Ever think about death? Ever think about when and why it became such a bad thing? One of my biggest pet peeves is when a death announcement includes the implication of failure: “she lost her battle with cancer” “after a long struggle, he succumbed to the disease” “she fought hard, but was finally overcome”. What? Seems to me, if we came here to be mortal, then by dying we have succeeded in our journey. Good job on that mortality thing – you lived right up until you died!
Let’s not confuse death with grief. Death is always hardest on the living because grieving is a painful process, and it happens regardless of your personal philosophical beliefs on a potential afterlife. It’s hard to have a hole in your life where a loved one used to be. Healing takes time, and it’s a process unto itself. But all of that despair is for the living, and is really about loss, not death.
I imagine death used to be considered part of the cycle of life, when we used to honor cycles. Once upon a time, we viewed time as both cyclical and linear, marking the change of the seasons, and making our age in reference to how many cycles we’d seen. Then we changed our focus to an almost entirely linear concept of time, with a beginning and an end, instead of a constant circle. This change is a reflection of our collective misogyny by ignoring the cyclical (feminine) nature of time in favor of a linear (masculine) view. Our loss. Now we are in a constant race to an inevitable end point that everyone fears.
Why do we fear death, when it’s really only hard on the living? Well, once the concept of judgement came onto the scene… and then there’s hell… who makes this stuff up? Oh right, we do. In the extensive history of human beliefs, hell didn’t show up until about 850 BCE, introduced by a guy named Zoroaster. It got muddled in with the Yahweh cult (Jewish religion), and then emphasized by Christianity, most likely because fear is a great crowd control. While many previous beliefs include some form of assessment or afterlife, they don’t include condemnation or a cosmic battle of good and evil. Trust me, this is worth some research if you have fear of judgement after death.
On top of the religious issues, we have the medical industrial complex jumping on the bandwagon. It is implied, in all the recommended screening and treatments, that if you follow their (rather expensive) protocol, you can somehow elude aging and death. No, they never outright say that, but it is most definitely implied. If it wasn’t, people wouldn’t go to the extremes of surgery and chemo. Think how much money would be lost if people no longer feared death. Let that sink in a bit. In my experience, people tend to live right up until they die, regardless of drastic medical intervention.
So let’s sum it up, shall we? We came here to live a mortal life, to experience time, aging, and eventually death, as a completely natural and expected process, then we decided it was bad and scary to age and die, so we cling to youth and life in complete defiance of the reason we came here in the first place. Only humans could screw things up this bad.
The first step out of this mess is to reconsider life and death as a natural cycle. Figure out where you get scared and stuck and why. Fear? Conformity? Just haven’t given it much thought? The only way to move forward on any topic is to bring your beliefs to light, to really be willing to dig out your own subconscious and decide what to release. Here’s a hint: If you believe something only because that’s what you were taught, it needs extra attention. If you didn’t examine and choose a belief yourself, then you are running on auto-pilot.
After we have reconciled our beliefs on death (which could take years), then we can get to the good stuff… is it really necessary? Is death more of a habit, a cultural norm? Before you completely walk away from this discussion, consider that science is currently asking that same question, with some pretty amazing results. At this point (2015), science is flirting with the idea of “curing death” through gene manipulation. Saving the moral implications for another time, it may soon be possible to step out of the cycle of life and death. Science and technology are a reflection of human consciousness; we can watch them to see ourselves expand.
Play with it a bit, the idea of death. I’ve found starting at the end helps me to clear my head.