The Peculiar Etiquette of Observing Death

*Art credit go to Michelle Seres*

“Such a profound concept; so frightening and chilling, death seems to ravage our minds with a brilliant flavor of brutality and evil. Such a gorgeous idea; so simple and difficult to grasp, death seems to infect our hearts with a cruel and tortuous fever. Such a wonderful and dreadful event, death seems so natural and yet so foreign. After glimpsing death, we are left with one notion; we must continue trotting on, working and toiling away so one day we can die. For death is a peculiar concept to grasp and even more difficult to describe,” Julyan uttered from across the table.

“Indeed. Death is so strange. Haunting, yet beautiful one might say,” Gyles nodded.

“Exactly! Death is one of those peculiar concepts and events in which we are drawn to. Yet, at the same time, we feel obliged to be repulsed by this ominous subject. The concept of death is surely alluring to some; I would even wager some people are attracted to the sight and scent of it,” Julyan

“Such thoughts are sickening yet justified,” Gyles shuttered.

“So, now I turn to you and ask; what is to be said to another when they have witnessed death? Or perhaps a better way to pose the question is; what is to be said of the curious manner in which we observe death?”Julyan laid out the question.

“I do not know. I know little on the subject of death; I have heard few thoughts on this matter other than the popular ones: death is unavoidable and final. Death reaches out to everyone, it leaves no race, creed or countryman unmolested. Death is the opposite of life, as opposite as night and day if not more. Death isn’t irreversible, where the coldest night will always come to an end. But still no matter our resentment for death: all life converts to death after a particular amount of time. Indeed, this is strange,”Gyles mused.

“So many things are susceptible to death; perhaps living beings are at risk most of all. But also ideas are surely within death’s range. And as one ages they become more familiar with death and its horrendously enchanting spell. They witness just how many things are truly fragile and powerless to death’s cruel and charming voice,” Julyan thought aloud.

“And why is this? Why do we come to embrace death, whether we wish to or not? Why are we robbed of time with our family by this natural affliction? Why I ask, are we unable to conquer this natural obstacle after we have mastered so many others? We carve the land up at will; we harvest trees, gems, oils and animals to calm our cravings. We climb mountains and dive in the depths of the sea; and vanquish the great beasts of our world. We have even launched ourselves from this planet; fought wars in the air and strolled on the moon. We have conquered so many natural barriers: and yet death remains untouched,” Gyles stated.

“It seems to me that the act of observing death is one rooted in fear and helplessness. The inability to aid a loved one when they are struggling to breath or they are in a heart – breaking amount of pain leaves one to drown and choke on sorrow. Powerless thoughts that can leave a person secluded in the vacant spaces of their mind haunt the witness. Such a peculiar place we are forced into when approached by death. Such a place, riddled with upsetting emotional energy. Such a place we dare not venture otherwise, unless brought there to pull a friend back to light,” Juylan rambled changing the subject.

“We want not to venture near the realm in which death forces us to. We want not to seek out the darkness in which death dwells. And yet, we must. We must seek out this darkness if we are to conquer death. We must venture into that evil realm that death occupies. We must pursue the beast if we are to smite it. We must; unless we wish to remain mere subjects of its rule,” Gyles said firmly.

“And now, where do we stand at the conclusion of our discussion? What can we say of this peculiar etiquette?” Julyan questioned.

“Perhaps all that can be said is all of which was already known. For once death issues its remarks unto a person; they are drug into shadows and forever silenced. For once death issues it’s call; the broken souls of our peers follow. And we, the ones who have yet to hear death’s secrets, are left alone. If we were not left to mourn this loss, what else have we to do? Live a life filled with anxiety or apprehension? I think not. I think this thing we call death is a consequence of life. It is not a monster or a person or something alive. I believe death is simply the next step in our life. Quite possibly it is the final step; but who are we to make that claim? How can we make such a statement without knowing what occurs after death?” Gyles offered.

“Well spoken. Now, I must ask you one final question. What are we to say to a child that has witnessed death? How are we to explain what has transpired?” Julyan asked unsatisfied by the results of their talk.

“How am I to explain this complex of a topic to a child when I could not explain such a concept to a full grown adult who is in command of their faculties? How am I to explain death to a fellow philosopher? How am I to grasp this concept?” Gyles asked confused.

“Perhaps that is the secret that death holds over us all. Perhaps that inability to explain the mysteries that surround death cause some to fear it, for it is seemingly powerful. Perhaps this unexplained aspect draws some people to death; to worship it almost,” Juylan considered.

“This is similar to how people flock to churches and pray to a god without empirical evidence of his existence,” Gyles announced.

“Exactly! They gather together, attend a sermon and are lead to the belief that they know something about this god; however, they are basing their “knowledge” from ancient story books,” Julyan explained.

“You’re suggesting that we create conjecture about mysterious topics and ideas so we feel more comfortable,” Gyles said.

“Yes, yes I am,” Julyan smiled nodding his head.

“Are you suggesting that a lack of knowledge helped foster our fear of death? And that from this lack of knowledge we have crafted this peculiar etiquette of observing death?” Gyles inquired.

“Precisely that,” Julyan asserted.

“You mean to say that a lack of knowledge causes us to fear something?” Gyles said softly.

“I do. Without knowing anything about a specific topic how can we know if our fear is justified? How could any emotion or thought regarding a topic be justified if we know nothing about the topic? Judging without research and knowledge is a wretched mistake. One cannot have a belief without justification; that would be madness!” Julyan explained further.

“Are you suggesting that our fear of death is unjust? Even perhaps, irrational?” Gyles asked cocking his head to the side.

“Indeed I am,” Julyan asserted.



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