I have travelled all over the world looking for two ‘folks’ God and the Grim Reaper. I found one right under my very own nose – God – or what I call The Great Mystery. I never bumped into the Grim Reaper, ever!
What I did discover about this mythical figure is that ‘we’ simply made it up. I am guessing we had to personify death, as we had to personify God so we could understand it in more human dimensions. Most cultures have had some sort of embodiment of death since the beginning of recorded history. In England we began depicting death as a skeletal figure carrying a large scythe and clothed in a black cloak with a hood. The first naming of death as the Grim Reaper occurred in 1847 and over time this brand of death really stuck, especially it seems here in North America.
I could go on about the creation of this dark and frightening image of death but suffice it to say ‘we’ simply made it up to suit whatever needs we had, be those needs religious, medical, financial, political, spiritual, or hopeful.
Now given this rather nasty figure, real or otherwise, would you want to spend any time at all with him or them?
Answer, likely not!
So is it any wonder we avoid talking about death? Is it any wonder most of we North Americans, 83%, have not got our end of life planning done? Is it any wonder we fight death at ALL costs? Is it any wonder death is viewed as the enemy? IS it any wonder the medical system sees death as a failure?
What would happen if we rebranded death and simply made up an entirely new image? What would happen if death were personified as a creative, inspiring, compassionate, grandfather like teacher?
What would happen? No really, how would things change?