Dealing With Death – An Existential Response

Today my grandpa Bill passed away. There will be no funeral, no ceremony, nothing. He is gone from subjective existence, and nothing will change that. Our family has known for a long time that my Grandfather’s death was imminent. He has been suffering from dementia for the past few years, and as memories began to slip away he lost the ability to recognize his grandkids (like myself), and even closer family. There were always moments of clarity, I imagine like the one’s everyone gets when the world just is a clearer picture. My grandfather was a wonderful man in life, and this shone through in moments like Christmas, where he picked up my little 2nd cousins harmonica I had bought him, and wailed on it. I saw him this Christmas, as frail but still vibrant, although he was clearly confused about his surroundings. I’ve known for a while that Time would have it’s fancy, and I thought I had resigned myself to the impending moment.

Yet I was wrong.

I’m still stunned, still semi-in-denial, and yet there is something rather accepting about death. While death still may be an unfortunate imposition on the creation and expansion of human consciousness, it doesn’t change the fact that we still have to live our lives at this time knowing we are going to die. Are we supposed to hide away from this fact? Deny its existence, repress our knowledge that  Time will have its fancy tomorrow or today? I don’t know if just ignoring the existential problem is inherently limiting, and doesn’t allow us to embrace life. We don’t have to be so afraid of death, that  we refuse to live life, as one person I met told me. To a degree, I’m unsure if we can totally embrace death. I mean it’s literally the end of our existence, its understandably terrifying.

I think that moments like my grandpa, reaffirm my desire to live, my need to live life to its fullest, because I know that life will at one point end, and that to leave life as if I had never really lived with would be such a disappointment as I waited for it to go. Those last moments of sadness would be filled not by my imminent death, but by the fact that it had all been for wasted, with opportunities laid to waste on the ground before me. Kierkegaard had this idea that understanding and embracing our death would lead to madness, and that we would be left weak from Fear and Trembling. I disagree on the merit that in a world where there is no meaning, we are free to create our own. I see death as something ever-near yet far as well. If death were to take me tomorrow I would be disappointed in my lack of exploration, my failure to find love, not my unemotional end. These aren’t strictly repressions of death, but they are a means of superseding it.

That’s a little romantic, but that’s what makes life liveable.


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