By Sebastien Wilcox for Memorial Post
Maybe a more fitting question would be “what is love?” or “how do they get caramel inside Caramilk chocolate bars?” or better still “is there life after death?” Because questions like these mess with our brains, are purely subjective, and are based on an insurmountable amount of factors – none of which a 500-word blog could ever warrant.
Do we like mourning others? Is that why we read their obituaries? Or is just a morning read minus the mourning that we like? Why do we feel so compelled and get such a jolt of excitement when it comes to reminiscing about this person’s, that person’s or even some other person’s life accomplishments over scrambled eggs and toast?
Reading the obituaries of 27 year-old music geniuses, for instance, has become as common as their very music that influenced us. Not only as individuals or as a generation, but ultimately, as obituary readers.
Yet, it’s not just the aurally-gifted that we praise and shed endless tears of joy for. It’s also the Carl Cobains of the world, the James Morrisons, the Jane Joplins, the Johnny Hendrixes, the Abby Winehouses. For it’s the common man that we often cheer, the cinderella story as it were. The school teacher, the factory worker, the stay at home mom, the ex-pilot, the elderly woman behind the counter in a small town. We feel a special connection as a result of their collective passing. We feel alive. We feel goosebumps.
And maybe that’s it. Maybe in a black and white world where 50 shades of non-consensuous grey come into play, life and death are still our only constant. Yet, the simple notion of feeling alive versus just merely living, is something every human can and should aspire to. And if it takes a government official passing peacefully in his sleep surrounded by his loving wife, two children, 3 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren to make us feel truly alive, so be it.
Why does reading about the obituaries of others make us feel so wickedly warm? So flippantly fuzzy? So carelessly comforting? Is it because we see their passing as a celebration of life? A reminder of the sheer beauty that comes from a life lived? How life is short, sweet and all-too fragile? Maybe, sure, why the heck not, you betcha and pardon, what was the question?
The unverified fact is that these obituaries make us feel younger, healthier, more grounded, more hopeful. The passing of strangers gives us a moment of clarity, where we feel lucky, healthy and rightfully appreciative of everything that surrounds us. So that the simple act of sitting down for a meal and passing the potatoes around the table is all the all-encompassing beauty one could ever ask for.
Could death be the bond, the glue, the backbone that binds us all? Maybe a stranger’s passing plays a larger role in our place in society than we all think?
That’s deep. Six feet too deep, perhaps.
My head hurts. Pass the potatoes.