I found an article on the consolation of death “buried” in my papers from a couple of months ago–and I’m glad I did.
The Wall Street Journal (10 April 2012) has a very interesting book review of “Death” by Shelly Kagan.
The book is about how do we live knowing that some day we will die–how do we console ourselves?
Here are a combination of the the ideas reviewed and my thoughts on them:
– The Hard Stop–Since life and death, for each of us, cannot coexist, we are either alive or dead–“no one will ever encounter their own death”–so there is nothing to worry about.
– Not Me–We live life never really believing that we will die–instead, “death is something that happens to other people.”
– Live Without Attachments–As Buddhism teaches that we should cast off attachments, self-concern, and suffering–hence, the loss of own self is a “nonevent.”
– Live The Moment— We should live in the present and enjoy life, rather than mourn the past or worry about the future.
– Live a Full Life–Live a full and meaningful life, and then perhaps, we “don’t cry because it’s over, [but rather] smile because it happened.”
– Leave a Legacy–If we leave a legacy of our children and good deeds, then we live on even once we are physically gone.
I was always taught that since no one ever really came back from the other side to tell us what happens to us when we die, we should not be overly focused on it.
I remember overhearing some old men in synagogue debating what happens to us when we die–one taking the position that we go heaven and the other stating that death was the end (he put it more crudely though-something about us being dead no different than a dead dog!)
In the end, since it doesn’t pay to worry about what we don’t know and perhaps can’t even really fathom, I think all we can do is our best every moment that we are alive–and leave the rest to sort out to G-d, afterward.
The consolation then is if you tried your best, what more can anyone askof themselves or others?
In terms of the picture, the L’Chaim candy bar is a little reminder not to take everything in life so seriously either–live life and live it well. 😉
(Source Photo: herewith attribution to Uberculture, Jeremy Noble)