Dead – what a word, how final, empty and completely awful. I never understood people who said death is a part of life. It is like saying war is a part of peace, or bankruptcy is a part of property ownership. It is cold comfort that it is, currently, inevitable. I say currently because I don’t doubt that as long as humanity proceeds on a path whereby science and reason can continue to make significant advances, that the onset of death will continue to be delayed. One need only look at comparisons in life expectancy. In 1800 in London it was 28, today living to your 60s is the norm, and averages now tend to lie in the late 70s and early 80s.
I don’t think there is anything beautiful or wonderful about death, the only comfort I ever think there can be is when it is the alternative to excruciating agony. Those who consciously choose euthanasia for themselves are to be respected in that light. Beyond that though, death of those you love is a loss, a waste. It isn’t a “fact of life” or anything beyond what must be accepted, it is a cruel devastating removal of someone that is valued and loved.
The loss is noticed because you can’t talk to the person anymore, can’t hear their thoughts, share laughter, stories and experiences. That is irreplaceable because people are individuals, and the pain is only real because you have loved and lost.
You can avoid grief rather easily, be a hermit. You’ll never get close to anyone, never enjoy who they are, their mind and their sense of life, and you’ll never attend a funeral. However I don’t want that, and I value what time I’ve had with those who I have lost recently. That time is precious, and so easily wasted and frittered away on nonsense.
One point is to value memories, and to have memories to value you have to create them, live them and as you get older you can share them, smile and look back upon all those years.
Eventually technology will allow more transplants, the growth of replacement components for the body, and may even allow consciousness to remain forever intact. The desirability of this will be the subject of much debate, who wants to be conscious without a body, and who wants to be forever patched up in old age. This sets aside the typical debates about the sustainability of perpetual life and breeding. However, as lives extend it will continue to become more interesting, until, of course, I am dead.
I don’t have religion for comfort, as easy as it would be and in some moments I did wonder if those I lost could hear and see me. However, I don’t feel they are in a better place, there are no place, they are no more, as romantic as alternatives may seem (and frankly as pleasant as that seems at first). The most recent loss has also hit me about my own mortality, dying at 56 of a blood clot to the brain from a varicose vein, with cancer also spreading. She was a fit, slim, non-smoker.
I’ll do what I can to delay it all, but it is only when a parent dies young that the truth of ones own mortality is clear. Realism strikes hard, and I have to live, frittering away time is over. It is not a time to be reckless, but a time to embrace life and those who you love – for some of them will die before you, and then your time will come, and if in the moments beforehand you can reflect, then reflect upon what you had – and remember every day from now until then is all you have.
Carpe Diem has never felt so true.