Thoughts On Death

Our family has been touched by death these last few weeks. It has sparked a flurry of emotions in us all – emotions so deep and diverse that I could blog about them until the end of the year and still not have covered everything. Yet none of them matter an iota when it comes to the finality of death. We can scream and shout, cry and call all we want. Death is death and it’s not going to bring that person back.

A death inevitably leaves so many unanswered questions. Why? How? But what if? Could we have done more? Did we do too much? The list stretches over the horizon. Death is as cruel as it is arbitrary. It makes no sense. But it falls upon the living to try and pick up the pieces and attempt to carry on as best they can. Pick up the pieces of the life that has just been extinguished. And pick up the pieces of the lives still being lived.

Death changes the living. Some for the better, some for the worse. It necessitates change and some are better at that than others. It can end lives, effectively turning the bereaved into walking corpses themselves. They can walk, talk and their chests rise and fall. Yet they are as bereft of life as those they buried or burned. Death is a callous thief and if you allow it to, it can steal your life away from right under your nose.

It can inspire and motivate. Those left behind can go on to greater things, reach heights and attain goals they never thought possible. It can be in order to emulate the dead person, to become more like them. Or it can be in order to avoid becoming like them. Death is neutral, passive and final. Yet it is a kick start, a jolt, a new beginning for so many. Death begets death or life; it offers despair or hope. The choice is yours.

The dead have no voice yet they speak to us every second of every day. They continue to live on in our minds and memories. Some are more impactive than when they were alive. They participate in every conversation we have, they are involved in every decision we make. You don’t need a crystal ball to communicate with them. Just stop and listen; for they are here, there and everywhere.

Where do the dead go? Heaven or Hell? Paradise or Purgatory? Do they party or perish? Are they judged for their crimes and misdemeanours or do they drift away scot free into the ether? We want them to suffer. We want them to be at peace. Yet are we suffering? Are we at peace? If only we could devote the same attention to ourselves as we do to those who have moved on beyond our grasp. Death is too slippery, too cunning, too complex for our feeble minds. A Gordian knot of grief that we will never unravel.

Death breaks hearts. It shatters dreams. It burns bridges. It scorches the soul. It is fire and it is ice but either way it burns deep. There was never enough time while they were with us yet, now that they are gone, the weeks, months and years stretch before many like an unending desert of despair. To some death is freedom while it condemns others to a life sentence. Death rips up roots and tears down hopes. It cares not.

We queue to shuffle past the dead and mumble meaningless words to those they left behind. We are sorry. Sorry for their loss, sorry for their pain. But mostly we are sorry for ourselves. Sorry that when we stare at their remains we are staring at our own futures. We are death waiting to happen. It may be sudden and merciful. It may be drawn out and agonising. But it will come as surely as dawn follows dusk.

What are your thoughts on death?

48 thoughts on “Thoughts On Death

Add yours

  1. My daughters death, her suicide, has left me a different person. I was left with very few questions, as she left a note and a journal. With the words she left, I cant imagine how she stayed with us so long. So they left me with hope! Maybe, if I can give enough of myself and my thoughts to others I can give them hope. Hope that they will be able to get the help they need to stay with their families. I loved this blog thank you for touching me heart with this. Julie

    Liked by 7 people

      1. I think she would be proud and shocked. I have stepped way out of my comfort zone a few times and I know it is because of her. I got a call from a local news station asking me to talk about why Hope was so important to me. I did it. I’m pretty shy in person but I did it to show people that they are not alone and there is always hope as long as there is a tomorrow.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. “We are death waiting to happen.” Very sobering. Thanks for providing some great food for thought. I’ll need to revisit this post a few times to get the existential juices flowing…

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Death is on my mind too, Stephen. Tomorrow is the second anniversary of my father’s death. Like your post, my thoughts run the gamut. He died way too early. While I was saddened by the loss of him in our daily lives, I can’t let go of the knowledge that his death was – while not a suicide – precipitated by his knowing and willful choices. Watching him decline and make the choices he made has had a profound effect on me. I want to explore it in my blog, but I’m hesitant because I don’t want to hurt my mother. She comes from a time and a place where it isn’t right to speak ill of the dead – even when it’s the truth. I’m not often hampered by social norms, but this is an arm-wrestling match in my head. I find it quite interesting how parallel our paths (yours and mine) seem to be. But perhaps mine is a one-way connection because your writing is so good. Either way, I enjoy your daily blog immensely.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I think Death can be a beautiful gift, or a terrible event. Perspectives depend on so many things; causation, suffering, relationships…. Maybe we fear grieving more than we fear letting people go?

