What It’s Like To Witness Death

Alden Tan
5 min readApr 11, 2016


It was surreal.

I came home in the morning, at like 6AM after work at this shitty bar where I worked as a waiter. All the lights in the house were switched on. My brother came into my room crying and said our dad has passed on.

I ran to the master bedroom and saw my mom crying on the bed. My dad’s lifeless body was laid there, motionless because he was never going to move again. Cold, because I touched him for the last time.

At least he went peacefully in his sleep. I was told he was happily watching the one of World Cup (it was 2006 then) games the night before.

But who can really tell what went through his mind. Who can really know he was happy at his last moments? The effects of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) had accumulated over two years then. Any victim with the disease then would have had lost bodily functions practically all over by then.

I think he must felt ready to go anytime.

All in all, there’s just no describing death, or life for that matter. No words can perfectly be used. You feel it’s unreal.

It was a series of questions.

As I sat there crying, I couldn’t help but keep asking myself a few things.

“Why all the unhappiness Alden?”

“Why all the anger Alden?”

“Why did this have to happen?”

“Is this it?”

Despite all that, I knew the answers will never come, at least, not a clear one. It will never be clear again.

You can never predict life. Life is a mystery. That’s a fact. There’s no point trying to find the answers. Even if you do, you can bet things are going to change every single day.

It was a time when nothing else mattered.

Did the money in my bank account mattered there and then? No.

Did all the petty conflicts and shit I went through in life mattered then? No.

Did working hard for the material things I wanted then mattered? No.

Did life itself matter then? In that case, no.

When you witness death, especially this close to you, a lot of shit cease to matter. You realize how real things become. You realize how real life is. You realize death is the only guarantee in life. Nobody can escape.

With that in mind, everything you do in between ultimately doesn’t matter. No, I don’t even think your so-called legacy for your grand kids or whoever does matter. You have to go first. You gotta die.

What really does matter then? You can’t ever know. You just have to live your life in your own terms. And even then, you gotta keep figuring it out since life is just so unpredictable. Hopefully, you’re happy for the most part.

It was regret.

Truth be told, I was never close to my dad. I didn’t spend much time with him when the disease came. It was kept from me and my brother, to protect us I guess.

I remember going out a lot to do my own shit when I knew, deep down I knew that I should be spending time with him.

But I didn’t.

So I felt horrible. I kind of hated myself for a while. Regret makes you feel twisted inside as you keep questioning who you really are, especially when you wonder if you’re the good, or decent person you think you are.

Death makes you question yourself a lot.

It was fear.

I don’t say this a lot.

But sometimes, I feel like I don’t want to ever get married or have kids for fear that death will take them away before I do. So to all my close friends, I guess now you know why I tend to fuck around so much.

I may be ready and fearless enough to deal with that again, since I’ve been through it, but that doesn’t mean I want to.

Death makes you think twice. A lot. You tend to fear stuff now. And it’s not something you can really control because life is just that, a mystery.

It is pride.

But that’s not to say I lead a paranoid life today. In fact, I think I pull it off really well.

Since you know death will come eventually, and randomly at that, you just tend to live the way you want and not worry about a god damn thing.

Death makes you hurt at first, depressed even.

Then you do what it takes to move on. Everybody has their own ways to do it. Some of us take it harder and longer. Me, it was alright I guess.

Then death makes you proud of yourself.

You feel a sense of pride as you think you gone through the worst, something the average person in life has yet to. |

You feel like you know more because you were this close to solving life’s mysterious ways.

You feel you got your shit together because you know what is important now.

You feel elevated, because you know what you truly want and start to deviate from the norm as norm was what you tried and it didn’t make you happy anyway.

You feel happy today, because you just have to try.

It is strength.

I’ve honestly stopped crying at almost all the wakes and other death I witness today.

That is what it’s like to witness death.

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My name is Alden Tan and I’m sick of bullshit in the personal development space thanks to the pretentious people out there. I love writing and I’m also a Bboy.


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