The knowledge of imminent death must be far more difficult to endure than the knowledge of our own eventual death. We all know that we will definitely die one day. Some people, however, are told with certainty that they will die within a relatively short time period. For that short span of time they know that time isn’t just slipping away – it’s gushing down the drain of existence.
I’m reminded of a wonderful life-affirming passage, written by the great evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, in his book Unweaving The Rainbow:
“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?”