The Art of Dying

Charles No Comments

Is death really a taboo in our society? It’s a strong word, taboo, and I don’t know that it’s the right one. If there is a reluctance to confront death it is just as likely that it is because we are all having such fun being alive and feeling healthy. Reaper G is a spoilsport. If we turn our faces from the old curmudgeon, I don’t know that that isn’t an entirely natural thing to do.

For all that, we owe it to ourselves to get our heads around it. It’s all about taking responsibility. We have to rehearse the deaths of those we love in our imagination if we are ever to be able to cope with them. And we have to rehearse our own death, work out how we feel about it and imagine how others will feel about it—and, yes, talk about it, prepare them.

We owe it to ourselves to preserve ourselves from helplessness and hopelessness and dependency (not to mention the well intentioned ministrations of a Cruse volunteer).

So I liked Dan Cruickshank’s encounter with death on the BBC, and I applaud another programme which, however imperfectly, deals with the subject seriously and contemplatively—with what Sister Wendy called “a breathless, a fearful wonder and joy at what will happen after death.”

There’s no definitive take on this. It’s all well beyond the grasp of reason, so let’s just clear the deck of academics. To blunder about for a bit is the best it gets.

Watch Dan blundering about here.

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