Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Semi-Coherent Thoughts on Death and Dying

Today is more or less our first day of going back to some semblance of routine. I say more or less because it isn't exactly routine yet. I still have chores to do such as clearing out the Christmas ham that she won't ever be having after all and tending the small herd of semi-feral cats we've inherited.

What always strikes me is how little we really leave behind us. In the end it comes down to returning Netflix videos and cancelling accounts. For most of us our greatest claim to immortality will be the credit card offers that will continue arriving years after the rest of the world has forgotten we ever existed. I've been through this enough times to know that dying is the surest path to a four-star credit rating.

This death has been different for me in that it isn't me who has been so greatly affected. I already said goodbye to most of the people who ever loved me years ago. I'm sad and I will miss this lady but her passing hasn't left a huge hole in my life and she didn't take most of my history with her, nor do I carry the memories of most of hers. It's been difficult because she took my husband's, one of the few people left on this planet I feel connected to.

I had to watch him say goodbye to the last remaining person who shared his history and understand completely how that feels. I think it may be more painful than going through it myself. I've had 25 years to get used to my disconnectedness so I'm sure time has softened the edges but it's not exactly the sort of thing you forget.

The process of dying is not something I look forward to but being dead doesn't trouble me much because I think it's most likely I will simply cease to exist. Nothing too scary there, kind of sad but basically it just means I won't be around to grow more flowers, someone else will though so no major loss. What scares me is leaving my better half behind to cope by himself. The world is an ugly place and it's particularly ugly to disposable people.

That includes the majority of the worlds' population. Religious folks like to put a different spin on things, claim we are all "special in God's eyes". They talk the talk but they almost never walk the walk. Most of us are disposable people, bodies to be valued as consumers or worker bees or to fight our wars and don't forget to fight for our causes such as protecting the rights of the unborn. Fuck 'em once they're born but by God we're going to make certain they get born. We have to insure enough are born to keep up the supply of bodies to use or convert for our causes.

I'm not religious and this puts it all in a very different perspective for me. Every single life has value because much as I hate to break this down for you...this may well be all we get. I can't just shrug it off and say "oh well, now she's in God's hands" because that's bullshit. Convenient, self-serving bullshit. It makes some people feel better to believe this, more importantly it makes it easier to justify treating others in any way they find convenient.

Okay, I'm rambling a bit. I'm still walking around feeling slightly surreal. I think what I'm trying to say is don't worry so much about the afterlife, start worrying more about THIS life. We've become numb to the numbers, too many people suffering and dying every day so we don't even think about it much, it's overwhelming. Stop and pick one of that number, any one, and really think about what it would be to be them or to be one of their loved ones left behind. Walk in their shoes for one minute. Do this every day.

If we could ever get every single person on this planet to do this for one minute of every day I think we might actually be able to make some progress as a species. Yeah, I know, I'm dreaming. It will never happen. So now you understand why I'm not so troubled by my own mortality. Sometimes leaving a bad situation is the better option.

5 comments:

pesu said...

I been waiting for this like a child for Santa. Nice to hear your unique voice again! "Went" all the way to Africa to learn where it's coming from. :)

Although, I have accepted my eventual death as a natural phenomenom, there are still occasions when I feel uneasy about it. I also accept, that my life propably is not anything special or sacred. It just like any another mamal coming to the end of it's life expectancy and doing excatly what the "nature" demands from all of us animals. When that day comes, I wish it would be as dignified as that of my father's. The old guy sat on his favorite chair, reading his favorite news paper, without anybody noticing his departure. Almost made the whole incident bareable. Too bad, that I will not meet him in the mystical heaven, though.

Vigilante said...

For me, the most unexpected and stunning realization about aging is how the depth of my love for my life partner has increased exponentially the closer the two of us come to our separate and individual 'dates'. I never would have imagined that decades ago. One of life's biggest surprises. . .

Not Your Mama said...

Another reason I dislike religion, it shields people from dealing honestly with their own mortality and that of their loved ones'.

In effect, it winds up making lives disposable. If we all had to face the possibility that THIS might be the only shot we have I think we might treat each other a little better.

Women on the Verge said...

In one of those bizarre coincidences life likes to throw at you, I had my own brush with mortality recently... not my own, a childhood friend of 30 years came about as close to dying as you can get with out actually crossing over. It certainly does put things into perspective and makes you appreciate even the snowiest of mornings... In yoga they teach you to live in the moment, to be "present", to experience each precious moment of your life to it's fullest... something I certainly plan on putting a lot more effort into now...

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