Thoughts on Death: No Zombies Involved

The apocalypse, and considerations thereof, usually lead to some consideration of death. Depending on your perspective, death itself could be a form of apocalypse, as one form – what we know as the state of living – comes to an end and may go onto … something else.

Just before Christmas, I found out my grandfather has cancer. With his age (he’s in his mid-eighties), it’s not supposed to progress as quickly as if he were a young man. And realistically, I know that his heart or other ailments could be as likely to get him as this newest known threat. Obviously this has gotten me thinking more about death, and loss.

White Trillium flower, source: acobox.com

The thing is, though I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it, I think it’s mostly because even in my fiction, I generally try to steer away from thinking or focusing too much on death or dying. Yes, it’s a part of life. When it comes to the apocalypse, no matter how it comes about or when, death is likely to be involved in some capacity. I know this, on an intellectual level at least. But I guess there’s a large part of me that just doesn’t want to accept these truths, which leads to avoidance.

Avoidance, though, is in my way of thinking a kind of cowardice. So I forced myself to at least consider it, and found myself almost mourning my grandfather prematurely, as though I had already lost him, rather than that there was a possibility of loss.

I think it’s the same if you consider the apocalypse or death, or other forms of sudden loss and extreme change all the time, if you obsess about them. How long before you begin to miss the opportunities that today presents, the wonder of our current world because you’re too worried about what it will be like when it’s gone? How can you fully appreciate the beauty of a mild spring day if you’re wondering if this will be the last you or someone else will see?

While avoidance may be a kind of cowardice, it’s a vice I allow myself more than I should when considering death, dying, and loss. Because if I continue to wonder how many more Christmases I have with my loved ones, what it will be like when they’re gone, I’ll miss the fact that they’re still here, that the opportunity and time to demonstrate my love, to enjoy the present as it is.

Perhaps we all need to remember to live in the present more often. Yes, we may plan for the future, but not at the cost of experiencing the moment we exist in. Because to neglect the present for some unknown future entirely would be the greatest loss of all, and one we would only recognize when it was far too late.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

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