Monday, October 30, 2006


Some believe that this is the time of year when the division between those who are dead and those alive becomes fuzzy.
Many cultures celebrate the dead. We in the west do not.
We closet the dyeing away in hospitals. Our society focuses solely on the new, the fresh, the young, the growing. To do otherwise is to be morbid, we are told.
Sitting at my Mom's death bed I heard comments such as,
"I don't know how you can sit there. I couldn't."
With this pervasive opinion, many of the dyeing are forced to face this transition among strangers. I was determined that my Mom would be spared this fate.
Why does this pervasive opinion persist?
I believe it is out of fear.
Do you know the story 'The monkey's paw'?
An older couple has lost their dearly beloved son. He is killed on the battle field as he valiantly fights for freedom. At their time of grief, a friend visits the couple. He brings with him hope in the form of a gift: the monkey's paw. The monkey's paw, the couple are told, is magical. Anything wished for the paw will grant.
Of course, you can guess what the couple wish for: their son back.
Yet such a wish can only bring harm. Journeying from the realm of the dead to the realm of the living is not natural.
The son is summoned. The narrator describes the horror which approaches the couples front door. However, just in the nick of time the couple are spared the true horror by a wish, "return him to the dead."
This tale may be interrupted as: have respect for both realms. Unfortunately, our society chooses to use this as well as other tales to spread fear.
Sadly, it is natural for we in the west to fear what we do not understand. Fear is a strong emotion. So strong in fact that it forces us to run from death, to deny it's presence. Death becomes the elephant in the room.
Yet death is just as central to life as birth. How can we presume to appreciate the light when we fear the dark?


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