Death is something that I love and hate thinking about. It’s so perplexing that we are all here, conscious and happy in this moment—and that moment will eventually be gone. There will someday be nothing or an extreme change of the “something” we are. Whatever it is, we know it is the unknown and that it is likely to be painful. Is there a worst way to die, though?
Hope&Fears wondered this and the results are interesting. They asked some experts in death and horror, whose thoughts on “the worst” are divided into two groups: some see soul-death, where your insides have died as a result of a betrayal or some such trauma, as super bad while others see years on respirators, stuck in a hospital as the worst-worst. When you think about it, both of those are kind of the same since you’ve lost all power—but are still alive. Yeesh. That’s frightening.
The best answer has to be the first one in the story which is from Dr. Katherine Ramsland. She’s a murder expert and works in forensics: she should know what makes people scared…yet, she doesn’t.
The answer to your question is complicated. Each person fears something that’s individual to him or her, and each person has a pain tolerance level that could differ from others. Some would be in terror of being buried alive, while others might cite breathing water into their lungs, freezing, burning, or being slowly tortured or dismembered while alive. Some think the worst death is to be helplessly kept on life support and medicated for years as they waste away. I don’t have an answer, because each person must answer this for him-or herself.
That’s the thing: it is extremely subjective. Everyone has their own fears and desires, even in relationship to death. These things all scare me, yes, but I think what scares me the most—what I consider the worst way to die—is to die alone. This isn’t just the solitary thing either: it is that you are dying and no one else knows. It’s like you are choking and no one notices or no one can do the Heimlich. If you get in a car accident in the middle of nowhere, without witnesses or saviors, you are going to die alone. That’s horrible. It is that no one can help ease you into it, helping you out of your life as well as people helped you into their life. It’s the mute part, the inability to communicate your feelings and pain, in your time of need. To die without anyone knowing you are dying is worse to me than people not knowing you are dead. We all want to feel comforted and special. I don’t think that goes away when we die.
People love saying that quote, “We enter the world alone, we leave the world alone.” That’s a lie. You enter this world with your mother, at the least. When you die? There is no companion. That to me is the most horrifying aspect of death. I’m fine navigating the Nether Realm by myself—I just want an exit committee to see me off.