Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Thursday, October 30, 2014

How We Die

We are coming up to the Day of the Dead, whereby we remember those who died and celebrate rather than mourn their loss.

The above article is a fascinating inside look at how we treat death.  While the writer - as a mortician - has something of a fixation on death, she raises excellent points.  At what point do we fight our mortality?  Certainly the 35 year old cancer patient should battle like hell to recover.

But my only hope for my own passing from life into death is that I have the ability to do it more or less on my terms.  Selfishly, I want my own parents to be there to watch their grandsons graduate from high school or college.  But would I want to cling to a degraded, decaying life to watch my own grandchildren walk across a stage and get a piece of paper?  There is a line from the haunting Jason Isbell song, Elephant: There's one thing that's real clear to me/no one dies with dignity/we just try and ignore the elephant somehow.  And the truth of that line is devastating.  We fight to ignore the reality of our own mortality, and that fighting leaves us exhausted and scared.

Because we have invested death with such awesome power and because many of us no longer believe in heaven, we fear death more than ever.  The article above has a perfect anecdote about the tech dude-bro who fears his own death and screw everyone else.

I grew up terrified of my own mortality.  But as I approach 50 and my body slides into decline, I can see the merit of an expiration date.  I want decades more.  But the minute my mind starts slipping away is the minute I start to think about making my own quietus with a bare bodkin.

Happy Halloween, everyone.

No comments: