Saturday 9 October 2010

Looking at the other side of life

Knowingly or unknowingly we all think of death and how it might come to claim us. Quite natural. But there are some of us who anticipate it every time thus losing out on the present scenario called 'living.' This post was gradually born when I was in the midst of a lecture on British Literature. The resource person is a retired professor of Literature and a charming old man. But I noticed that many times in the course of his lecture, he invariably spoke of death. He told us about a man who travelled with him the day before in train but died due to cardiac arrest this morning. And after that, he remarked: "What if I die the same way today?" While adjusting the microphone's volume, he would say: "What if there is a shock and I die?"

I quite agree that for a man of his age, death is something that constantly niggles the mind but to anticipate it all the time is a bit unnerving. It is a fact that everyone who comes into this world must go, but why waste the precious moments thinking of something that will anyway come.

At this juncture, I would also like to cite another example. There is a man who serves as a gate-keeper in our University. He happened to chat with us a few days ago. He is a man who has retired from the Army. What he told us never left my mind: "The life in Army was wonderful. Even though death was always lurking, it was a great life. Now there is nothing left. Life has become boring." His words stuck me. Imagine always living in the shadow of death! There might be a bomb-blast or a bullet-rain anytime. But that man was very happy. In fact, he even has a bullet wound on his shoulder and left thigh but it has not deterred him. He finds civilian life boring! What a contrast between the old professor and the retired army gate-keeper.

I often think of death and the various things associated with it. In fact I have even imagined my own death with people saying things like: "Even yesterday, she was having coffee with me and talking about D. H Lawrence!" Well, so much so for death.

Let me pause with a lovely poem on death by John Donne:

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

So, do you ever think of death? Does it scare you or does it seem like an extension of life in another form? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Poem courtesy: Internet


  1. Dear Susan, your posts never disappoints.;)
    Yes, I admit, I think about death a lot recently. But mostly as I feel loneliness, and death is the next stage. Morbid thoughts of dying alone and not be found for days has been occupying my thinking for the past few weeks, but I think the onset has been brought my the break up of my relationship. And they will pass once I recover.
    I love the sentiments in your post. In fact, I wrote down a quote as a young woman, which stated that to live fully, one has to accept the imminence of death at all times, but not give into its threat.
    Have a lovely weekend dear Susan,

  2. In my line of work I deal with life and death every single day. When I think of my own I hope that when the time comes for me to die that it is dignified and peaceful. Too often I encounter families of terminal patients grasp at strings...any keep the inevitable from happening. It is really sad. I think they do this because there is fear in letting go.

  3. i broke my leg five weeks ago and did not think of death. My husband had a heart attack six years ago and again I did not think of death. But I think of death at other times, in the nooks and crannies of the day.

    The older I get the more I think about death. I do not want to end up like my 91 year old mother who has trouble even now acknowledging the possibility.

    Death greets us all, but like pimples and piles we need not obsess about it too much, just acknowledge it as you have done here.


  4. i do, at times. not that i dwell on it..i know it is provides an urgency for me in preparing my reminds me there is but little time and i am not promised tomorrow.

  5. In life there always comes a stage
    one thinks of death even if he were a sage
    that in the book of life, we are nearing the last page
    and these thoughts grow as one advances in age.

    Of late I do think of death, but not fear death itself but a worry about the people I would be leaving behind. They definitely would be better off without this lousy guy around :) but seriously these thoughts occur when I am alone in a far away place from home.

  6. If at all I think bout my death its in a prayer like - God, when I die help me come to You. I worry more bout losing the others, the people close to me... the people who are everything to me, even the thought is horrible. Anyway, as you said its better to deal with death when it happens rather than dreading the wait. After all, death is a consequence of life.

  7. Death is part of life and I think it should be a trusted guide and companion - not to fear it, like we do, but to know it's reality and ask ourselves: "Since I could die tomorrow, what must I do today?

  8. my dearest Susan,
    what insightful questions you ask here...
    I need to think and believe that when I pass away I'll be sleeping sweetly or I'll reincarnate again... But as I cannot prove that completely... I just don't know.
    I am only afraid to die for those I'll leave behind and miss me...

    Great post as always &...
    thank you so much for your amazing comment at my place ;)

  9. Lovely post; For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.

  10. My first thought was a quote I heard the other day. Let your dreams always be bigger than you memories. I had to think on that one a bit. I think of death now and then and those thoughts often cause me to in some way return to the words of St Paul when he said, "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 2Cor 13:5
    I was talking to a friend whose mother had just died. He said, death is so hard for us to comprehend becuase we cannot relate - you see we have never died. The closest we can imagine is sleeping. But I don't think that is very close to what death is like. That twisted my brain up for a few weeks.

  11. Susan

    You do have a way of making us ponder life and ask question of ourselves, most that we prefer to not articulate out loud for thinking maybe it is too solemn,

    Your comment on my post the other day is actually tied into your post today.... mine actually was about transformation in nature -- the death of the leaves, man's transformation in nature and the abundance of nature and her spring time renewal, for man and nature for we are inseparable,
    The Owl -- yes you were correct it was a white snowy Owl with his winter feathers, in many cultures around the world, birds are often depicted as messengers, and the Owl is thought to have an "Evil" eye or to be "Evil" -- you were correct on that observation as well, the Owl also like Pluto god of the underworld, stands for the signaling of death, as the Owl represented in my poem was the death by the falling leaves decaying and the passing of youth through ending of summer's love, and going into a winter sleep or transformation or death to re-emerge in spring renewal re-birth. All though I use a light heart humor, as not to take myself or ego to seriously,
    So in a way, that is how I view death.
    Warmest wishes to you,

  12. Susan, you won;t believe it - only a couple of days back while returning from work and cribbing about all the chaos around - I was thinking long after I am gone this chaos will still remain and then maybe this chaos is more meaningful and permanent than me. I have also been wanting to blog about this.

