09/20/17

Why the Irish get death right

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We’ve lost our way with death, says Kevin Toolis – but the Irish wake, where the living, the bereaved and the dead remain bound together, shows us the way things could be done

Kevin Toolis … ‘My father’s dying, his wake, his willing sharing of his own death, would too be his last parental lesson to his children and his community. A gift.’

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In the narrow room the old man lay close to death.

Two days before, he had ceased to speak, lapsed into unconsciousness, and the final vigil had begun. The ravages of cancer had eaten into the flesh leaving only a skeletal husk. The heart beat on and the lungs drew breath but it was impossible to tell if he remained aware.

In the bare whitewashed room, no bigger than a prison cell, 10 watchers – the mná caointe – the wailing women, were calling out, keening, sharing the last moments of the life, and the death, of this man. My father. Sonny.

“Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us now, and at the hour of our death.”

In the tight, enclosed space, the sound of this chorus of voices boomed off the walls, the ceiling, louder and louder, reverberating, verse after verse, on and on, cradling Sonny into death.

This death so open, so different from the denial of the Anglo-Saxon world would, too, be Sonny’s last parental lesson.

How to die.

If you have never been to an Irish wake, or only seen the movie version, you probably think a wake is just another Irish piss up, a few pints around the corpse and an open coffin. But you would be wrong.

Kevin’s father, Sonny Toolis.

In the Anglo-Saxon world, death is a whisper. Instinctively we feel we should dim the lights, lower our voices and draw the screens. We want to give the dead, dying and the grieving room. We say we do so because we don’t want to intrude. And that is true but not for these reasons.

We don’t want to intrude because we don’t want to look at the mirror of our own death. We have lost our way with death.

On the Irish island where my family have lived in the same village for the last 200 years, and in much of the rest of Ireland, death still speaks with a louder voice. Along with the weather reports of incoming Atlantic storms, the local Mayo country and western radio station runs a thrice daily deaths announcement enumerating the deaths and the funeral arrangements of the 10 or so daily freshly departed. There is even a phone line, 95c a minute, just so you can check up on those corpses you might have missed.

There should be nothing strange about this. In the absence of war and catastrophe, humans across the planet die at an annual rate of 1%; 200,000 dead people a day, 73m dead people a year. An even spread. It’s happening all around you even as you read this article; the block opposite, the neighbouring street and your local hospital.

If the local radio in London or New York did the same as that Mayo station, the announcer would have to read out the names of 230 dead strangers, three times a day, just to keep up.

Of course, if you live in a city such as London, where 85,000 people die each year, you would never know of these things. Such a very public naming of the dead, an annunciation of our universal mortality, would be an act of revelation in the Anglo-Saxon world. And likely deemed an outrage against “public decency” – which would almost certainly lead to advertising boycotts and protests.

More shocking still then would be the discovery of another country where the dying, like Sonny, the living, the bereaved and the dead still openly share the world and remain bound together in the Irish wake.

And death, in its very ordinariness, is no stranger.

My father, Sonny Toolis, was too a very ordinary man. He was never rich or powerful or important. He never held public office and his name never appeared in the newspapers. The world never paid him much attention and Sonny also knew the world never would. He was born poor in a village on an island, devoid of electricity, mains water and tarred roads, in much the same way the poor have been born in such places for most of human history.

Sonny never got the chance to get much of an education and worked most of his life as a foreman on building sites earning the money to pay for the university education of his seven children.

Sonny was good with his hands though. Useful to have around if things went wrong with the electric, the drains, or you needed the furniture moved. He had his limitations; he did not like strange peppery foods, he wasn’t very comfortable wearing suits, and he was terrible at giving speeches at weddings.

He did have a great singing voice, played the bagpipes and the accordion, and taught his children to sing by what he called the air – by listening along. In the 1960s, he bought a 35mm German camera, took pictures, and ran the prints off in his own darkroom. He even shot film on Super 8. But it was never more than a hobby. Like a lot of us, Sonny had some talents he would never fully realise in life.

But Sonny really did have one advantage over most of us. He knew how to die. And he knew how to do that because his island mothers and fathers, and all the generations before, had shared their deaths in the Irish wake and showed him how to die too.

His dying, his wake, his willing sharing of his own death, would too be his last parental lesson to his children and his community. A gift.

