Death is something that many people fear. Many of us fear death more than pain even though pain includes struggling and loneliness, and that is hard. Harder than death, but yet it is not feared as much.
Death scares me too, I’m not immune to this universal fear.
You don’t have to cry about dying. You can be stoic, that doesn’t make you less human. Trust me, being cold and uncaring is a more humanely accepted response than running away to the bathroom to laugh which is a response some people might have to when someone says ‘your __ is dead’ It is not a culturally correct response. Death is the sound of laughter when they crack a joke. It’s the sound of wailing when loss is felt. It’s the sound your mouth makes as your jaw moves when you smile so hard. It’s the sound of waves crashing against the earth, violently destroying everything in its wake. It’s the sound of our lives.
I haven’t experienced a lot of death in my short yet long 19 years on this planet. The first when I was too young to remember and the next was when I was supposed to be an adult.
I had no experience. I knew death existed, I was (I still am by the way) scared of death but I never knew how to cope with it. My mind was reeling from being unable to understand what death truly is. I turned to the arts-- not to God, like some people do.
I don’t have a good relationship with God, we aren’t really friends.
Great authors like Maya Angelou have written about death. She said she is afraid of her loved ones dying, not herself. Haruki Murakami said that death is not something that exists after life-- it is not separate, but a part of life. Great poets, Dylan Thomas wrote about a son begging his father to ‘not go gentle into that good night’
Many songs are about death too specifically the aftermath of it. ‘Tears in Heaven’ by Eric Clapton about his son catching a ball and falling to his death is one I keep on going back to.
I recently read a book by Yoko Ogawa. The protagonist (she was never named) was afraid of disappearing, even though she knew it was happening eventually. But once she had started disappearing, she was oddly comfortable. She was comfortable with her disappearance, with her death.
Everything fades, furniture, memories, us.
Boris Pasternak spoke of death being a ‘generic subjectivity’ because our perceptions although personal make it generic.
I found comfort in knowing that I wasn’t the only one who did not know what this foreign yet familiar concept was. I thought if these people did not know what it was how can I know? How can anybody know? Feelings make us human.
All types of feelings make us human and to be human is to know death.
Death might be the ‘eternal sleep’ but it is also colour. There is life in death because death is not separate. It is a part and parcel of life, it always has been.
I remember seeing the lightning flash while we were taking off. It was monsoon season in Thailand. Besides being absolutely fascinated by the lightning within the clouds, there is a certain element of death and life in that, and apart from listening to the song ‘Lightning Crashes’ at that moment, I thought of a phoenix rising from the ashes.
The electricity from the bolt can start a fire, burn everything to the ground-- but still grass will grow more fertile and the cycle of life will continue, absolutely intertwined with the concept of death.