Death Becomes Her
I've always loved tarot cards, especially the death card, and am excited to see various interpretations. Contrary to what I once believed, the death tarot card does not actually signify death, but rather generally represents an ending or transition. You will notice in the images above that the card in the middle is the only one that actually has the word death on it. That's because, long ago, it was thought best not to use the word as seeing it could trigger a feeling of unease. I find that super intriguing, because death is one of the few things that we all have in common. If you are reading this, you are going to die. For some reason not many people want to discuss it to this day, but I do, more so now than ever. Let's talk about death.
I think the first time I actually considered the matter was when my parents told me that my cat Rebel was "being put to sleep." I cried because they cried, but then I asked when she was going to wake up. Clearly, I had absolutely no understanding of euthanasia. It wasn't my fault, either. Nobody had ever talked to me about death. I probably didn't know that Rebel was ever going to die, and I certainly didn't know that I would someday meet the same fate. Now that "dying with dignity" is a thing in Canada, I actually might go out on the same note as my beloved Rebel. How fascinating! I just remembered something else. My favourite pet for a very long time was a bottom feeder named Brutus. I had a hard time finding him in the fish tank sometimes, then suddenly he would reappear. I later learned that the original Brutus died and my mom kept replacing him. I was at first shocked, then felt betrayed, then laughed because it's actually really interesting to think about how far people will go to avoid talking about death (or avoid disappointing their children, but that's a topic best saved for another time).
I, for one, think about death every day, and I probably talk about it every day, too. According to someone close to me, my mind generally moves in two directions...sex and death. He's probably right. No wonder I have such a strong connection to horror movies. In any case, I find it strange that those two things are probably thought about the most and are often the most uncomfortable to discuss.
Recently, I became aware of a relatively new phenomenon--the Death Cafe. I was immediately intrigued, so did a little research. Basically, a group of people gather to discuss death and the feelings associated while drinking coffee or tea and eating treats. How cool! The very first Death Cafe took place in London England in 2011, and Canada's first Death Cafe emerged in my home town of Victoria, B.C. in 2012. Today, nearly 4,000 Death Cafes have brought people together in at least 40 countries. I love this! Why should we wait until we attend a funeral to gather in the name of death and dying? If discussion breeds understanding, which I believe to be true, then why are we avoiding talking about the one thing we are all guaranteed to experience?
It's scary. I can admit that. It's weird to think that one day I will take my last breath, and I have no idea when that will be. It might be right now...or...now. Or later. But it will eventually happen.
I look forward to participating in a Death Cafe in the near future, and am considering organizing one. I'm also considering organizing a Sex Cafe, because that could be super fun and interesting as well. And potentially awkward and disturbing. Haha. But, honestly, awkward and disturbing are two things I find to be entertaining, so at least these cafes have less of a chance of being totally boring. Maybe I'll steal Samantha Jones' (Sex and the City) "Starfucks," but instead of a brothel full of hot men, it will be a coffee shop full of weirdos (like me) discussing sex. It could happen.
Circling back to the topic of death, I will leave you with Caitlin Doughty's TED Talk about the business of death and how much our culture's relationship with the dead has changed over the past century. She encourages us to be involved in caring for the dead, and not just through grieving. According to Doughty, "Death is not an emergency. You can take the time to sit with the person, hold their hand, tell stories." In closing, she says that "There is a gorgeous reality when you allow yourself to be closer to death." Hmm. I'd like to chat with my funeral home homies and get their opinion on all this. Until then, I will continue to wonder and won't fear the reaper. Or at least I'll try not to.
I'm finally doing it--pulling my insides out and splattering them around for all to see. Here we go!