Death! For the longest I did not know how to feel about death. I used to get sad when a close person would die, but I’ve only experience extreme sadness for a loss only a couple of times. Deep inside I always felt a certain type of peace regarding death itself, its more the experience around death that bothered me a bit. I used to get scared of the burial and cemetery rituals.
The first time I attended funerals I was 8 years old. I did not like the experience because 3 funerals were celebrated jointly and there were too many people screaming. Couple of ladies fell on the floor, screaming, passing out, and it scared me. That day, I learned from my mom that crying at funerals was a business and often women get paid to do that. They are called ” les pleureuses” : the cryers. I thought that was funny.
After these first funerals, I attended so many other funerals that I became indifferent at some point. Mostly towards the people I didnt really know. You’re probably asking yourself why the hell was She attending strangers funerals? Well I have an explanation. I use to carpool with my uncle to go to school every morning, and for a reason or another almost every week he had to attend funerals. And since we were kids, he could not leave us by ourselves in the car, so he would make all 6 of us go down to pay our respect with him.
Along with my regular presence at funerals, every year for the day of the death on november 2nd, it is a family tradition to go to the cemetery and visit my family’s grave after assisting a mass in their honor. And I was scared of this shit! The national cemetery in Port-au-Prince is the creepiest I have ever been to. The first time I’ve been there I thought I would die. There were multiple broken graves with open caskets and skeleton parts all over. On top of it, many voodoo rituals are performed during this period and they scared me.
I specially got traumatized by a woman who was standing on a fire where hot peppers were burning. She was sweating tons and her eyes were almost popping out of their orbit. Apparently she had no underwear and both the fire and the peppers were burning her lady parts! That scared me and haunted me for a while. But after my mom explained to me the origin of these rituals, I just accepted them for what they were. However, I am still a bit frightened when I see them every year I am just no longer scared.
But It’s really my mom’s attitude towards death and our conversations regarding death that made me realized that physical death should not be considered a sad event, but rather a stage of life, a must, the continuation of the circle of life. With that mindset I always think people are off to a better life than the one they have on this heart. To be honest, life in this world is not that perfect, so if we consider the stereotyopes of the after life, the future looks way better when you’re dead, or I must stay, physically absent from life as we know it.
All this make me think that death is more of a state of mind , state of being than an actual physical occurence. A lot of us are dead while we are physically present on earth. Depression, Illness, worry, resentment, anger, narcissisism, greed, ect… are dragging us down and putting us down. We become like walking zombies, with no emotions, following lifeless trends. We forget our surrounding, we forget the people we live with, and we eventually forget ourselves. We forget where we are, we forget who we are, to finally forget why we are…
WE simply ARE, breathing air, doing the same things with the same people at the same places without even realizing we are a life. But are we really alive?
I agree with you that death is a mindset. So many times we give up on ourselves to make it easier to get through each day: we shut down emotions, adopt the majority opinion, don’t contemplate our actions. And that is how we die.