We’ve all heard it said …. Death and taxes – both inescapable, both unavoidable. In fact, there were 533,253 deaths registered in England and Wales in 2017.Yet the subject of death still remains very much a taboo subject which we often shy away from discussing, despite knowing that none of us are exempt from the finality of it.
Our perception of death
Our perception is generally that it is a depressing subject to talk about in a serious way – but conversely, when depicted as blasé or meaningless (and because it doesn’t affect our real lives in any way), it often provides a source of entertainment through films and TV. I’m sure many of us have experienced the thrill of watching a horror movie!
In our attempt to sweep death under the carpet as a matter not to be discussed, grievers are frequently described as being ‘strong’ or ‘brave’ that makes others more comfortable with their stoical approach to managing grief.
As a culture, we do not encourage people to open up about their loss, to mourn openly – there is an acceptable period of understanding that someone may need time off work for a while, etc. but then we want them to be back to their ‘normal’ selves, to be fully functioning again while their world has irrevocably changed. On an unconscious level for many, it’s actually a reminder of their own immortality and that can be too painful to face.
I have heard many stories of people being asked whether they are ‘over it’ now. As if it’s an illness that one can take some medication and recover from it! We can never fully recover from losing our loved ones – the raw pain subsides, and time is often the greatest healer but it changes us at a very core level.
Modern views of death
Interestingly, a new movement has started where people are coming together to openly discuss topics about death and meetings are springing up worldwide to bring people together to talk about death over tea and cake! – www.deathcafe.org.
They are not support groups for the bereaved but open to anyone and everyone and provide a refreshing take on the inevitable ending that we will all face one day. Their objective is ‘to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives’.
Surely that makes more sense? Rather than remaining in denial and avoiding the ‘depressing’, ‘morbid’ discussions that we often hear associated with the subject of death, if we start to accept it as a certainty and a finality, we’ll actually start living more …