Ever think about your own death?
Not as an abstraction, but for real, as in turning in for the night and never waking up, or keeling over on the kitchen counter and being a goner just like that. I could get more graphic, but there’s really no reason for that! (Though terrible deaths happen every minute the world over; it’s not unrealistic.)
Well isn’t this a depressing blog post! Good God, it’s about to do me in and I’m the one who started it.
What I’ve been discovering is that you really have to force the issue. This fascinates me. I go to a monthly Death Cafe, and even there there’s no deep diving into the realities of how we might individually kick the bucket — and these are people enthusiastically going to Death Cafe! Truly, this intrigues me so much.
One day a particular truth hit me out of nowhere: something specific will do me in. One of countless terrible illnesses, an aneurysm, heart attack, fatal injuries from who-knows-what, murder, sepsis… I could go on because the possibilities are tragically endless, but you know what I’m saying.
Realizing that of these causes of death — there will be some specific thing, whether instantaneous, drawn-out or in between — was a potent reality check. In a good way. It took the fantasy-like aspect of DEATH down to the mundane. Death isn’t a notion, it’s a result of particular turn of events. It’s not like we’re destined to live long old ages unless some mistake happens and we die sooner than 103, or 97, or 75.
There’s no “We’re owed a long life” and anything else is bad luck, unfortunate, or a downright tragedy. Nope. We live as long we live and there’s just no telling. Of course we’re human, not unemotional robots, so we get attached to our lives and want them to keep on entertaining us. Ditto, and more so, for the people in our lives whom we want to be around as long as possible.
To never entertain the thought that any particular person could be here one minute and not the next seems, our fine selves included — well, I think it behooves us to regularly realize that no one on the planet, in your community/circle of friends and family, shouldn’t die. They’re young/they’re healthy/they’re embarking on a new venture/they got everything going for them… uh huh. And still, humans die regardless of any of it.
So what does the knowledge that “something specific will cause the end of my life” and “we’re not owed a long life” have in common? What is my point here?
Nothing profound, as it turns out. I thought there might be something tying it together, but if there is I haven’t perceived it yet.
I’ll just call it death acceptance. Our culture is so death averse; we cannot bear to let someone go without railing against it, be it vehemently or just a bit. Losing people we love with all our hearts is the most painful thing we experience as humans. But it’s not wrong. It’s just nature.
Ramblings… this is all ramblings. But I truly think that taking death out of the bubble of philosophical and into your very own sphere of existence can only help keep things in perspective and bolster our resilience in life.
Death… it’s not for the faint of heart, yet it’s in all our cards.