The real question is not why I fear death, but why you do not (and by extension feel the need to ask this question.)
Let me clarify: I do not fear sudden, accidental death much. It’s a necessary risk to live a full life.
I fear all the associated symptoms with what one would call a natural death. Old age, disease, loss of mobility, mental function and senses, chronic pain, and so on.
In my view, growing old is a disease. There is nothing in modern cellular biology pointing to old age being inherent to our anatomy: emortality (life without aging) is simply a thing which evolution didn’t see fit to grant us.
And I feel cheated. As it is now, (without any major scientific breakthroughs in radical life extension,) I will probably grow to be 120 years old, 30 or so of which I will spend in some amount of agony.
I saw my grandmother die of lung cancer. It was not dignified, it was not peaceful. It was ugly and horrifying.
Death has in all human history been looming over us. Losing your grandmother is as terrible now, as it was fifteen thousand years ago.
Human nature strives to make sense of this chaotic world, and so we ask “why death?” We ask our wisest, oldest. The shamans and the sages and the priests and the witch-doctors. And they say “because magic.”
Not in those words exactly, but, something along the lines of “divine will” or “nature’s great scheme” or “the allmother call them home.”
Something to make the pain bearable. To provide some form of closure on why grandma had to die. They might even invent funeral rites, to ensure that the allmother really does get her daughter home.
And so humanity grows complacent with old age and death. The greatest calamity to befall us becomes a “fact of life.” (Notice here that it is neither a fact, as noted before with the biologists, nor is death a part of life; it is darkly humourous.)
We live in a culture where striving to stave off death is a sin. I have seen so many villains strive for immortality (or even just emortality, eternal youth,) and it being painted as a bad thing.
And even the process of obtaining emortality is painted in a bad light; whatever happened to the well of youth? Why all the human sacrifice and evil scientific progress (another pet peeve of mine: progress = evil. bull. shit. Watching the first ten minutes of Captain America: The Winter Soldier shoots down any argument in that direction.)
Immortality is demonized in popular culture: attaining it costs immoral sacrifice, it is only ever for one person, whoever seeks it is defying nature… (The naturalistic fallacy is so stupid. For one, homophobes use it to argue against homosexuality, for two, modern medicine is anything but natural, and we still see that as a good thing.)
I hear arguments that immortality is selfish. That my loved ones will die from me and I will end up depressed and wishing to die (another trope which is such bullshit: the immortal dude who wants to die.)
I say: why would I want immortality for me. I want immortality for everyone!
Then people cry “overpopulation!” “you’re selfish, what about future generations?!”
Overpopulation is easily solved, when our best scientists stop growing old. Imagine what a 400 year old scientist can do compared to a 40 year old one. We could pepper the sky with solar-power satellites and grow all our food in super-ultra-mega-efficient science-fiction farms.
And as for the “future generations,” that is the exact same argument which pro-lifers use. I am pro-life: my life. I don’t really give a crap about my hypothetical great-great-great-grandchildren, unless I am there to witness them taking their first steps.
We live in a deathist society. A culture that thinks the extinction of consciousness is a good thing.
I am the guy who thinks that the five year old kid who really just wants his grandma back, is on to something.
I fear death. I hate death. I want people to stop dying. Do you?