    As always, an excellent, thought provoking post.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. It’s been almost 18 years since my nephew was born, lived six short hours, was taken off life support and handed to my sister in law and brother in law to hold until he died. That changed the course of my life. I left my job as a burn unit nurse and went to women’s health where I take care of moms who have lost babies. It was one of the worst days in my life, yet it has allowed me to help others in a way I never could have otherwise!

    Liked by 5 people

  6. In the last 5 years I have lost my sister-in-law, my mother, my brother and several beloved pets. The worst part of it is the loneliness…the emptiness that they all left in their wake. I miss having them in my daily life. However, I did not and do not feel sorry for them, as so many do the dead. As far as I am concerned, the worst is over for them. They are back home, safe, joyful and at peace. No, I don’t feel sorry for them. I feel sorry for myself. I still have to fight all of life’s daily battles…without them. I still will have to face my own dying at some point. If I am lucky, I will die in my sleep, much better than a slow death of cancer, heart disease or some other illness, in my opinion. I don’t look forward to the act of dying, but I have no fear of death. Why should I fear going home to the One that loves me more than anyone else ever could? In a way, I envy those that have already gone on. They are already experiencing the peace, joy and love that I long for everyday. No, I don’t fear death…I just don’t look forward to the dying.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree totally. Losing a daughter, mother, brother in law, uncle, 2nd cousin, my daughters high school friend and one of her elementary friends all in the past 3 years has been rough. Three of them were suicides I used to fear death but not any more.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It has taken me a long time, a lot of studying and praying, and a lot of experience to get to where I am today. I don’t believe I have all the answers about God or death, but you are right, I do feel comfortable with what I believe. Being a nurse, and having held the hands of many dying people over the years, I think that death can be a huge blessing. It releases us from this hell of suffering.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. We will all eventually die. Learning how to live in this mortal truth has transformed me from my soul to my song.

    I have known death from a young age as I watched grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, and yes, dogs – die. And, for a long long time – even though my faith was strong –  I was so very afraid of death –  not so much the thought of me dying – for my faith was and is strong –  but the thought of the living on after that must follow when those we love leave us. That inescapable truth was made resoundingly clear in my life this year. Fear and love are forever intertwined – life teaches us this, death makes it real.

    It is not an easy truth to grasp – even for those who have watched loved ones die. When my mother died 2 years ago, I was not with her. Her death seemed surreal to me – still does at times. One moment she was there –  as I knew she always would be – and the next – I was on the other end of a phone call no one wants to make. Her death journey during Holy Week made it even more, how shall I say it, awe-some? That our ever-loving God would call home his sweet sparrow on the first day of Spring – Palm Sunday, that we would memorialize her on Good Friday, and celebrate her new life with Jesus on Easter Sunday seemed so fitting -and yet her death and our journey through it is one I still have difficulty grasping. Perhaps because we didn’t have the chance to mourn.

    I was with father when he died, just over one year later. His death remains very much alive in me – almost as much as his life continues on in I me. I was there for his last breath, I saw the light leave his eyes, and felt the life leave his body. It is a feeling that has accompanied me to bed at night, in the pews at church, but mostly when I am out walking. That my Dad would die after a hard-fought battle with cancer and the rages of sudden onset Alzheimer’s left me numb and yet completely aware of every whisper of his life. The greatest man I had ever known was gone. With his death, I was awakened to the reality of life.

    It is in death when our full humanity comes to life. In truth, life is about learning to live through death. We experience death more often than we – at least on the surface – realize. When we graduate high school and college that season of our lives dies as we enter the next stage of adulthood. When we marry our life as individuals ceases. When a relationship ends – a part of us dies – the part we had given to that other person. When we leave a job, that part of our daily life ends. And yet, with each of these deaths we are given the opportunity for new life; they allow us to let go, they cut away the ties from our past, and lead us to discover a new direction in life.

    Indeed, in the last 2 years I have experienced many deaths. It has been the most sorrow-filled time of my entire life. I have never been one who could let go of people or things –  I am loyal and committed to the end – sometimes to my detriment. Saying good-bye does not come easy for me –  and I have had to say goodbye so many times to so many people and things but sometimes we have to say good-bye to live again.

