Do you have a fear of being buried alive? For me it's probably more of a scary thought than something I truly worry about on a regular basis. But just imagine for a moment waking up and realizing you're in a box several feet underground. There's not much room for you to move around in or adjust your position, you're pretty much stuck there until you die. Any efforts on your part to try to save yourself are really just a waste of energy. And this would probably be the hardest part about it: your body will immediately go into panic mode and you'll start pushing as hard as you can with your hands and trying to kick with your feet. But being in such a tight enclosure and lying on your back, you really don't have enough leverage to really accomplish anything. So which is the best course of action, to keep kicking and pushing for hours until you die? Or to attempt to control your body, to tell yourself to relax, accept your fate, close your eyes and realize there's nothing you can do?
It seems to me that the best option is to try to calm yourself down and lay there peacefully, because the more you try to push yourself out of that position the more frustrated and panicked you're going to become. But it could be that it's simply impossible for most people to just lay there and take it calmly, perhaps our instincts would take over and not listen to our mind telling the body to relax. It would be a struggle not so much to escape, but a struggle to calm the mind and body.
It might seem silly today to think about the prospect of being buried alive but there was a time where it was a real possibility.
Before the advent of modern medicine, the fear was not entirely irrational. Throughout history, there have been numerous cases of people being buried alive by accident. In 1905, the English reformer William Tebb collected accounts of premature burial. He found 219 cases of near live burial, 149 actual live burials, 10 cases of live dissection and 2 cases of awakening while being embalmedIt also mentions that people who could afford it arranged to be buried in a "safety" coffin, which had bells and other means to alert those on the outside they were still alive, along with pipes delivering oxygen. It's a good idea, however wouldn't it just be easier to wait a couple days before burying the body?
Snopes.com has some very sad stories involving premature burial, many of them during epidemics where people were dying left and right from various illnesses.
Some instances were especially heartbreaking. In the 1850s, a young girl visiting Edisto Island, South Carolina, died of diphtheria. She was quickly interred in a local family's mausoleum because it was feared the disease might otherwise spread. When one of the family's sons died in the Civil War, the tomb was opened to admit him. A tiny skeleton was found on the floor just behind the door.
There's an organization "Monochrom: Experience the Experience" which did a project on being buried alive, you could experience it yourself for 15 minutes! Sounds like a blast. More information and pictures here.