Saturday Night Thoughts – Death
I have been thinking about death a lot recently. But, not in any sort of morbid or evil way. At least I don’t think so, just considering the ramifications of death as it is generally accepted that the bodies of each of us will die physically at some point and cease to function. From a cultural and societal point of view, my mind has been pondering. I speak from experience of being close to the dying process and death. As a young man in my mid-twenties I watched someone very close to me, and the same age, go through the process of dying with a terminal illness, eventually succumbing to the disease. I was there through the diagnosis and holding her hand as I stood beside her bedside when death finally came.
There is an interesting article detailing some cultures rituals regarding death found on PBS.org entitled Death: Cultural Traditions by Judy Huang. Another article on the TED Blog entitled, 11 fascinating funeral traditions from around the globe by Kate Torgovnick May based on the TED talk from Kelli Swazey: Life that doesn’t end with death. All these different rituals and customs from different cultures are fascinating in and of themselves. It has gotten me to thinking about our American society and our view and rituals towards death.
American culture seems to me to be more of one that often says, the best thing you can do with death is to ride off from it. (P.S. – I borrowed that line from the book, and movie, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.) Is this an American societal acceptance that you (basically I am speaking about men, here) never let others know the impact of death? We attend a funeral, dressed in black, speak reverently of the dead and then we go back to our normal lives.
As is observed in other cultures there are no rituals in America that lasts from days to months allowing those grieving to celebrate the life of the deceased and come to terms with the death of a loved one. We put on a solemn appearance for a couple of hours one afternoon to attend a funeral and/or memorial service and that seems to be it. We applaud and congratulate those who go back to work the next day and appear to get on with their lives immediately after the loss. We say they have an inner strength and are impressed with how well they are dealing with the dying part of life.
I am not saying we should wallow or stay in our grief, but the fact that others often simply chose to ignore what has happened seems absurd. We are not allowed to grieve, or celebrate the life and death, of a loved one unless it is done in private or as part of a larger scheduled and manipulated public event. Again, not that these are bad things, they offer a community of support. But the individual grieving process is not to be shared publicly, especially by men, just move on. Is that because we are uncomfortable with others grief and pain? It takes a strong person to face their own mortality, and that of the ones they love, not shying away from the reality. I believe there are worse things than dying.
I understand this is a rambling post and I thank you for sticking me with to the end. But hey, that is what my posts, Saturday Night Thoughts, are all about. A complete willingness to go wherever my thoughts might take me even when I may not want to go there. Thanks for going along on the ride with me. Now what are your thoughts?