First understanding of mortality
Tue, 7 Dec 1999 09:17:13 -0800

Thinking about Toy Story 2 and its presentation of issues regarding mortality, I was reminded of my own feelings as a child when I first realized that I would someday die.

I don't remember how old I was, somewhere around pre-school age, but I still remember the sensation of shock and disbelief. Most children learn the basic concepts of life and death while young, but to then realize that they applies to yourself as well is something which, for me at least, came suddenly and with tremendous impact. I had always had a sense of myself as a growing, changing, improving being, with unlimited opportunities ahead "when I grow up". To suddenly realize that there is a barrier, a wall, a limit beyond which everything I am would be destroyed, was a crushing blow.

My wife tells much the same story, that she can remember the feeling of learning that she would die, and how horrified and frightened she was when this understanding burst upon her.

Is this a universal phenomenon? Does everyone experience this as a traumatic moment, after which you know that your days are numbered?