Death is in the news a lot. Just turn on the television or pick up a newspaper and you’ll see story after story about death. Look on social media to read all about death. It’s everywhere. Genocide, homicide, filicide, patricide and suicide. They’re all around us. So are the people with opinions about death.
So, there’s death. The end of life. It’s a fact. Everything dies.. No sugar-coating death. We can spend billions trying to find the fountain of youth and yet, death catches up with all of us.
Different ideas around death exist in every culture. Some mourn for a specified period of time, some hold wakes to celebrate a life well lived. Some have religious laws that delineate how to handle death. How we cope with death is determined as much by the beliefs we were raised with as our visceral reaction to death.
When we see the death of people during wars, we become outraged. When we read about a mother attempting to kill her daughter, we become angered. When we see a story about a child killed by their caregiver, we protest the inadequacies of the law. When we see a story about suicide, we cringe. That line created by morality is in a different place for each of us.
For some, dying by our own hand is a criminal act. Life should be preserved at all costs. Whatever Deity we hold dear will punish those who commit suicide. It’s so ingrained in American culture that even life insurance payouts are denied to those who commit suicide. We wring our hands, bemoaning the “untimely” death and crying for those left behind.
I believe that death is death. When you remove the layers of religion, culture, tradition and morality….death is still death. You can’t change that fact. You can impose your moral judgment. You can express disapproval. You can argue that your Deity would not approve. But, is any of that factual? The answer is no.
Whether death occurs as an act of war, from negligence, by the hand of another, by old age or by our own hand determines our reaction to death. I know some deeply spiritual people who have told me about the moments of grace they find while sitting with people as they drew their last breath. I also read about people so sure in their religious faith that they KNOW their Deity would not approve of suicide. To those people I offer John 8:7.
My goal here is not to claim moral superiority. It’s not to tell you how to feel about death. It’s not to change how you feel about religion. None of us knows what hand we’ll be dealt. None of us that are still breathing can make any claims to understanding what happens after death. When you publicly express your judgment about death, you are claiming moral superiority.
My goal is to simply state the fact that death comes to all of us. You live your life as you are able. Leave whatever legacy you have your heart set upon. Just remember that regardless of how you die, someone will find fault with it. Someone will judge you. I think I’m going to spend my time focusing on improving myself instead of trying to prove someone else should conform to my ideals.