(For obvious reasons, this post may be upsetting and/or triggering. It does not discuss any specific or individual death, just the concept and my thoughts about it. Here as elsewhere, you are under no obligation to read.)
Death is a distressing subject, and because of that, maybe we don’t talk about it enough. I think it’s actually really important to talk about death when it’s a far-off prospect, almost hypothetical, because when it happens it’s too late to talk.
In some religious traditions, talking about death turns out to mean talking about what comes after death. I’m not very interested in that. Firstly, because I think we can’t know, and I don’t see any logical way to choose between the competing theories; and secondly, because I think it doesn’t matter, we can’t control what we don’t know about. And thirdly because I personally suspect that my consciousness, my self, whatever you want to call it, will not survive death. There’ll just be the atoms of my body, moving on to new things, as they have also done throughout my life.
Your theories about life after death do matter, though, when they lead you to treat people differently in life. Does a belief in Heaven make you more forgiving or more judgmental of people who are alive? Does a belief in Reincarnation make you more or less accepting of people’s mistakes, including your own? I like to think that my belief – that death is the end, and that it is natural, a wholesome part of the cycles of nature – encourages me to focus on the present and to welcome change as it occurs, though I’m sure I don’t live up to that.
Sometimes death seems like a relief or an escape. So far, I have survived my times of wishing for death by waiting for or creating change in my life which made it bearable again; but more than once I have prayed to Hel and Hecate for release, to be taken out of this world which I could no longer stand.
The death of one person, though, always leaves people behind. When it is my time to die, I hope that those who live on after me will celebrate what little I have achieved in my lifetime, and remember that death is normal, it is the only natural end for anything which has lived. (With this in mind, I do not intend to seek out medical treatments which extend my life beyond its natural end. I hope to have the chance to discuss this with a doctor well before I reach that point.)
I don’t have strong feelings about how I should be buried or what ceremonies should be held: if guidelines are needed, the guiding principles should be sustainability, simplicity, and comfort to those who require it. Organ donation is a form of recycling, as is composting. My Goddesses don’t care whether you hold Meeting for Worship or a Druid Funeral or something else or both or neither, They’ll speak to you anyway if They wish.
How do you feel about death? Have you discussed your death with those close to you? Or theirs?