Facing Death

June 4, 2014 Death Awareness

Comments Off

3d render skull on black background - front viewNobody has (or will) say that facing Death is easy
by Caitlin Doughty

Caitlin Doughty is a Los Angeles-based mortician, death theorist, and the founder of The Order of the Good Death.

Recently, a follower of the Order made a comment to the effect of “it’s wrong for you to make it seem like working with death is easy.”

Easy? Record-skip. No. Dear god no. There is a difference between making facing death look worthwhile, and making facing death look easy.  Hell no it isn’t easy— but it is worthwhile.  If you’re doing it right (and by “right” I mean not attempting to deny death) coming to terms with your own mortality will be the most difficult thing you ever do.

After finishing War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy began to read the great philosophers, trying to summon the desire to endure the death and destruction that plagued human existence.  He wasn’t an old man. He was young and healthy, a successful writer with a wife and family, at the highest point of vigor.  He just could not accept that death could (and very easily would) take it all away from him.

Tolstoy wrote in his “Notes of a Madman” that he awoke at two o’clock in the morning and was suddenly “seized by a despair, a fear, a terror such as I have never known before.” Here he questions himself:

This is ridiculous,’ I told myself. ‘Why am I so depressed, what am I afraid of?’

‘Of me,’ answered Death. ‘I am here.’

‘A cold shudder ran over my skin. Yes, Death.  It will come, it is already here, even though it has nothing to do with me now… My whole being ached with the need to live, the right to live, and, at the same moment I felt death at work.  And it was awful, being torn apart inside. I tried to shake off my terror. I found the stump of a candle in a brass candlestick and lighted it. The reddish flame, the candle, shorter than the candlestick, all told me the same story: there is nothing in life, nothing exists but death, and death should not be!”

Tolstoy thought he was a rational man.  When I started working in the funeral industry I thought I was a rational woman.  But faced with the understanding of death in its true, raw form, there is sometimes nothing to do but vomit, spit, cry.  As we both did, him in a dark room at an inn in Arzamas, Russia, me at a crematory in Northern California.

Even today it is difficult for me to understand those who insist they don’t need to think about death because, “I’ve thought about it, it’s really no big deal for me.” If you have really thought about it, mourned yourself, all you love, the human race, the world, then you must feel as Tolstoy’s man before death.  Trembling. Terrified. Humbled.

But that doesn’t mean it is not also a glorious thing.  Making us more self aware, making us stronger creatures, creatures that live and rejoice in the fierce realities of life.

May we all come to the point where we see dying as Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran did.

For what is it to die, but to stand in the sun and melt into the wind? And when the Earth has claimed our limbs, then we shall truly dance.”

To dance with death is a not an uptight waltz, but a frenetic dance, full of ups and downs, swirls and violence.  I would never pretend it was anything but.  If you are attempting to face your own mortality you should take your own stability and mental health very seriously.  I do. And I would never tell you otherwise.

Disclaimer: Use of the information and data is to bring awareness of death and dying. Spirare does not own the information or profit from its use. Source: The Order of the Good Death

Words of Inspiration

"I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it."
Mark Twain
“They say that a part of you dies when a special Loved One passes away...I disagree...I say a part of you lives with your Loved One on the other side.”
Daniel Yanez

Death Awareness

We welcome any suggestions of articles relating to death and dying that you might want to see on Spirare website. 

Please Help spread awareness.

“The fear of death comes from limited awareness.”   Deepak Chopra

Popular Blogs

  • When Your Loved One’s Last Wish Was ‘No ...

    by on September 22, 2017

    When Your Loved One’s Last Wish Was ‘No Funeral’ by Tré Miller Rodríguez Over the past year, I’ve experienced several losses that, at the request of the decea...

  • At Home with Dying

    by on July 28, 2017

    At Home with Dying by Merrill Collett Most people would rather die at home, surrounded by familiar sights and cared for by our loved ones, than in a hospital...

  • Emil Cioran

    by on July 19, 2017

    "The deepest and most organic death is death in solitude, when even light becomes a principle of death. In such moments you will be severed from life, from love...

  • Paul Marechal

    by on July 10, 2017

    "Death is the flow from silence and love to deeper silence and greater love."

  • Dying to Know

    by on June 25, 2017

    Dying to Know Bringing Death to Life by Andrew Anastasios We're all dying. Sooner or later we're going to croak, kick the bucket, give up the ghost, cash i...

Translate »