I have been noticing over the past several years all the signs and signals that generally we tend to be death adverse. A recent television advertisement that carries the statement Make Death Wait reminded me of our tendency to take death as a foe, something we need to delay at the minimum and usually fight against vigorously with all manner of ‘weapons’.
As I look around at the world and see all that we do to avoid ageing – plastic surgery, a shot of botox, a pinch here and a lift there – we seem to be demonstrating that we think we have some degree of mastery or power over one of life’s certain yet mysterious events – death.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love life and value it deeply. I am not interested in rushing my death at all. I whole-heartedly agree with good nutrition, good exercise, good spiritual practice and taking good care of ourselves so we can enjoy life and be able to give ourselves fully to family and friends, to our chosen work, and to our hobbies. When illness comes my way I do take the steps necessary to return to good health as quickly as possible.
However, I have noticed some things about death especially in our North American culture as I pursue a new career in the business of death, both has a volunteer hospice visitor and as a cremationist. I can distill all the activity that pops up around death to one simple sentence – don’t trust death.
First notice all that often goes on when some one you know gets the prognosis that she or he has only months or days to live. Most people opt for one or more of the following solutions:
- Aggressive allopathic treatments
- Extensive naturopathic processes
- Wild and crazy off-the-wall healers
- Radical life style changes
- Tremendous drug regimes
- Spiritual Gurus and associated mantras
When death comes knocking our culture, our health care, and alternative care services kick into overdrive! All this activity around death is telling me something.
And yes, you should all know that I have faced the loss of loved ones to death, my sister died in 1988, my father died in 2004, my brother faced and is still facing cancer to this day. My aunt faced a 2 in 10 chance of surviving open-heart surgery, friends, close friends have lost loved ones to suicide so I have first-hand experience with this issue. I understand treatment and pain management. I know what I am dealing with here so my understanding comes from very personal and direct experience.
Here is what I have come to understand.
All this activity around ageing and death is saying to me that we do not trust death. Somehow death is wrong. We mortals must be able to control it, to manage it to suit our own personal needs and agenda. We ought to be able to master death with all of our technology and knowledge.
What happens if death is right?