Would you want to know when you will die?

On and off throughout my life I have been contemplating if I want to know when I’m going to die. These thoughts resurfaced recently with the hanging of Saddam Hussein (where I think the death penalty was a travesty of justice; he should have lived and served his time) and every time I think about it I get all these horrible feelings of what it would actually be like to know.

Take people who are up for execution. What runs through their head when they know they’re will die within minutes? Can they think clearly, or is it just a rush of adrenaline and feelings of panic running through them? People who have some kind of terminal illness, and at one point the doctor gives them the verdict, telling them when they’re about to leave this world. I can’t possibly fathom the fear and exasperation I would feel in such a situation.

Although knowing when it is my time to go would give me the time to prepare my family, say good-byes and make necessary practical and economical arrangements for their benefit, I think, if I get to choose, I prefer not knowing. Just live life to the fullest, without anxiety eating up the short time we all have this short time in our lives.

Would you want to know?

 

Related reading

17 Comments

  • Theoretically it would then leave you “invincible” for the rest of the time if you held such knowledge, which could be “interesting”.

    Unless of course you meant you know the date you are going to be “terminated” or something and that is a different issue. Such a cheery topic to start March with.

  • Jeff says:

    That's a really had question to answer. On one hand I would like the chance to tie up my loose ends and say my goodbyes, but on the other hand, I'd also, as you say, like to avoid the anxiety and dread that would come with knowing when you were going to die.

    If I were going to be reduced to a vegetative state before I died, I'd probably prefer to know that way that I could take steps to ensure that I went out on my own terms. I don't want to live in pain, unable to take care of myself and just be waiting until my body finally gives out.

    I just don't know for sure, though.

  • Stephen Hill says:

    I remember reading about Michael Holmes, a Skydiver who’s both main and reserve parachutes failed and survived

    World exclusive skydiver video…

    He said nothing went through his mind, he never felt the need to panic, he just said goodbye to his head cam and waited until he hit the ground.

    Although, I suppose only having seconds to think about it (or not) is different to day, month or even years.

  • Death is as real as birth. I will accept it without fear, peacefully.

  • Joseph says:

    Well now you can find out – Your Death Date 🙂

  • RobertDM says:

    would I want ot know? not really.

    I had it calculated: I’ve got until 18-9-2038, then I’l be 68, which happens to be the same age my father died 😮

  • Knowing when you are going to die would make most human activity absurd (which it is anyway) and the more mundane/personal activities more precious. Many people go through life oblivious – so knowing when your time is up may make your time (and your life) more valuable. For instance, knowing when you will die may make you may spend less time caring about “how to set dynamic font size consitently with CSS”. By the way, I always use a base of 0.76em. Now back to Camus.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Thanks for your comments!

    And Jason: that’s just hilarious, and a very good point!

  • Stefan Van Reeth says:

    Nah, I really don't want to know. I would constantly feel the need not to waste time because the clock is ticking. That wouldn't make my life any happier. Now I can happily ignore that clock and do nothing when I feel like it without getting anxious, because the future is on a very distant horizon. I still have all my life before me to be active, no? Aaah, ignorance is bliss!!!

    About Saddam: in a way your right but there were other things at stake. Killing him off asap was important, because of the instability of the country.

    Why? Now everyone knows for sure he won't ever be back in power. If he lived, there would be a bunch of people who would keep on fighting (err.. bad word for bombing innocents) to get him back. As it is now, they will give up way sooner because in the end they will come to see their 'fight' is useless.

    At least, that's the theory like it was in my textbook. Being NATO, I guess mine wasn't all that different from the one used in the USA. Or is there anyone who think's it was the Iraqui's decision? Yeah right, and snow tastes like sugar and lollypops grow on trees… Welcome to planet Earth :).

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Stefan,

    Thanks for sharing! And I agree, one would just run around worrying…

    Saddam's maybe a larger disussion for another day!

  • Arron says:

    Yes I think it would be great to know. You could plan your life accordingly. Live it to the fullest, by knowing if you're going to go 5 years or 50 years.

    Also, I have a plan.

    I would rack up a bunch of dept and live it up during my time, but then also get a huge life-insurance plan to offset it all.

    You could also say good-bye to everyone and that's it.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Arron,

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Amanda says:

    That's a really hard question to answer, I wouldnt know what to do.

    Sometimes i wish i knew when i was going to die, because then i get everything i want to do in life over with and live life to the fullest untill the time i leave (pass) away.

    But then again, I rather not know. Because i would be panicing and not living my life the way i want to because there wouldnt be a point.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Amanda,

    Thanks for sharing!

  • aman sharma says:

    i want to know that what is my age. when will i die. in my future life can i become a rich man or not…

  • Kim says:

    I have been researching this topic for a paper that I’m writing. After reading this page I felt compelled to state my own opinion even after a lapse of three years.
    I wouldn’t want to know. I feel like the knowledge would weigh me down and have negative effects on everything I did. I have some pretty high hopes for my future and if I knew I’d never be able to reach them then I would end up wasting the little time I did have left trying to prove that I could. Knowing you’re going to die is natural but so is fighting to live. I am only human and I can only take so much, knowing when I’ll die is not one of them.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    aman,

    Thanks for sharing.

    Kim,

    Interesting with the research! Also, thanks for sharing your opinion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *