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Monday, March 04, 2013

The "tragedy" of death

My son died a few years ago.  He was 37.  It was a tragedy.

Or was it?

Death comes to all of us, apparently.  It's normal.  Everyone does it, sooner or  later.  The demise of this fragile body-mind organism is an everyday occurrence.

What's tragic about it?  The tragedy is in our thoughts.  We, looking on, talking about it, make the tragedy.  It doesn't exist anywhere except in our minds.  There would be no tragedy were it not for people making it so by means of their thoughts.

When I die, please for your own sakes don't anyone make it into a tragedy!  It will be just a normal occurrence.  Perhaps for a while some will feel a sense of loss, if they have got used to having me around; but I hope no more than feels absolutely necessary. 


  1. lots of philosophers, beginning way back with Epicurus, believe that death cannot be a harm for there is no-one remaining to be subject to it. Harm requires someone BE harmed. We do get sad about the deceased person's loss of potential, but let's face it THEY don't!
    Western perception of death these days is pretty twisted I think. We're not very good at dealing with it, as you say, as a normal occurrence. We fight against it and spend so much of our lives fearing the inevitable. THAT is the tragedy really, isn't it?

  2. I don't fear death per-say... I fear my children dying as they are young. I fear me dying for them...that would leave them with no parent at all. Though I am sure as years go by and they grow and move on with their life's, that fear will subside. Death as you say is inevitable, if one is born they must die. I accept and find peace in knowing that it won't go on forever and feel no need to deny or fight what already is.

  3. Death is such a complicated subject...with many visceral reactions we often can't explain. Carpe Diem


  4. Mouse said it wonderfuly


  5. Years ago I taught childbirth classes, and then had the privilege of coaching mothers through labor and delivery. To be present at the moment of birth is an amazing and awe-inspiring thing. Since that time, I've been present at the death of my father, my brother, my father-in-law, and Tom's mother. In each case, I've been struck by how similar the faces of those who are dying look to the faces of those being born. I don't know that it MEANS anything at all, and I won't attribute more significance to it than it deserves, but that is my observation.

    When the day comes, Malcolm, that you are no longer with us, I will miss you. I'll try not to overdo it, but I WILL miss you.


    1. Thanks, Sue, nice to be a little part of someone's life. There are a few people in this little blogging community I would have liked to meet in person, and you are surely one of them.

      Very interesting, what you say about faces just before the time of death. I used to believe in re-incarnation, but nowadays I have to say I simply don't know whether any part of us remains for further journeys, or not. I have had plenty of relatives and friends die, I have been present at births, but never at any deaths. I was present a mere few minutes after the deaths of my two youngest daughters, but I can't say I noticed anything then, life had already left anyway.

  6. Malcolm, my sister died at the age of 37. I didn't know about it right away, and until I knew, there was no tragedy to me, everything was normal until I got the news. Maybe that confirms what you say, that tragedy is in our minds, our perceptions.

    Once I knew, it seemed like a tragedy to me and to those around me. I agree, we all die, but it seems to me that dying too early, dying "out of season", is tragic.

    1. sin, I'm quite sure that in my mind there is no absolute tragedy; that tragedy is what we make of an event. Dying young is a common, natural occurrence. When my two little girls aged two and one died, I too thought it was a tragedy; but now it doesn't appear so. Tragedy, suffering, is a result of our thinking.

      Incidentally I think we have an exaggerated sense of the importance of human life. Life is going to happen, death is going to happen whatever we do. Death, young or old, is regarded with more equanimity in this country than in Western society.


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