  13. Zuzana:

    Thanks for your ever kind words, dear Zuzana. Reading your comment made me a bit sad, though. But I understand it is your frank thoughts. I feel nice that you find this a platform to express your true self. Quite appreciated.


    Dignified and peaceful is what I even I would like to have. Going off in one's sleep is the best!

  14. Elisabeth:

    You are a brave woman. And I'm glad that I got to know you :) The analogy of pimples and piles is quite in good taste.


    Quite true.

  15. Govind:

    Lousy guy?? Don't berate yourself too much G. When death comes, nothing matters. You won't be alone. there will be other "lousy guys" for company and you can chill out.


    How nice your thoughts on death are! But people: They forget us as soon as we are gone. Life goes on . . .

  16. Myrna:

    "trusted guide and companion" is a lovely way to see it. Today you should LIVE. Big hugs dear one :)


    Reincarnation!!! Another Dulce writing poetry or a completely different Dulce?
    Big hugs and much love.

  17. Toyin:

    Welcome here. Glad to have you. For Christians, meeting Christ is the greatest incentive. Smiles and joy always.


    Hope your brain has come to its normalcy now :)

  18. Smith:

    Welcome here and thanks for your lovely words. I look forward to hearing from you as well :)


    How true you are in describing death. Death is represented in different ways in various cultures. many cultures see it as a celebration of life. Thanks for you insightful comment here. Your time and thoughts are much appreciated.

  19. Yuvika:

    Thoughts of death always hit us during many times in life. After all it is a vital part of life. Shall look forward to that post of yours.
    Hope your Sunday is rolling on well.

  20. I have thought about death and more so about the death of loved ones. I will admit I am a bit scared of death...both my own and of loved ones. But I guess more so of people I love. I know rationally that death is a fact of life. Nothing else can guaranteed in life apart from death. I tend to see a blackness once I die because I don't believe in heaven or hell or after-life. I just see myself going into some kind of cosmos or space. And that's it. The end. Bleak I know. :/

  21. The bleak end sounds a bit scary. Heaven or hell seems a respite. Death means so many things to people and I am liking the responses here.

  22. What an insightful Q dear Susan.
    Since my dad passed away I cannot even think of it.
    But unfortunately death is part of our life, and I think we all should compromise with it.

    Have a relaxing Sunday!

    B xx

  23. I think about death all the time, as I work in the hospice and acute care field. However, I don't think of my own death, just that of others and how to make their remaining days as comfortable and enjoyable as I can.

  24. Betty:

    Why compromise? Cannot we embrace it as we do our lives? Afterall it is a definite part of life.


    I am glad that you are doing a noble work. Your rewards will be manifold. Death will surely be seen in a different light by you, I am sure.

    Cheers to your good work and life!

    Joy always.

  25. I'm 64 years old and I often think of my death. I don't look forward to going through the process but once I step on the other side and look into the loving eyes of Jesus death will never be thought of again.

    1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (King James Version)

    54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

    55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

    56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

    57But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

  26. Ron:

    What you have describes is the joy in dying for every believing Christian.

    Joy always for a wonderful life :)

  27. Frankly Su, I've never thought about my death at all. But I'm scared for the people around me, my dears.. there were days in my childhood I would wake up in the night and check my dad's heart beat or my mom'm breathing or my bro's chests, ...checking if they are all right... I don't let them anybody sleep for more time than needed, scares me, when somebody comes late or does not call, I fear they have been taken!

    Let me see...if I die, well I would love to be covered with beautiful flowers for my burial rites, dressed in anything in baby pink, my mushi polar bear by my side, lying there peacefully to enter the pearly gates...

    hugs and hugs

  28. Sometimes even I check to see if my people are actually breathing. A sudden fear comes my way. And for me it comes all so suddenly.

    Mushi polar bear! Funny, funny!

    Joy always, dear one :)

  29. Good one...

    Death in inenvitable. Ipersonally feel both extremes are not good. When one don't think of it at all, one can become more selfish, thinking everything he acquires materialistically are permanent. On other hand when you always think about death, you might not have have motivation at all.

  30. Guha:

    Welcome to the meanderings. Glad to have you here. Extremes are not good in anything and you are so right in saying so. Death is always a factor that is sure but it has lot of surprise elements.

    Hope to see more of you :)

  31. Dear Susan, I read this and I thought I had left a comment... guess not! I thought a lot about death when I was 16.I spoke to the Lord alot about it. Asking him if he were real, was there an after life. Would we remember who we are or were. My boy and I had this conversation last night. He is afraid. I trying to think how I should pacify him about death.

  32. Gaia:

    Death, if contemplated moves us tremendously. We take a long time to come to terms with it and after we have reached a stage, our children confront us and we don't know how to explain it to them. Life goes on.

    Big hugs Gaia :)

  33. I'm not scared of death. I'm actually interested to know more about life after death. Death is something which gives rise for a new pathway to a different dimension

  34. Sohini:

    Welcome here. Glad that death interests you and that you believe that there is life after death.

    Best wishes :)



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