Death keeps coming closer and I’m finding it hard to maintain my sense of detachment.
I don’t like death, for all that it’s an inevitable consequence of living, for all that we’re dying from the moment we arrive here on earth. For all that I keep it in reserve as an escape option.
We are marked for death from the beginning; we are mortal, after all. Coming to terms, accepting and living with the truth of our mortality is difficult; I talk a good talk but the reality of death is harder to deal with.
Still, I wouldn’t condemn anyone to eternal life, even those I love more than life itself; it is the finite nature of our existence that makes moments precious.
And yet, I’m tired of people going. I am sick of the phone calls that let me know another one has bitten the dust. My parents’ friends are departing this mortal coil at an ever-increasing pace. It’s kind of freaking me out. Philosophical acceptance is far easier in the abstract. I don’t like the crows circling ever closer.
One of the last of my father’s friends died last night. His circle has shrunk so much it is almost non-existence. It’s a scary thing to realize your father is standing alone. It is scary witnessing his despondence.
Robert went in his sleep, no long illness, no prolonged period of distress. May we all be so blessed.
Death I think is fairly easy on the ones who’ve gone – they’ve “shucked this mortal coil”, after all – but those of us left behind feel their loss and their absence.
I’m trying to be stoic about it, in both little and big “s” ways.
Seneca makes a good point: “Has it then all been for nothing that you have had such a friend? During so many years, amid such close associations, after such intimate communion of personal interests, has nothing been accomplished? Do you bury friendship along with a friend? And why lament having lost him, if it be of no avail to have possessed him? Believe me, a great part of those we have loved, though chance has removed their persons, still abides with us. The past is ours, and there is nothing more secure for us than that which has been.”
Death is natural. We can mourn those we’ve lost without crying about the unjustness of fate. Death comes for us all, sooner or later. It is part of life we must accept.
These are good thoughts, logical and full of truth. I want to accept them wholeheartedly and for myself, I do. I think it’s easier to accept your own death when you’ve been close. However, when I try and extend philosophical equanimity to others, I start to struggle.
I am afraid.
My parents are older, beyond the average age. They have both lived longer than their respective parents. I try to remember that every day they’re still here is a gift. Even when they annoy me. Especially when they annoy me.
They are beating the odds despite some health challenges. I should be grateful for that, and I am. I’m grateful I have not had to do what so many other friends have had to do and that is bury a parent.
But I’m also aware that death is stalking them. Circling, drawing closer and it terrifies me because there is nothing to be done. I cannot halt the passage of time, cannot slow down their aging, cannot make it so death does not come to pass.
I am trying to prepare myself. To accept the loss that is inevitable. This is what philosophers recommend; practice the challenging things that may come so you’ll be ready. Practice negative visualization. Remember that death is an inevitable part of life.
I’m trying. But I don’t like it. My efforts in the specific as opposed to the general lack grace. I wish wholeheartedly, despite it being illogical and contrary to the philosophical pursuits I engage in, that they would carry on forever and I would never have to face a world where they are no longer there for me, body, heart, and soul.
Have you had much personal experience with death? Have you lost immediate family members?