The fear of death is an interesting thing.
Most people are completely ignorant of their fear of their own death. The fear is hidden so far beneath the surface, it can be completely ignored. Whenever I've had conversations with friends and the concept of fear of death comes up, they all have told me pretty much the same thing...that they are not afraid of dying themselves. They have reasons...such as that they are going to heaven, or that they have already had a close encounter with death and so are not afraid now. But I have severe doubts about that.
This last year I came into direct contact finally with the fear of my own death. Previously I would have had similar comments as those of my friends, not believing that I have any real fear of my death. But I know better now. I have consciously tried to welcome the idea of going through my own death experience, such as was described by Ramana Maharshi. I was astonished when the fear presented itself.
I came to my own fear on two or three different occasions. Each time I tried to allow myself to go inwards into my own death, but my mind (my ego?) would not allow it. The feeling was very real. There was a sense of complete annihilation of myself. On one of these, there was also a fear related to the fact that I would be taking myself away from my family, not a fear for myself but for my kids and wife to have to go on without me - which makes me realize just how real the experience felt. I truly believed that I would be gone, never to return.
I went through three of these experiences, and none of those times was I able to follow through the feelings. I know that I would not have died really, but my mind believed I would when I was going through it. It's hard to describe how real it was.
It made me realize some things. First, that this fear is here inside me, even if it is deep down and typically unrecognized. Second, that I could not bear to go through the experience on my own will. I don't know what that means, maybe there is no way to go through it but by grace, by some divine intervention.