Death: a fearful thing?


I was afraid.

Each time I experienced gastrointestinal changes, I tried not to worry. But I did.

Even when I tried to get this worry down on paper, I failed to finish two consecutive sentences. One sentence if I allowed my interior monologue to perform a James Joyce oration without punctuation.

That was not me, however. I usually didn’t let chaos overwhelm me. My path of life had on occasion been paved with chaos, so I was well-used to it.

Lost my only sibling.

My step-dad.


Two cousins.

Diagnosed with a neurodegenerative illness.

Diagnosed with a hospital-acquired superbug.

All in the space of 3 years.

Need I go on?

If my first name was Chaos, everyone would have believed it. In fact, some called me jinxed.

They had every right.

“Strength does not come from physical capacity.
It comes from an indomitable will.”
(Mahatma Gandhi)

Within Gandhi’s description of strength, however, was fear also, and within that fear, there was the indignity. That superbug wasn’t meant for me. I wasn’t an elderly person, I didn’t live in unclean housing and I hardly ever used antibiotics.

I could’ve continued listing pessimism, unhappiness and disaster, only, I unconditionally refused to. Clostridium Difficile indeed wasn’t mine to get or to give in to.

I fought my way back. I am not now, have never been and will never be one to give up without at least trying five different ways to solve the riddle that is life.

I wasn’t ready to go. I had lived enough for two lives, but I wanted a third.

“You have power over your mind – not outside events.
Realize this, and you will find strength.”
(Marcus Aurelius)


I found the above text in one of my old notebooks and was struck at how I felt back then. I was 35 and realized that I had more years in front of me than those already lived. I had gone through a few physical hiccups since the superbug, and looking back, I sailed through them without as much as a break in the waves.

I’m 41 now, and somewhere along the line, my attitude changed. I’m still not ready to go. Some of the pains MS has saddled me up with – facial pain or trigeminal neuralgia – has willingly sent other people to their death. I, however, will not make my mum childless because of my inability to deal with physical pain.

People are the only living creatures who are so preoccupied with dying, death, wakes and funerals. I rather refer to it as “passing over.” Where to? I have no idea, I just know it’s the next stage in life, and it’s not like Dante’s Inferno.

Whenever I used to talk with one of my friends about sorting out life-insurance, writing wills and preparing for the next stage, she said “I don’t understand why you want to do this. My parents or family will do all this for me. Isn’t it a bit morbid if you want to get  life insurance to pay for your funeral?!”

I sighed, thinking “Of course, it is morbid. You don’t prepare for this when you’re immortal, and you certainly don’t have time to do it after the actual event!”

When that time arrives, I will be able to look back at a life well-lived, without any regrets.

“In the depth of winter,
I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
(Albert Camus)

“There is no end.
There is no beginning.
There is only the passion of life.”
(Federico Fellini)

close up photography of vintage watch
Photo by Matej on

©Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner are strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

12 thoughts on “Death: a fearful thing?

  1. Dead is a part of life, and when it comes, try to embrase it peacefully. But, in the mean time: enjoy life. Even if it’s difficult, sometimes. With our love, we will make the world our garden. Love you. Mom.

  2. One of my friends in work and I had a very frank discussion about death one day. He believes that our bodies are vessels and when we did we pass into the next one, hence where the sense of deja vu comes from. I have to say I liked that thinking and am going to adopt it, someone else can have my wonky leg for a while :)

    1. That’s a good way of looking at things, might just adopt that view also. It’s hard knowing of course because nobody ever died and then came back, save from the big man in the bible. And not ready to blatantly believe that view :D

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