I have been continuing to reflect on the idea that people have a fear of death, and that this fear is translated into some sort of idol worship, with the object of trying to minimise or distract from this fear. That observation gels with someone thing I read somewhere once, that whatever worldview you end up adopting, it needs to offer some sort of explanation for the 2 big realities of death and suffering.
I found a book in my local library today: Poems and Readings for Funerals, edited by Julia Watson (London: Penguin, 2004). It consists of just that – classic poems and items, all dealing in one way or another with death. It is fascinating to see the broad spectrum of responses to the unescapable reality of death. I thought I might share them here over the next few weeks or so.
The first reflection: denial.
‘Death is nothing at all.’
Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away
into the next room. I am I, and you are you. Whatever we were to each other,
that we still are. Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way
that you always used. Put no difference in your tone, wear no forced air of
solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was, let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same that it ever was; there is unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner.
All is well.
Henry Scott Holland (1847-1928) [page 7]
But this doesn’t explain the sense of loss that gives rise to grief at all, does it?