I am sure half the readers must have cringed just glancing at the title! They'd have skipped past it faster than a cancer patient trying to escape the grim reaper on performance drugs! And there, I made you cringe again! How could I joke about cancer, death, and the reaper! 😱
I am sure no one is remotely concerned about the casual mention of performance enhancement drugs! 😂
But have we ever stopped to think why is death such a bloody suicidal topic to discuss? Pardon my subtlety, please. Also, weirdly, there is definitely no living thing that has achieved as much notoriety as death. Ironic, ya?
It also doesn't help when Voldemort goes around talking about death and Horcruxes, wanting to rip his soul into seven pieces in an attempt at self-preservation! Now that's what I call REAL ironic. 🙄
The most obvious underlying reason for our aversion to conversations on death is the assumption that death is certainly never a 'positive' thing.
No one wants to part ways with their loved ones, least of all when the separation is 'before their time'. Though logically, how do we conveniently assign each human a validity period is funny by itself! Not to mention the fact that despite accepting the average life expectancy to be around 65 years, everyone considers themselves to be an exception to this rule! And therein lies the problem. At the root of all this negativity is a reluctance to accept and rationalize death.
But one may ask, why should you and I treat death rationally? Rationality develops in our formative years, no? We treat ailments and health conditions rationally because doctors have probably been our secondary guardians for the initial eighteen years of our life! But death? How many kids really experience it early on? Fortunately, not many. But a recent conversation with a friend highlighted the profound impact that early exposure to death can have on our ability to process it as an adult. And trust me, no one can gain that maturity overnight!
I am not suggesting that we should ask kids to intern at emergency wards over the summer to get their fill of dying patients! 🙂 But, to shield them from natural death is only a way to deny them the understanding of a very crucial part of life itself - the end.
What follows thereafter is a natural extension of our well-padded lives as kids. If you've never learnt how to cope with loss and separation, how can you be comfortable about it in a more mature setting when the stakes are higher?
Therefore, it's no surprise when people can't offer their condolences or support someone who's grieving, or even have a discussion about death without relying on cliché crutches like the silent head nod, passive shrug, or the sigh of emotional ineptitude.
And god forbid if someone actually accepts it for what it is and goes on to crack a joke to lighten the mood! Phew. The only thing considered more insensitive than a racist joke is a joke about someone dead. Why? Shouldn't the living be offered a shred more dignity than the dead, who most definitely cannot hear you? 🤷🏻♂️
Of course, the common argument is that you avoid insensitive comments out of concern and respect for the grieving family and friends. But no one's asking you to crack a joke about the death itself! But remembering the good days through the medium of positive and funny anecdotes should be harmless, right?
Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself. That was one of the most influential lines from my favourite childhood fictional saga. And this perfectly aligns with our fear and discomfort of death-related conversations. The more we choose to not talk about it, the more power we grant to this faceless entity that is supposed to be merely a law of nature! Everyone dies, eventually. Living in fear of that fatal discussion only ensures that we dangle a very sharp sword over every other normal conversation that could have otherwise been wonderful!
I think I know what could cure us of this ridiculous prejudice against death. If only all the dying people developed the slightest sense of humour for themselves, the conversation would become that much easier for the folks around them. The point is to act not as if everything is okay but to acknowledge that life, and in turn, death sucks, but even it does not have to suck for everyone else around! We may not be able to have a mature discussion about death today, but we can make it easier by the time our own time's up?
Maybe I will break this chain and add a joke or two in my will -
"I hereby decree that henceforth, every fourth Friday shall be observed as a serious Oktoberfest, unless it's the month of September-October, in which case you can include the rest of the days of the week as well!"
I mean, who does not like the sound of snorts of laughter mixed amidst intermittent sobs? And of course, the tears will be few because most of you will be half-mad that I wrote such shit anyway. 😂
But jokes aside, we must be comfortable with this now of all times. For the sake of our psychological well-being today, there are a ton of complicated issues that we NEED to discuss. But if we can't even talk of the dead without flinching, how can we discuss the problems of the living?
And when I say discuss, I mean REALLY discuss, and not rant on our favourite platform for a few paltry likes and retweets.
I mean something more like this post, which is so not a rant. 🙄