Death; the only remaining taboo




The reason that many catholic prayers reminds us of our own physical death

is not because we are gloomy and do not enjoy life; it is because the awareness

of us passing from this life to the next, is necessary for balance in our earthly 

life, and for psychological and mental balance and well being. It helps us to 

embrace life with openness and confidence, and to always see the larger picture.


It is a fact that for many, it is only when they realize that they are "on the way 

out", that they remember the things they have done that have hurt others, and 

they die in fear, because their own conscience tells them that there is a judgement 

coming, this is why regular use of  The Sacrament of Confession is so necessary 

during our life time.


Some people, former Catholics, and also protestants, like to amuse themselves 

with joking about  "Catholic guilt" as if it is a mental illness, when the truth is 

that it is about being aware of the things we do that are not good; not for us, 

not for others, and most of all; for us who believe: they hurt God, with whom 

we want to be in relationship with. Awareness and honesty is indispensable. 

It is not about whipping ourselves into an everlasting guilt trip, it is about 

seeing and feeling sufficient remorse and pain to be motivated and find the 

will to change and improve ourselves.

If we say; "but, sure, God loves me and forgives me anyway," that is much 

less likely to produce real change.


I heard someone say that they did not want their grandchildren to see them

after they had died, because it "would leave a trauma".  They said that having

seen their own grandparents layed out in the coffin, had left "a trauma" on 

them when they were young, and they did not want that for their own 


But there is a difference between the pain and grief we experience when 

loosing a close one, which is natural, healthy and necessary; an integral 

part of life and not "a trauma", albeit it being painful.


A trauma, strictly speaking, is something deeply disturbing, which has 

the capacity to create lasting disturbances in the psyche, because it was 

something that ought not to have happened.


Although it is traumatic for a young child to loose a parent while they are 

young, we do know, and we expect, our parents and our grandparents to die

at some stage, it is sad, but it is normal, life goes on.


What a healthy and holistic approach they had before when wakes were 

the norm; 3 day long sometimes, when the body, exposed in the open 

coffin, allowed for everybody to come and say farewell individually 

and to pray together for the deceased, and then stay around with the 

family, neighbors and friends, to talk, eat, have a drink, cry, tell stories, 

laugh. Nothing more natural than that, people got the opportunity to 

process the death that had taken place.

Death is part of life, when someone we knew well dies, it is also for us 

a timely reminder that one day it will be us.