Death

Aubade. BY PHILIP LARKIN

I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.

Morning Folks! Is that what you wanted to see on a blog post. A first verse from a poem that’s a meditation on death and dying? In these times? Probably not.

So why have I put it out there? I think it’s because despite all the daily statistics about the numbers of daily deaths many of us haven’t quite confronted or looked at our own fears of dying and mortality. We know that we will all die but we are uncomfortable truly coming to terms with it. But this virus has shaken things up. It’s stark message is that any one of us, at any moment could be infected and could be one of the unlucky ones that ends up dying. It does affect older people more but there are plenty of younger and healthy people dying as well. It feels like it’s out there, ready to pounce and any of us could be next.

That prospect of imminent death is clearly always there but the virus has put it centre stage and made it a collective anxiety. Every single one of us could be susceptible to it and it’s very uncomfortable. It makes us consciously or unconsciously face our dread of dying. There’s no avoiding it and maybe that’s not a bad thing.

Of course for some, there is no dread or anxiety because they have faced the reality of death and come to some accommodation with it. For others death holds no fear because they are either fed up of life or have the comfort blanket of their faith to envelop them in hopes of an afterlife.

For the rest of us we can either push the subject away or confront it. Push it away and I believe it will not actually go away but will haunt your subconscious manifesting itself as unease or anxiety. Confront it, maybe for the first time in your life, and there could be a surprise.

Philip Larkin confronted death but found no comfort, only dread and some great poetry. Others though have found that confronting death is not only natural and normal but can also enhance our experience of life. To know what will inevitably come to pass can make us appreciate what we have in this very moment in time. It sounds trite but it’s true.

So, far from being depressing; confronting our own mortality, honestly and without pretty embellishments, could be the best way of enhancing our enjoyment and appreciation of life.

So let me finish with a positive view off death to counter balance the dread view of Philip Larkin. Here is a quote from a writer from the Buddhist tradition, Sharon Salzburg:

“I think [meditating on death] could make us a lot happier, we can feel free from so many of life’s irritations and annoyances and be truly in awe of the miracle of life and the time we do have. If we deeply see the folly of holding on, we can be much more in harmony with the flow of change.”

Maybe a message we will all get from this situation is a reminder that humanity and individuals are not in control of everything, that things do constantly change, our lives are indeed finite, but being alive is something we often under appreciate.

This rumination has helped me, (I tend to be more Philip than Sharon) so I’m going off now to eat a fantastic breakfast, walk outside and tell someone now how much I love them.

It’s good to be alive.

Jim X

32 thoughts on “Death

  1. drgettingsober

    “Being alive is something we often under appreciate” – that is so true Jim! A great post for the times and a reminder that what we can control is how we think and feel about the uncontrollable events! Hope you have a great day! 💞

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks, I intend to apart from the trip to the supermarket. I do find that as I get older the world seems a far less controlled place than it used to. Not a a bad thing either. Have a great day yourself. X

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  2. clairei47

    Such a hard thing to consider and accept but you are right, it’s important to try to process the idea of our own mortality for us to really live the lives we have. That’s how we get to be fully ‘in the moment’ I guess.

    Enjoy breakfast and I’m sure you’ll have melted someone’s heart with declarations of love. I hope they know how lucky they are to have you!
    Claire x

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  3. Lovie Price

    it is interesting that your post is on this topic. I recently watched a documentary that expresses this very sentiment regarding why we, as humans, are destined to destroy ourselves because of our inability to accept our own mortality…its free on Youtube..opened my eyes in some really big ways. If you have an hour 40 minutes – “planet of the humans”..the end makes you realize that acceptance is the only way we can actually save ourselves.

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks for that love, I will definitely check that out. Our consciousness is seems to be our greatest gift but also curse. We are self aware and realise we will end and yet that same consciousness seems to put us at the centre of the universe and makes us want to survive. That way lies in inevitable suffering so, as you say, acceptance is the key to both survival and maybe even happiness. X

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  4. nomorebeer2019

    yep, spot on Jim. Everything feels different when things happen to US, not “others”. We write death off as something that will happen “some time in the future”, never now. but it can be any second! There are some great buddhist meditations where you visualize yourself as a skeleton, or decomposing flesh…. sounds gloomy and morbid but in fact it does help remember that this is REALITY and not science fiction. xxx glad you’re still alive though, good to hear from you :). xxxx Anne

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Yes Anne there are many great Buddhist meditations (I cant remember what they are called at the moment he says with google just a keystroke away) but I may give the decomposing flesh one a miss in preference to a nice cup of tea this morning! For me the fact that so many people who nearly die but survive say they now embrace and love life more than ever shows the value in truly facing our own demise.it’s diificult for me though Anne because I have periods where I have some strange narcissistic belief that somehow I’m the exception and am truly immortal. We shall see. One of my favourite lines in a song is from the Flaming Lips song”Do You Realise”. It goes “… do you realise that everyone you know someday will die”. Bloody obvious but always stops me in my tracks. Great song. X

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      1. nomorebeer2019

        i knooooow – I also frequently believe I am immortal. As our friend msnewleaf put it so well, we need to forget all this in order to function in society. I know for sure that otherwise I can veer into “what the point ?” mode, and that is not good. xxx Anne

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      2. Jim Simmonds Post author

        Ah my second nomination for a lobster! I guess this time I’d better respond as it’s from you or I know your feelings will be really hurt😉 I shall have with it! Jim X

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      3. nomorebeer2019

        YES! I want that link to my blog so I can move from 97 to 100 followers, so write lots and lots of compliments and oversell everything to get people to click 🙂 hehehehe 🙂 (I hate the lobster too but I did it out of love for Claire) xxxxxxxx Anne

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      4. Jim Simmonds Post author

        Yeh I know. Claire knows my feelings about these awards but because of our mutual love for Claire- I will respond- I will, I will, and 3 more followers? Bring on the nominations 😉 x

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  5. nomorebeer2019

    yep, spot on Jim. Everything feels different when things happen to us all of a sudden, and not “others”. We write death off as something that will happen “some time in the future”, never now. but it can be any second! There are some great buddhist meditations where you visualize yourself as a skeleton, or decomposing flesh…. sounds gloomy and morbid but in fact it does help remember that this is REALITY and not science fiction. xxx glad you’re still alive though, good to hear from you :). xxxx Anne

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  6. Untipsyteacher

    I’m not afraid of dying, just don’t want pain! Mr. UT has everything organized for me, step by step in case he goes first!
    The thing I don’t like, is if I go first, leaving him alone, after so many years together!
    xo
    Wendy

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  7. gr8ful_collette

    Great post, Jim. I think it’s something most of us avoid thinking much about…at least the physical aspect. Probably as a protective measure. This whole experience has brought it front and center though, as a looming possibility. I think the proper response is to appreciate what we have each day, as you said. Xx

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