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 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.

In MemoryI 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?

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  1. Interesting subject and comments Mark. Grieving is a very personal experience for each of us. There is no rule book or there shouldn’t be at least. Some feel it should be a very swift process and then forgotten but you cannot put a time table on it. I have lost a few people in my lifetime and can say each circumstance is different. example: when I lost my parents and other elders, it was difficult but an expected thing due to age. Igrieve of course however very differently than I do over the loss of my son eleven years ago. The grieving is ongoing it seems and at times still very intense. Will be interested in reading others’ comments in this subject.

    1. Thanks for the comments Elaine. I know I can only speak from my own experience and it colors who I am still to this day. I am sorry for your losses also.

  2. You are so right Mark… I believe we live in a society that in large does not want to feel anything uncomfortable, and they especially do not want to feel pain. I mean, who really wants to right? We have become very good at pushing those feelings away, hiding them. The problem is for most people that will become a very dangerous place and it will eat them up inside. We must grieve, if we are to ever have freedom! Thanks for sharing this part of you! It is very eye opening.

  3. Thank you for stopping by my blog, because I am so grateful to have found yours. I write a lot about death. I FIRMLY believe that our physical body dies but that our spirits live. My father passed away 12 years ago and I have had numerous messages from him that i believe without a doubt. First, your heart has to be open to receiving. If you are interested in reading about them please read them on my blog. Glad to have met you Mark, Laurie

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