On Death

We mourn the death of our beloved. Mourning is a common human experience. No one can take our place in death. By living our death, we become irreplaceable. It is in death one becomes a gift given to the world. Dying in the very living of death completes one’s journey of being an individual human. In dying one completes the journey of producing one’s self and reaches the stage of irreproducibility. Besides, the one who dies becomes immortal in the sense of not dying again. We die only once. No one can die twice. It is a paradox. Only someone who is dead is immortal. All immortals are, therefore, dead. Death truly gives us the inability to die and we become irreplaceable in our death. No one can take our place as we become no more. Yes, we become unrepeatable in our death.

Some of us do claim that we almost died in an accident or disease and miraculously came to life. This coming back so to say is an undying experience. It is an unexperienced experience. It may be an encounter of death as an outsider which it not the same as dying with ourselves. This unexperienced experience as an encounter with death is also an experience of the death of one’s beloved. When someone we love dies, we too die a little. We recognise the other within the self and mourn his or her death. In the death of the other, one experiences one own unrealized death but has the challenge to rise above this narcissistic cannibalism through ethical mourning. Ethical mourning thus recognises the gift of the dead beloved. This gift becomes precious as one lives to see the death of the beloved.

We still have to consider those deaths where people literally give themselves to death while one is still living. This performance of one own death through suicide is a culmination of a life that seems to live a death while living. It amounts to a rejection of life by embracing one’s death. We do have a duty to ethically mourn those among ourselves who give themselves to death. These people gift themselves to death and death gifts them to us. This death lays a burden of obligation on us to mourn ethically so that we as a society learn to choose life till the final point where we live our death. Without judging those who anticipate death, we have the challenge of choosing compassion and mourning their death

Death haunts us as a possibility of being impossible. It is a possibility of being no more. The challenge is to live a life that is not quite dead. It means we are finite and fragile and can die at any time. This is why we have the ethics of letting oneself die. It is an ethics of handing oneself to death. It is a challenge to gift oneself to death. This giving oneself to death has to occur in a calm and equanimous manner and at a time not fixed by the self. This gifting of our life to death converts us the dying one into a gift to the world.

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