The wake is among the oldest rites of humanity first cited in the great Homeric war poem the Iliad and commonly practised across Europe until the last 200 years. The final verses of the Iliad, the display of the Trojan prince Hector’s corpse, the wailing women, the feasting and the funeral games, are devoted to his wake. And such rituals would be easily recognisable to any wake-goer on the island today.

For our ancestors, a wake, with its weight of obligations between the living and the bodies of the dead, and the dead and living, was a pathway to restore natural order to the world, heal our mortal wound, and communally overcome the death of any one individual. An act, in our current, thin psychological jargon, of closure.

Through urbanisation, industrialisation and the medicalisation of death, the wake died away in most of the western world and death itself came to be silenced by what might be called the Western Death Machine. But out in the west, among the Celts, this ancient form of death sharing lives on.

When he was 70, my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer – still among the most fatal cancers among western men. Sonny never flinched. He did not want to die but when he knew he had no choice, he never wasted the time he had left. He wasn’t angry or embittered but something wiser – he accepted his death. He got on with his dying the same way as he had got on living, day by day, pressing forward, husbanding his energy.

Sonny’s time had come but neither he nor his community denied his impending death. Unlike the shunning of the Anglo-Saxon world, his house filled with visitors who came to see him because he was dying.

Dying is an exhausting, self-centring act. Sonny, always a powerful physically imposing man, rapidly shed powers like a snake shedding skin. His world shrank to two rooms and Sonny knew he would never see the end of that fateful summer.

Sonny’s fatherhood was ending and my own beginning. Our last words together on his deathbed were very ordinary, bland. “I’ll let you go, son,” he said as I left to return to the city. When I returned, he had lapsed into a coma and could no longer speak.

But our parting was fitting. There was no more mystery to share. No revelation to be uncovered. Our identities as father and son had already been written out in the deeds of our life together; Sonny changing my nappy, not losing his temper in my teenage contrariness, encouraging me in my education and the summers we shared on building sites when I worked alongside him while still a student. And in all the countless ways he showed me in his craft how to be a man and father myself.

Sonny died just before dawn on the longest day of the year at home in the village of ancestors. No one called for help, or the “authorities”. He was already home with us. His body was washed and prepared for his coffin by his daughter and sister-in-law. He was laid out in his own front sitting room in an open coffin as his grandchildren, three, five and nine, played at the coffin’s feet.

His community, his relatives, some strangers even, came in great numbers to pray at his side, feast, talk, gossip about sheep prices or the stock market, and openly mark his death in countless handshakes and “Sorry for your trouble” utterances.

We waked together through the night with Sonny’s corpse to guard the passage out for his departing soul and man the Gate of Chaos against Hades’ invading horde lest the supernatural world sought to invade the living world. Just as the Trojans too before us had watched over Hector’s corpse. A perpetual quorum; dying in each other’s lives and living on in each other’s deaths at every wake ever since.

It was blessing of a kind, an act of grace. We give ourselves, our mortal presence, in such death sharings, or we give nothing at all; all the rest of our powers, wealth, position, status, are useless.

To be truly human is to bear the burden of our own mortality and to strive, in grace, to help others carry theirs; sometimes lightly, sometimes courageously. In communally accepting death into our lives through the Irish wake we are all able to relearn the first and oldest lessons of humanity. How to be brave in irreversible sorrow. How to reach out to the dying, the dead and the bereaved. How to go on living no matter how great the rupture or loss. How to face your own.

And how, like Sonny, to teach your children to face their death too.

Complete Article HERE!

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05/25/17

‘Passing away’, ‘kicking the bucket’ and ‘pushing up daisies’: How we avoid talking about death

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Knowing how to communicate about death gives us the language to discuss end-of-life topics.

By Deb Rawlings, Christine Sanderson, Deborah Parker, Jennifer Tieman and Lauren Miller-Lewis

Talking about death and dying is taboo in many parts of the world.

So it’s no wonder many people avoid talking about it. Or they struggle to find the right words.

Whereas once, we were more comfortable talking about death, now we have become creative in avoiding talking about it.

We resort to euphemisms (alternative words that are softer or less direct) to soften the blow.

For instance, we talk about people “passing” or “gone” rather than they’ve died or are dead, just two examples from a rich history and range of euphemisms we discovered in our research.

What we did and what we found

We ran an online course, open to anyone around the world, on death and dying.

The aim was to open conversations about the topic, and to promote understanding about death as a natural part of life.

Over two years, we asked 3,116 participants from 39 countries about how they talked about death and dying.

They told us of alternative words or phrases to describe death instead of the words “death” or “dead”.

They volunteered varied, often humorous alternatives such as: “wrong side of the grass”, “taking a dirt nap”, “worm food”, “cashed in their chips” and “staring at the lid”.

But the most widely used euphemism was “gone”. Variants of “passed” were also very popular, like “passed away”, “passed over” and “passed on”.

Some of the euphemisms we found for death and dying. The larger the print, the more common they were.

There were also historical phrases that still make sense today, such as: “shuffled off” or “shuffled off this mortal coil,” from Shakespeare’s Hamlet (published early 1600s); “six feet under” (from around 1665, referring to how deep plague victims needed to be buried); and “promoted to glory” (used by the Salvation Army since the 19th century).

One common Australianism was “carked it” (also spelled “karked it”), a phrase that confused participants from other countries.

Some participants said euphemisms were acceptable if it was culturally inappropriate to be more direct.

This was particularly so for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants, who preferred “finishing up” and “passed away”.

Other culturally specific euphemisms included: the UK’s “gone for a Burton” (used by the armed forces in World War II) and Cockney rhyming slang “brown bread” (rhymes with dead).

Participants from the US reported “crossed into Beulah land” (from the book The Pilgrim’s Progress) or “sleeping with the fishes” (from the movie The Godfather).

 

How and why do we use euphemisms?

People mainly said they used euphemisms because the words “dead” or “dying” could upset people or were too harsh.

Some participants said they had heard many euphemisms, but wouldn’t dream of using some, for instance “kicked the bucket”, for fear of causing offence.

Most participants said they speak openly about death and dying but could understand why others don’t.

Over two-thirds of participants were health professionals, and while many of them were comfortable talking in plain language, they often used the phrase “passed away” in some situations rather than “died”.

Many participants use euphemisms when others do, and are guided by them in conversation.

Is this a problem?

Does it really matter if people use such euphemisms? Not always.

But sometimes euphemisms can lead to misunderstandings and confusion. Think of the commonly used “gone”.

One participant talked of an aunt who was waiting to hear about the health of her husband.

The aunt received a phone call telling her that her husband had “gone” so she asked which nursing home he was transferred to.

The caller had the awkward task of clarifying her husband had died.

Then there’s the word “lost”. One participant received a phone call from a friend who had “lost” her mum:

I was confused and said, “Why? Where did she go? How can she be lost?

Other participants talked of receiving condolences such as “I’m sorry you have lost your son,” only to wonder whether they should feel careless in misplacing him.

Communicating about death and dying is important

Euphemisms have their place. But being able to talk openly (and clearly) about death and dying is important as it helps normalise death and avoids confusion.

If health professionals use euphemisms, they need to consider whether patients really understand what they’re trying to say.

And normalising death and dying (and communicating it) helps us prepare for the death of someone we love, or to find the right language to make the best choices for end-of-life care or for a funeral.

Complete Article HERE!

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07/26/16

Most Distinctive Obituary Euphemism for ‘Died’ in Each State

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By Simon Davis

map_click_to_enlarge

If you’re an American alive today, chances are you’ve heard or used one of over 100 different euphemisms for death. A common reason many people don’t just say someone has “died” is a desire to not want to appear too harsh. This happens not just in everyday conversation, but also in obituaries we read in newspapers and increasingly online.

Are some expressions for dying more prevalent in obituaries than others? Are there regional variations? To find out the answers to these questions, I reached out to Legacy.com, a leading online provider of paid death notices. According to the data they provided, in 2015, they hosted 2,408,142 obituaries across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Of those, 1,341,870 included one of their 10 most common euphemisms, or the word died.

The top term is unsurprising. “Passed away” was used in 32.5 percent of all obituaries and topped the national list. In every single state, it was either “passed away” or “died” (20.6 percent nationwide at #2) that was used most often. The relative prevalence of each of these terms paints a much more diverse picture, however.

Using a similar methodology to the “Most Distinctive Causes of Death” map, I calculated the difference between the regional and national prevalence of each term. The highest value gives the phrase that is most “characteristic” to that state. As it turns out, some terms are used comparatively more often than others depending on where you’ve died—or at least where your obituary is published.

Complete Article HERE!

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12/12/15

101 Ways to Say “Died”

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By 

001

I’m going to start running a series called “101 Ways to Say Died.” In this project, I will be cataloging all the synonyms for “died” that appear in early American epitaphs.

In order to qualify, the word/phrase must appear in the main part of the text, not the verse. That is to say, I’m looking at the part where it says, “Here lies John Doe, died January 1, 1750,” rather than the poetic epitaph that sometimes appears after the primary epitaph. If I can’t make it to 101 with this criterion, I’ll look at the verses. Similarly, I’m going to limit eligibility to pre-1825 stones with the option to extend that to 1850 if I fall short of 101.

Complete list of 101 posts after the break.

Departed This Life

Departed This Life

Part 1: Died
Part 2: Departed This Life
Part 3: Deceased
Part 4: Entred Apon an Eternal Sabbath of Rest
Part 5: Fell a Victim to an Untimely Disease
Part 6: Departed This Transitory Life
Part 7: Killed by the Fall of a Tree
Part 8: Left Us
Part 9: Obit
Part 10: Slain by the Enemy
Part 11: Departed This Stage of Existence
Part 12: Went Rejoycing Out of This World
Part 13: Submiting Her Self to ye Will of God
Part 14: Fell Asleep
Part 15: Changed a Fleeting World for an Immortal Rest
Part 16: Fell Asleep in the Cradle of Death
Part 17: Fell Aslep in Jesus
Part 18: Was Still Born
Part 19: Innocently Retired
Part 20: Expired
Part 21: Perished in a Storm
Part 22: Departed from This in Hope of a Better Life
Part 23: Summoned to Appear Before His Judge
Part 24: Liv’d About 2 Hours
Part 25: Rose Upon the Horizon of Perfect Endless Day
Part 26: Peracto Hac Vita
Part 27: Bid Farewell to this World
Part 28: Was Barbarously Murdered in his Own Home by Gages Bloody Troops
Part 29: Kill’d by a Cart
Part 30: Killed by a Waggon
Part 31: Passed to the Summer Land

Passed to the Summer Land

Passed to the Summer Land

Part 32: Joined the Congregation of the Dead
Part 33: Exchanged Worlds
Part 34: Changed this Mortal Life for that of Immortality
Part 35: Her Longing Spirit Sprung
Part 36: Lost at Sea
Part 37: Hung
Part 38: Finish’d a Life of Examplary Piety
Part 39: Breathed Her Soul Away Into Her Saviour’s Arms
Part 40: Second Birth
Part 41: Passed Into the World of Spirits
Part 42: Fell by the Hands of . . . an Infatuated Man
Part 43: Expired in the Faith of Christ
Part 44: Ended All Her Cares in Quiet Death
Part 45: Yielding Up Her Spirit
Part 46: Clos’d This Earthly Scene
Part 47: Her Existence Terminated
Part 48: Rested From ye Pains & Sorrows of This Life
Part 49: Inhumanly Murdered by Cruel Savages
Part 50: Entered the Regions of Immortal Felicity
Part 51: Lost His Life By a Fall From a Tree
Part 52: Fell Bravely Fighting for the Liberties of His Country
Part 53: Finished a Long and Useful Life
Part 54: Was Shot by a Negroe Soldier
Part 55: Drowned
Part 56: Was Found Lashed to the Mast of His Sunken and Ill-Fated Vessel
Part 57: Began to Dissolve
Part 58: Died . . . From Stabs Inflicted With a Knife
Part 59: Basely Assassinated
Part 60: Resigned His Soul to God
Part 61: Fell on Sleep and Was Laid Unto His Fathers
Part 62: Made His Exit
Part 63: Supposed Foundered at Sea
Part 64: Quitted the Stage
Part 65: Earth Life Closed
Part 66: Frozen to Death
Part 67: Was Called to Close His Eyes on Mortal Things
Part 68: Chearfully Resigned Her Spret Into the Hand of Jesus
Part 69: Entred into His Heavenly House
Part 70: . . . For A Never Ending Eternity
Part 71: Yielded Her Spirit to Its Benevolent Author
Part 72: Lost on Look-Out Shoals
Part 73: Exchanged This for a Better Life
Part 74: Rested From the Hurry of Life
Part 75: Received a Mortal Wound on His Head
Part 76: Died Tryumphingly in Hops of a Goyful Resurrection
Part 77: Kill’d By Lightening
Part 78: Left It
Part 79: Whose Deaths . . . Were Occasioned by the Explosion of the Powder Mill
Part 80: Translation to ye Temple Above
Part 81: Resigned His Mortal Life
Part 82: Call’d . . . To His Reward
Part 83: Arrested by Death
Part 84: . . . And Have Never Since Been Heard of
Part 85: Gone Home
Part 86: Resigned This Life in Calm and Humble Hope of Heaven
Part 87: Was Released
Part 88: Left Her Weeping Friends
Part 89: Laid His Hoary Head to Rest Beneath This Mournful Turf
Part 90: Rested From His Labors

Rested from His Labors

Rested from His Labors

Part 91: Quitted the Stage
Part 92: Was Casually Shot
Part 93: Cut Down in the Bloom of Life
Part 94: Unhappily Parish’d in the Flames
Part 95: Unveiled
Part 96: Nobly Fell By the Impious Hand of Treason and Rebellion
Part 97: Fell in Battle at Molino del Rey
Part 98: Remanded
Part 99: Translated to His Masters Joy
Part 100: Bid Adieu to Earthly Scenes
Part 101: I Am Only Going Into Another Room

Even though the series is over, I’ll carry on posting these as I find them.

Part 102: Was Taken By Death From His Mother’s Breasts
Part 103: Was Suffocated
Part 104: Left to Go and Be With Christ
Part 105: Left This World
Part 106: Passed Onward
Part 107: Passed Away
Part 108: Perished With 41 Other Persons
Part 109: Killed By Falling From Cliffs
Part 110: Vanquished the World and Relinquished It
Part 111: Was Removed By a Dysentery
Part 112: Died in His Country[‘]s Service
Part 113: Commenced Her Inseparable Union with Her Much Beloved Husband and Her God
Part 114: Was Drouned in a Tan Pit
Part 115: Was Instantly Kill’d by a Stock of Boards
Part 116: Submitted to the Stroke of All Conquering Death
Part 117: Died of the 108 Convulsion Fit
Part 118: Hurried From This Life

Complete Article HERE!

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12/4/13

The Good Life (and death)

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“Let’s take a fresh look at our mortality, and let’s do so in an interactive and positive way. Let’s celebrate the concept that living well and dying well are one and the same thing. I’m not talking about adjusting deathbed pillows so that, as we die, we can strike heroic poses for the edification of onlookers. I’m talking about achieving a good death in the context of real dying–with all its unpredictability, disfigurement, pain, and sorrow.”

 

I presented a workshop to a group of seniors, at a senior center, north of Seattle awhile back. The workshop was titled, Managing Our Mortality. I like that title; if for no other reason than it doesn’t seem to spook folks into thinking doom and gloom as they consider the end of their life. Fact is, and this is a real curious thing, for most people the concept of their mortality is easier to handle than the concept of their death. Even though, let’s face it, they basically are one and the same thing. Such is the power of euphemisms.

At any rate, I began my presentation with some preliminary thoughts on the concept of living a good death. This is another favorite topic of mine. See an earlier posting of mine, Is Death The Enemy?  I am of the mind that a good life and a good death are one and the same thing, but this is a real hard sell for someone who is enjoying one’s life (especially one’s golden years) and who is not yet ready to go push up daises.

live in such a wayAll these workshops begin with a proclamation. “Let’s take a fresh look at our mortality, and let’s do so in an interactive and positive way. Let’s celebrate the concept that living well and dying well are one and the same thing. I’m not talking about adjusting deathbed pillows so that, as we die, we can strike heroic poses for the edification of onlookers. I’m talking about achieving a good death in the context of real dying–with all its unpredictability, disfigurement, pain, and sorrow.”

While I was saying this I was watching the body language of those gathered to hear me speak. I know this is a critical moment in the presentation. A swift rise in the anxiety level of just a few participants can be contagious to the whole group. I notice that there was a modest amount of lip pursing, clearing of throats, shifting in their seats, and crossing of arms. This signaled that some were ill at ease, but I thought I was ok with the majority so I pressed on. But just to be sure, I casually added that I deliver this very same message regardless of my audience—college kids, soccer moms, healing and helping professionals, what have you. This seemed to settle down my audience a bit. I guess they were reassured that I wasn’t singling them out for a special dose of reality just because they were of a certain age.

I was just about to move on to my next point when a nicely dressed woman with carefully coiffed platinum-colored hair meekly raised her hand with a question. I called on her. She said; “I don’t understand the concept of a good death. There’s nothing ‘good’ about death. Death is the end. I’m really enjoying my retirement, I’m involved with all sorts of creative things I never had time for when I was working and raising my family. I don’t relish the thought of all this coming to an end any time soon.”

There was a lot of nodding of heads in agreement. A man, further back in the room, who appeared to be well into his 70’s, stood up, with the aid of his cane, in anticipation that I would call on him. I pointed to him and asked, “Do you have a question?” “Yes I do! Actually it’s more of a statement.” I said, “Please continue.” “Well, seems to me that dying is hard enough. All this talk of a ‘good death’ sounds like you are layering on an expectation that we do it correctly. I take exception to that.”

Again, there’s more nodding of heads. And then there was a fair amount of whispered chatter too.

I could tell the anxiety level in the group was beginning to peak. Perhaps I misjudged my audience. I thought they were with me, but at least some of them were either resisting or confused by the concept of a good death. So I decide to circle back to see if I could head off their growing concern.

I addressed the man in the back of the room who was still standing and leaning slightly on his cane. “I think there has been some misunderstanding. When I use the term a ‘good death,’ I don’t mean to suggest that there’s a ‘proper’ way of dying. As you suggest, sir, dying is hard enough all by itself, I certainly don’t want to add performance anxiety to the mix. Is anyone else getting the impression that I’m talking about a ‘correct way’ to die?”

Some of the participants tentatively raise their hands.dying well

I quickly took stock of the situation. If a few people were bold enough to raise their hands, others must have been feeling the same way but were too timid to acknowledge it. I decided to approach this in different way. I asked; “If we were talking about living the good life, would any of you feel as if you needed to conform to some arbitrary notion of what the ‘good life’ is?” Most everyone shook their head. “I thought not! So why then, did you make that leap when I mentioned the concept of a ‘good death’?”

This stumped my audience.

I went on to say; “One of the reasons death is such a hot button issue for most of us is because we’ve isolated death way over at the extreme end of our life. I think that’s a mistake. For one thing, it makes death stick out like a sore thumb, when actually it is part and parcel of life. Death is embedded in life. Nothing is alive that will not die. In fact, more things die than will ever have a real life. Consider the infant that is stillborn. For that child birth and death occurred at the same moment. But just because you and I lived beyond that crucial period in our lives, doesn’t me we were in the clear, so to speak.

If the truth were told, the first breath we took once outside our mother’s womb set us on a trajectory toward the inevitable end of our life. And each of us is old enough to have witnessed the death of many people, some older and some younger; if not personally then by proxy. We’ve all seen the carnage of war, the ravages of disease, and we’ve known sudden and accidental death too. So, to my mind, every breath, between our first and our last, is both our living and our dying. That’s why I say that living well and dying well are one and the same thing.”

I let that settle for a bit before I continued.

“There’s a secret I want to pass on to you. It’ll seem pretty simple and self-evident once you’ve embraced it. And the secret is: we must learn to integrate death into life. Once we do that, death stops being this freakish, scary thing over there waiting for its chance to pounce. Death is actually beside us all along. No, that’s not right! Death is not beside us; it’s in us! We are our death in the same way we are our life.

When we live the ‘good life,’ however we choose to define that, we are also living our ‘good death.’ And that’s what I want to address today. If we want to insure that our death, in as much as we have control over it, be good and wise, then we have to be proactive. Just as we have been proactive in living our ‘good life,’ in as much as we have control over that.”

Before I moved on to my next topic I had one final thing to say about a good death. “If we fear death then, on some fundamental level, we fear ourselves. And nothing good, least of all a good life, will ever come of that.”

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06/12/12

This is an ex-parrot!

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Customer: “He’s not pining! He’s passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! He’s expired and gone to meet his maker! He’s a stiff! Bereft of life, he rests in peace! . . . His metabolic processes are now history! He’s off the twig! He’s kicked the bucket, he’s shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible! This is an ex-parrot!”

— Monty Python


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