Friday, June 1, 2007


I had two funerals this week. One on Monday. That one was long time coming and expected. The other was on Wednesday. That was unexpected. That's about the most funerals I have had in three days. I hope it is a record I never break. Death is always a sad thing, even when it is looked forward to, or wished for. It is sad because of death's finality. There is no next time or future. Death is closure whether you want it or not.

Despite its sadness and miserableness, I welcome funerals. I welcome it because it forces me to confront my mortality. When I see the pale, sometimes a faint yellow, skin of the deceased in the coffin or a body wrapped in white muslin cloth, I know that I too shall be like that one day. Maybe even tomorrow. I remind myself that this feeling of immortality that I feel - when I expect tomorrow, when I make plans a year from now, when I say, 'see you soon!' - is illusionary. I will die as surely as I have lived.

And yet I fear death still - not as much as I used to, but I still do. I know it is irrational but that is what happens to us when confronted with something so huge, so final and completely unknown. But most of my fear is not for myself. It is for all the people I love that I will be leaving and no longer be able to help, hold, laugh and love together. Sometimes I am reconciled with death when I manage to convince myself that life too is so huge, final and completely unknown. Whether there will be any difference between the two, I shall know after I am dead.


Noreen said...

Which is worse, an expected or unexpected death?

Anonymous said...

I would say the unexpected death is worse. When one can see death in the distance, preparations can be made: farewells and forgiveness can given, hugs exchanged, things said, etc. There is still time to 'tie up the loose ends', or as many as one can. When one is taken suddenly, there is no opportunity for all this. Sometimes there is no closure for those with relations with the deceased because there was no opportunity. But the expected death is worse for the soon to be deceased. Even though in truth, we all live knowing we shall die, there is I think a horror difficult to overcome when you know pretty much that you are going to die soon but not knowing when either.