Reminder: We Are All Temporary Here

Death reminds us of mortality, our own and others.

Inevitable as death is, when it comes, we act as if it’s completely unexpected, regardless of how it arrives. We even try to avoid mentioning the word in polite company. instead using euphisms like “She/He passed on.”

This often leaves us unprepared, emotionally and intellectually, to deal with the death of someone close to us.

I believe more open talk and frank discussion of the dread topic of death would free us to more fruitfully engage with this common experience will we all share. I’ve certainly blogged about the topic more than once before — this is another set of links on the subject:

Death Ed

Our schools offer Driver’s Ed and Sex Ed — why not Death Ed? It turns out some educational programs are actively exploring that.

High School Death Ed

If sex ed exists in high school curriculums, why not death ed? It’s an idea some doctors, palliative care advocates and educators are calling for. They say that just as sex is a natural part of the life cycle, so too is death — and schools have a role in preparing students for this inevitable reality.

Death & Dying 101

Instead of confronting their own mortality, many Americans tend to label such talk as “morbid” and try to stave it off—along with death itself—as long as they can. It wasn’t always this way in the U.S. Until the end of the 19th century, Americans were far more familiar with many aspects of death, largely because most people died at home and people took care of their own dead.

Exit Music

Hospices and death doulas work with the dying and their family and friends to ease the final days of a loved one. Here are two groups offering music as salve for the pain we face when facing imminent death.

Swan Songs (Austin, Texas)

Never underestimate the healing power of music, even if it only lasts for a brief moment. Songs can uplift our moods and move us through difficult times. The gift of music can be so powerful, it can transport us to a different place, entirely. Music can also bring people together. It may also bring solace to friends and families of loved ones who are terminally ill. Swan Songs, a local nonprofit in Austin, is striving to accomplish just that, and the process is simpler than you might expect.

Companion Voices (North London Hospice)

“Although our culture has moved death into the realms of fear and dread, it’s a normal and accepted element of life in many other cultures around the world…I set up Companion Voices to make it possible for people to choose to be sung to as they approach the very end of their life; to be surrounded by the loving presence and voices of people who wish to accompany and affirm them at that moment of transition.”

“This camel stops at every tent.”

My friend, Bijan, shared this old Persian proverb when he heard of my father’s death. It perhaps sums up the core truth about the death of a parent. What I often tell friends now is, “The world changes forever the day a parent dies — in ways we can never foresee.”

I don’t think there is anything that can prepare you to lose a parent. It is a larger blow in adulthood I believe, because you are at the point where you are actually friends with your mother or father. Their wisdom has finally sunk in and you know that all of the shit you rolled your eyes at as a teenager really was done out of love and probably saved your life a time or two.

The longer we live, the more often we will hear of the death of someone we know and love. Let’s break the silence and start the conversations that can help address our fears.

About bullersbackporch

I am a native Austinite, a high-tech Luddite, lover of music, movies and stories and a born trainer-explainer.
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