Thursday 5 February 2015


The book that I am reading deals with death. It is violent, disturbing and horrible death that hopefully none of us will encounter except in a book or on the silver screen. It did start me to thinking about death though and how we as humans deal with it. Generally speaking, it isn’t very well.

I have not had to deal with a lot of death in my life. There have been instances, but for the most part the deaths were timely if unexpected. By that I mean the people who died had lived long and full lives full of love and a sense of purpose. We never had any pets as a child so I never got used to losing a beloved pet to sickness, old age or car wheels. We did have guppies once, but to tell the truth I was more than happy when dad dumped them in the creek as they had ceased being entertaining and started to smell a bit. 

For some reason I can’t quite figure out, no one really cares about fish. Oh, some people love the taste, some love to catch them, some think they are pretty and enjoy watching them swim and the odd, very odd, few actually like fish. When a pet fish dies, it either gets flushed down the toilet or buried in the garden to fertilize the daisies. No one cries no one even gives it a thought unless it happened to be an expensive tropical variety and needs replacing. You try tossing a pet dog or cat in the garbage or burying it in the backyard and city officials will charge you with unlawful disposal of dead bodies. Not to mention all of your friends and relatives will think you a cold, heartless, unfeeling and perhaps just plain evil person. 

No, now a pet gets the royal treatment when the grim reaper comes a calling, complete with expensive disposal and cremation in many cases. What do you do with the ashes of a beloved pet? Once again, you can’t flush them or you are heartless and something about tossing the ashes in the back lane for traction on the ice just isn’t right either. I suppose you could find an idyllic setting with trees and wild flowers for poor old Benji’s ghost to romp and chase rabbits. I’ve always worried about inhaling some of the ashes as I pour them out. That can’t be good either physically or psychically. 

I have a box in the basement with our first dog and have no idea what I should do with the ashes. I think I will leave it for the kids to figure out when I die. Maybe they can dump my ashes and Benji’s at the same time and in the same place so that I will have a companion in the after life. That would be kind of cool, like one of the Egyptian pharaohs I would have an entourage to accompany me on the final journey.

When I was younger, it amazed me how well old people took death of a loved one or close friend. I wasn’t sure if they really didn’t care about the person or if they were just so used to death it ceased to have any impact for them. Younger people that lost a friend or parent would become emotional basket cases. They would cry or be sad for days, weeks, months and years, losing interest in their own life and their friends would begin to talk about doing a “suicide watch” on them. Eventually, the passage of time and daily life would bring them back to their old selves more or less. 

I now know that as we get older we get more used to the idea of dying. Our bodies have filled with aches and pains, the foolish things we did when young have caught up with us and left memories and ravaged bodies. Grandparents, parents, co-workers and friends have passed and although they are missed, it is a part of life and somehow we have gotten used to the idea. Some days I wonder if I will be that brave soul or if I will turn into a basket case. I think maybe some place in between.

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