Mon, Feb. 24

Sunset and Winter

Both sunset and winter have been compared to death throughout history. Modern man found ways to overcome the dark with artificial light and to conquer winter by taming heat sources. But we haven't really stopped the dark of night, nor have we managed to stop the seasons from turning. What we have done is to make ourselves artificially comfortable in the face of nature. Making ourselves comfortable at the end of life is a natural desire. Turning ourselves-- or our loved ones - into machine-sustained contrivances is abnormal on every level.

In our technological age we invent all sorts of unnatural ways to circumvent death, turning the end of life into a defeat rather than a perfectly natural event. Physicians are trained to stop death, to thwart it at every turn. In America few of us are capable of celebrating our inevitable departure from the physical body.

Partly because of fear and partly because of a separation from all things natural, we deny and demonize death.

A few of us have what I call Inner Knowing, an innate peace with end of life. Our friends think we're strange and the world calls us fatalists, but they all turn to us when death approaches. Most of us did not ask for this "knowing", rather it is our calling.

And personally, I'm grateful to have found my purpose: to be the one who is comfortable with death and dying in my circle of friends and family.

If we do our job, helping to educate and advocate, death will once again be a natural, family-and-friend-centered function.

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