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Michael Abrahams | Some thoughts on death

Published:Monday | August 29, 2016 | 12:05 AMDr Michael Abrahams

The only thing certain about life, is that it will end in death. This is a fact. No matter how invincible you feel, one day the Grim Reaper is going to come for your behind, and whisk you off to wherever he whisks people off to. Even Jesus Christ died, although according to the Holy Bible, he was resurrected and freaked the hell out of people when he walked around afterwards and showed off his wounds and stuff.

Many of us want to live to a ripe old age. Recently, an Indonesian man was declared to be the oldest living person. He is said to be 145 years old, having been born on New Year’s Eve in 1870. I wish to have a long life, but I am not sure if I want to live that long. I mean, this dude was born five years after the Morant Bay Rebellion for Pete’s sake. At that age all your friends would have become extinct, your skin will be wrinkled like a dehydrated scrotum, and parts that you would like to be erect would no longer be able to stand firmly … like your spine. Indeed, the man, named Mbah Gotho, said that he “can no longer stand living”, and even bought his own gravestone 20 years ago. His prostate must be the size of an East Indian mango. Doesn’t sound like fun to me.

Most people do not like to think about death. It is way too scary. Different things scare different people. Some are afraid of a slow and painful death. Some fear what may happen to their children if they depart this world and leave them behind. While some others fear that if they die, their significant others will be getting it on with other people, and worse, will be enjoying it.

But have you ever thought about how you would want to die? Seriously? You know that it is inevitable, so how would you want to go?
I know how I would not want to go. I do not want to feel pain. So being doused by acid, trapped in a burning building or hacked by a madman with a cutlass are not options for me. Some people, usually men, die during sex, and the concept of simultaneously “coming” and going sounds exciting. But this is not so cool for the person at the other end. When I hear about these events I usually feel sorry for the women involved. I mean, women want men to feel electricity in the air during sex, but not for their vaginas to become virtual electric chairs.

And this may make things awkward for the next man to enter the…ummm… arena. The poor guy must feel like he is playing Russian roulette.

Some deaths are just too terrifying, such as being on an airplane and knowing that it is about crash into the ocean, being mauled and eaten by a pack of wild dogs, or being tortured by ISIS. A single bullet to the head can fast track you to the afterlife with minimal suffering, but usually occurs with murder or suicide, which will complicate and magnify the grief of loved ones left behind, assuming that there actually are people who give a damn about you.

Terminal illnesses suck. I mean, that’s a real bummer, being given “x amount” of time to live. The good thing about this scenario, however, is that it gives you time to get your affairs in order, or to destroy evidence of your affairs which may have been “out of order”. It may also afford you the opportunity to achieve some of the goals on your bucket list: things you wish to do before you die.

My eldest sibling, my older sister, had a chronic illness that suddenly worsened. Her doctors gave her a few weeks to live, providing her with time to sort out her business. Not only that, but to top it off, when she died, it was the first time that I received an email from somebody who had passed away. That’s right. An email from a dead person. After she left us, her son forwarded an email from her saying, among other things, that she thought that “they could keep me alive forever”, “I am sorry I was unable to talk to anyone but if I had done, I would have asked you if you wanted me to pass on any messages on my arrival!” and “It was wonderful knowing you all, even my most annoying friends and family. I wish you and all yours all the best in the future”. I could almost hear Adele singing “Hello from the other side”. I strongly suspect that I was included in the “annoying friends and family”, so I replied to the email but she has not responded. She and my father are probably busy arguing “down there”.

- Michael Abrahams is an obstetrician and gynaecologist, comedian and poet. Email feedback to and, or tweet @mikeyabrahams.