Death is certain…

Death is certain.  That’s the only thing you know for sure.  If you’re smart enough, or rich enough, or unemployed, you can even avoid taxes.  

You were born and from that moment you began your path to your ultimate goal: being dead.  It seems to me that being dead is no big deal.  It makes no sense to me that in the infinite vastness of the universe or multiverses God would be vindictive.  Vindictiveness is a human thing, not something that even we are proud of.  It’s hardly something to put on your CV.  Surely God, or any god worthy of the term, knows all about me: about my weaknesses, understandings, perceptions, and humanity.  I’m pretty convinced that He’d only really be interested in my humanity.  In my eyes He cannot be less than any loving parent: recognising His child as distinct from its weaknesses and failures.  Anyway, by definition I can’t know anything about any of this so the only thing I can do is live my life, or more accurately manage the journey to my death.   The first part of this journey is easy enough.  It has its ups and downs, maybe more of one than the other, but it is what it is.  As far as I see it’s the last bit that’s the tricky.  

It is this last bit however, our dying, that we pretend doesn’t exist.  In the movies people tend to be pretty coherent during this stage.  Cancer sufferers may lose their hair but they don’t drift in and out of consciousness, they just sleep a lot.  They don’t cry like a baby with the pain that doctors refer to simply as “cancer pain”.  They don’t beg incoherently for more painkillers.  Doctors and nurses never say no, they empathise and listen to the straining attempts to be heard.  They respect and support, humbled by the grim reaper’s approach.  It’s a  picture postcard from a loving idyl.  

I’ve watched people dying, from close up, those who were as close to my heart as it is possible to get, outside of surgery, and those I knew as friends.  I’ve not seen sudden death, only the usual drawn out agony.  Once people realise I get it, they readily talk to me about their experiences of dying too.  Doctors, nurses, friends, strangers, prove to be members of a secret society, one which  I found I had joined when my wife died.  Probably almost everyone over the age of 50 and most of those over 40 is probably secretly a member, but they only admit to it furtively and in hushed tones, and only if you give them the sign.  

It’s probably much the same the world over.  The similarities between dying in Finland and dying in Scotland were so great that I felt I was living in Groundhog Day.  Yet dying is the thing in our lives that we plan least for and accept no control over.  We deny those who are confronting it with the right to live it as they wish, as they had the right to live every other part of their life.  Instead we insist that at the point which death enters the frame we submit to the will of others and to a surmised charity, becoming little more than lab rats.  We hand on a responsibility that is not expressed and cannot be accepted.  Those we expect to shoulder it instead protect themselves with walls of procedure and alienation, and we find ourselves silently fed feet first through a mincer until the last drop of life is squeezed out of us.


~ by haastava on June 7, 2012.

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