thankfully the thoughts were fleeting and they went away after a few med adjustments. 

The past few months have been absolutely grueling both physically and mentally and I think it would have been odd if I didn’t think about death. Not only due to suicidal thoughts but also kidney failure is serious. My grandpa died of kidney failure although he was much, much older than me. 

I want to share a poem I wrote several months back — prior to my most recent health struggles. It always gets a big reaction from my husband every time he reads it, but it happens to be one of my favorite poems that I’ve ever written.


The Conclusion


It’s unforgiving and final –
the conclusion of your story.
You hope to slip into the darkness
unscathed and ready
but your end is unpredictable.

Each day brings you closer to your goodbyes –
if a goodbye can even be said at all.
Your memory lingers at first
but time passes and everyone must move on
without you.

Savor every connection a little more
because your demise is always just around the corner.
Not every finale is grand
but we all end up the same –
crumbling into nothingness.

Say what you need to say
before the silence
and don’t look back
because your countdown
has already begun.


I feel I should end this post with a resource – the suicide and crisis lifeline. If you or a loved one is struggling, you can call or text 988 for help. Feelings are temporary and worthwhile and practical help is available. We are never alone.

Let’s entertain my daughter’s question. If you are comfortable sharing, what’s the closest you’ve ever been to death? How often do you think about death?



    The closest I’ve been to death was the night before, but I didn’t realize it until the morning after, laying on the table for an angiogram, where I saw the coronary artery that wasn’t functioning any more, and the part of my heart that wasn’t beating any more.It was a life changing moment, and seven years later I am healthier and fitter than I have ever been. The motivation to change wasn’t a blinding light – instead it was just that all resistance to change fell away.

  2. SailorStar says

    Glad you survived the car crash.

    As a lifelong surfer, I’ve nearly drowned a couple of times after bad wipeouts. In the military I was a passenger in a Jeep that flipped, came close to dying, and spent a bit of time in the hospital. In regular life, I’ve had several close-calls on the roads from other drivers who were busy texting or just obliviously piloting a couple of tons of metal on wheels–in the past 30 years, I’ve been in cars that were totalled three times and am a bit surprised I’ve never been seriously hurt from others’ carelessness. I have to say, I’ve never felt suicidal and I’m sure that’s a hopeless, horrible feeling. It sounds like for you, it’s because of a medication imbalance and not part of your baseline emotional makeup.

    I am older than you and I’m telling you, it’s a terrible thing to realize you’re not 20 anymore. To realize it’s going to take more to heal than a good night’s sleep.

  3. says

    Thinking about death and thinking about suicide are two different things.
    I think of it constantly, but not in the context of that I am going to try to do anything to bring it on. But I plan for it, and almost look forward to it (except that it always seems unpleasant).

  4. Katydid says

    I nearly died in childbirth a couple of decades ago–something appallingly common and becoming more and more so for political reasons. In my case, I knew something was very wrong, went to the doctor, and was told it was all in my head and maybe a nice bowl of ice cream would cheer me right up and come back next week for my regularly-scheduled appointment (baby nearly died, I ended up spending 8 weeks in a coma). Of course, women are just stupid frivolous beings who don’t understand the basics of how their bodies work, amirite?

    Have I ever thought about suicide? I can’t say that I have. I fully agree that anyone who feels that way should immediately seek help.

  5. antaresrichard says

    Once in a car accident, where the overcompensating vehicle went off the road and rolled down a fifty foot, boulder-strewn embankment. I was asleep in the back seat, and rudely awoke to the start of the roll over. Fortunately, I and my two friends were unscathed, though the car was demolished.

    The second incident was my attempted suicide. However, I was lucky to be living across the street from the nation’s premiere emergency ward at the time. I when I changed my mind, I merely walked across the street from my 988 address to the hospital where I was immediately treated for my overdose and kept under observation for the next twenty four hours.

    That attempt was decades ago I am happy to report.


    I really like your poem.

  6. Roeland de Bruijn says

    My brother in law (and friend) just passed away at 61. Cancer. We have been made responsible for the music for his funeral. Obviously leads to what we would like to play for our own funeral. As an atheist death will be the same as not being born, so completely fine. Dying can be horrible, but I will just seek assistance if I am in pain. Doesn’t worry me.
    Leaving partner, friends and family grieving is the main hurdle to take.

  7. birgerjohansson says

    Since my father got cancer and died 1983 there may have been a day now and then when I have *not* been thinking about death.

  8. John Morales says

    Only when I have to, so far.

    But I do like the aphorism of Epicurus:
    “Death is nothing to us. When we exist, death is not; and when death exists, we are not. All sensation and consciousness ends with death and therefore in death there is neither pleasure nor pain.”

  9. brightmoon says

    Since I’m not living with my toxic abusive family I don’t think of it much . I might look up the death penalty stats or a true crime youtube when I’m feeling morbid but I’ve learned that that only makes me feel bad.

  10. anat says

    Since death alone is certain,
    and the time of death uncertain,
    what should I do?

    meditation on death – stephen batchelor
    Adaptation of a traditional Tibetan contemplation on mortality. Excerpt from Buddhism without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening by Stephen Batchelor, Riverhead Books, 1998.

    I know people who find this very helpful. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to go beyond, ‘yes, obviously, I could die this minute, or tomorrow, or any day, so what?’

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