Death has always been part of life. In this world of duality: hot and cold, good and evil, young and old; death is inextricably linked to life.
Now that I have entered my mid-thirties I have experience death on many levels, the death of pets, friends, and relatives. I have also experienced death in a slightly more abstract way, the death of athletic careers, dreams, and relationships.
What I have found is that from deaths something else grows, life continues to flow on. As Robert Frost once said, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.
Coping with Death on Many Levels
Although death can be the cause of deep grief, to the point that one sometimes wonders if they can continue without the person or thing that they have lost, there is one constant about life “it goes on,” we go on. The sun continues to rise and the new day brings another host of challenges.
But how does life continue for those of us left behind when a loved one dies? The short answer may be slowly and painfully. Although the connection may not be personal, I have begun to wonder how celebrity deaths continue to haunt the living. How do we make peace with the departure of our heroes?
My adolescence was shaped in the 1990s when people were still trying to come to grips with the AIDS epidemic. The very public deaths of musical icons like Kurt Cobain and Tupac Shakur which forced us to ponder death at an early age just as Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and Janis Joplin did for my parent’s generation.
With the recent revelation of Gordon Downie’s terminal diagnosis, the death of musical legends like Prince and David Bowie death continues to shake the world of music. The recent passing of Muhammad Ali, a figure who transcended sports and generational divides, once again forced many people to come to grips with their feelings about death.
I wonder how the new generation will come to grips with life’s grim finality. Is there anything that makes death easier for subsequent generations? Do all of our technological developments that supposedly enrich and definitely extend our lives, somehow make it easier to cope with death?
Death and Community
The only insight that I have had into this has been from the amazing online communities that I have found while writing my book, Death: An Exploration. I have found that there are people who have never met each other, but who have been tremendous at helping others who are also grief-stricken. The support that these communities can offer may not be the same as having a close core of people surrounding them but there is some comfort there.
We will all inevitably experience death on many different levels. Death will always be a part of life, but it is how we view it that makes the difference in how well we cope with this painful enigma.