    Thank you for your thought provoking, soul searching writing! You are in my thoughts as you navigate life after death.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for such a loving response. You have certainly grown as a result of your experiences with death. I wish I had your wisdom and objectivity. I’m afraid I fear ageing and death very much. It feels like a race against time and I’m losing.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Your blog is food for thought. My father passed away in July and my best friend in March. My hope lies in my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are on a journey of faith in Him and the culmination is leaving our loved ones behind to start our eternal life with Him. More hope! I will see them again with Jesus.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve dealt with a lot of death over my life and somehow death is something I think of often. I have a daughter who struggles to live. I wonder if she’ll make it. I keep fighting to survive and live on but somedays I wonder what the point is. We all end up in boxes in the end. In life, people try to kill us emotionally by shoving us in boxes too. Eventually they get their way, don’t they?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A recent quote by Ram Das grabbed my attention recently on my social media feed, and I think it’s beautiful in its simplicity, and quite apt to pass on here: “We are all just walking each other home.”
    It was posted by a death doula, and indeed it relates most pertinently to the work she would do in her ‘day job’ – helping those with terminal illness prepare for making the transition, both in relation to organising the practicalities and in the spiritual, mental, emotional support she provides. But I love the quote mostly because it reminds me that here, this planet we inhabit, is not our real home. Were just visitors, pilgrims in a foreign land (although a very beautiful land in many ways). Something deep within testifies to this – the longing to transcend – when ‘my spirit is crying for leaving’ to quote Led Zeppelin (from Ram Das to Led Zep within the same paragraph!). And in writing and reading, and responding in the comments section we are all indeed doing this for one another ‘walking each other home’. When we chose to come in we signed up for contrast. And grief is contrast in the extreme. But in the raw stuff of life we become most real, and most connected to one another. Sending loving thoughts to you and your family just now. Every blessing xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Death is a blessing for those who believe in the Creator, and wishes to meet the Creator 😊…
    Death takes us lessons, #NOTHING IS PERMANENT.. SO BETTER Work for the hearafter too…
    Believe in GOD/Creator/Supreme/Divine, do good deeds, do Justice, and observe patience 🔥❤

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My thoughts are that death feels wrong for a reason, it is wrong and yet, many have died, including Christ. But in his rising there is hope. Deaths sting is gone, it isn’t the end but the beginning, it isn’t the will of God for a single one of us to truly die, or Christ would not have truly risen. I’m sorry for your loss, God bless you and your family with peace.

    Like

  13. Yesterday was the first year anniversary of a friend’s death and today is the birthday of said friend’s late wife. I got a notice on Facebook that today is her birthday, whereas she died 7 years ago! So death has been very much on my mind and I found reading your blog on death satisfying.

    Like

  14. Almost 20 years ago I experienced a near death experience. Completely changed the way I look at the world. Truthfully, I found it very liberating. (I think I may talk about it in one of my novels soon).
    Not that I’m ready to go swinging around to experience it again, merely for whatever reason I’m here, I’m not finished yet.

    But most recently, I finally got what I want done when it’s decided for me to exit the stage. First, I don’t want to be buried (waste of good land and resources). I wrote out that I ant to be cremated. Now what to do with the ashes. I always wanted to ride a rocket, so my son will be directed to build a multistage Estes rocket, put a little bit of ash into it, and fire it off as part of the ceremony. Speaking of the ceremony, I want it at night, under a star-filled sky. That’s always where I’ve felt closest to God. Not a bunch of people, and someone is to read from Genesis 1. Then they can send me off. I want joyous music (already got that selected). After that, for the rest of the remains, dig a hole, pour them into it, and then plant a bush in it, preferably something prickly and hard to eradicate.

    Like

  15. honestly?i am scared of death. this from someone who has tried to end their life. i wasnt scared then, but now? now I am. I dont know what the afterlife holds. that makes me fearful. xoxo

    Like

  16. I have lost my parents, my aunt, and my uncle all due to complications from obesity. My dad had a heart attack, my mom had congestive heart failure, my uncle died of kidney disease, and my aunt from complications related to her Diabetes. None of them were particularly old. None of them made it to 60 either. My dad’s death was most crushing because he was everything to me. But when my mom died it motivated me to really start caring about my health. I didn’t want to think at 34 my life was potentially half over. I don’t think the pain ever really goes away. But it can get easier to breathe and move and think again. But there is always that pang when something reminds you of that person. I find comfort in friends who have supported me all these years.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: