Death, It Is a Part of Life
While I thought I was learning how to live, I was learning how to die.
—Leonardo da Vinci
I have a practice of burying small, departed animals - left on sidewalks by neighborhood cats, or left by the whirring wheels of passing cars. It seems like a morbid calling, but it anchors me to the life cycle, as well as the shared experience of mortality. When I was young, my mother told me that she had done this - that she had even stopped traffic to retrieve fallen creatures, and nestle them, back into the earth. My mother is brave, and her bravery stems from her compassion. I wanted to be so brave.
Death is far more frightening as an abstraction than as a reality, as a part of every being's life. There was a time when all human deaths were managed and honored within the confines of the intimate home. A departed dear one was the charge of the family - they would dress them, honor them, and prepare them for release.
Today, just as we are abstracted from direct contact with our friends and neighbors, preferring (or relying upon) the Internet, texts, and video chats, to serve our communion, we too are abstracted from death, preferring (or relying upon) funeral homes and professional services to serve our dear ones in their departure.
As with our increasingly abstracted communication, we did not choose this process. It was chosen for us (and with us), as a matter of expediency a… More...