Friday, 23 September 2011

Death, the great motivator - an appreciation

I wish I could talk about death to friends and family. Not necessarily my death in itself, although I wouldn’t blanch at a discussion of burial v. cremation, organ donation, funeral service, music (Forever Young, please) and the like.
I would definitely express the hope that when my time comes the Law and the medical profession have reached agreement on how Britons can shuffle off their mortal coil with the minimum of pain and indignity. And that’s going to be a good while yet.
No, even raising the subject in general terms prompts accusations of being morbid and depressed.
Not so long ago the hearse was as familiar on our streets as milk wagons and coal carts. In cossetted 21st century Britain increasing longevity seems to have made dying so alien to the natural order that it mustn’t even be allowed to creep into our thoughts.
But the way I see it, the inevitability of death adds piquancy to life; it does when you’re 66-years-old.
The Grim Reaper was just as influential as TripAdvisor in my recent holiday to Verona and first-time visit to Venice.
When as a child on being asked my age, I’d reply something like “seven and a quarter, seven and a half” such was the way time moved so slowly.
As a teenager and into my twenties, the passage of time accelerated but to never a speed that might suggest one day I would die. From then I was too busy to care holding down a job and bringing up a family.
Not even losing my last parent and technically becoming an orphan brought home that I too would one day cease to be.
Retirement at about the same time my children started jobs was a sort of passing the baton. It gave me time to reflect that I wasn’t immortal.
I don’t believe in an afterlife. The idea of making way for the next generation is rather appealing after a good run.
It’s said: “Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life.” I get more strength from the reflection: “Yesterday wasn’t the last day of my entire life.”

4 comments:

  1. I spend a lot of time thinking about death. I do this because i have had a few experience's of contact with a loved one after they have passed over? I did not initiate this contact.

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  2. Yes, I agree.l I'm 64, ex-academic back in civvy street with time to reflect on such matters after a long time of shaking off the very thought that I might die. I would like a death party: all the people I love would be invited; great band; champagne and then speeches etc. before I just press a button and miraculously dissolve into nothingness Sx

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  3. Merlene, I hope you'll agree that thinking about death provides the contrast with which to illuminate the beauty of life. I hope your contact brought comfort.

    And S, thanks for your thoughts; I hope your guests will have to wait a long time to celebrate your life. When the time comes I rather like the idea of going up/out in a large firework. GC

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  4. Death is for the poets, not for normal human beings.

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What do you think? GC