Thoughts About Death
Almost every weekend, some of us pay tribute to the memory of loved ones. We perform dirges and we compose elegies not only to mourn the loss of the ones we love, but also for a continuous belief in living. In a strange way, we have to gather strength to visualize hope and triumph over the shock and sadness at death. Life must live. And to support this conviction, we are organizing bigger-after parties for the funerals to show life that we are worth of living.
It is no secret that the surprising majority of us love life. Except for extreme cases of suffering and afflictions, we secretly pray that we might not die. We look to life with exceptional warmth and confidence , hoping we will be among the select few who will live and simple live. We love life for the abilities and talents it bestows on us, and we love the laughter and honor in which it holds us. We love the desires and the allure of the interdependence it rains on us. We love the expression of beauty, the lust of vanity, the challenges of aspiring, the taste of conquest and the reverence for a Creator whose love confounds us.
In spite of all this wonderfulness of living, we have only excelled in existing. More often than not, we grieve and sorrow over life. We hurt and pull each other down like crabs trying to escape from a basket. And where does this anguish stem from? From our failure to live, from failed priorities, from being unappreciative about the loftier moral and intellectual elements and notional concepts of life, and from refusing to use the faculties of learning and reasoning life has endowed us with. But more importantly, we have refused to involve death and dying in our everyday thoughts.
Living is a walk with life as it unveils and unravels its mysteries for us. One of such mysteries is death. Unfortunately, we have simply cultivated a vision of living without dying. Even though we smell and see death all around us, we are never ready to stare death in the eye. This has carved a big flaw in our attitudes. Death is a curious subject. We do not yet have knowledge about what happens to us when we draw our last breath and our hearts cease to function.
The fact of the unknown scares a number of us. We all know that our time in this world is limited, that eventually we will all die. Yet it is surprising that we strive to avoid thinking about it, much less talking about it. When others die, we secretly hope our moment will never come. But just as we look on the brighter side of issues and events in life when they happen, we could gain a lot if we started treating the concept of death the same way. Contrary to the negativity associated with death, it actually helps us to live well.
Unlike many other concepts our fathers say “death has no modesty”. It is not moved by the movements we generate or according to our timetable. It is an independent concept that “does not sound a trumpet”. It strikes without apologizing, nor bending over backwards to make sure people are comfortable with its antics. No, rather it strikes to envelope us in fear.
That is why its greatest lesson invites us to live in a state of readiness. It helps us to see or better understand the meaning of “living”. Living is not restricted to being alive. That is existence, the foundation of living. The real existence of living is found when we appreciate the limitedness of the life we have. Living is a giving that has to given back to the Creator who gave it to us. Instead what most of us find ourselves doing is chasing a “lift” to get high and striving for means to pay for a high to get us the “lift”.
Dead people cannot pick themselves up when they fail, but we who are living now can pick ourselves up and stare death in the face without fear. In honesty, we should make it the seed of our rational intelligence, without which we cannot live wholly. It has always been said that “sleep is the cousin of death”. Unfortunately, we have failed to establish a stronger connection between living and death. Every time we sleep we mimic death. That alone should inspire us to prepare for death. It should challenge us to look beyond the temporary refuge of clinging on to this life. We should actually prepare for death , we should think about death and be confident that we will triumph over it when it comes. This should inspire us to live good and fulfilling lives.
It is obvious that our failure to think of death is a grievous attitude that stems from the imperfections of our human nature. We can, however, mould our attitudes positively to cease fearing death. And when we do that, our lives will never again be the same. We will work more productively, make more music intensely, create more beautifully, relate more lively and lovingly; and worship more devotedly than ever before. And with each breath, we will revere our Creator intensely and reaffirm our faith in life.