Experience of the Deaths of Near and Dear Ones

Everyone who is “called into existence” – and supposedly becomes thereby the recipient of a precious gift – finds themselves condemned by their own parents not only to experience the death of these parents themselves and to have to go through the hard work of mourning therefor, but also to experience the deaths of grandparents, aunts and uncles, older and younger siblings, as well perhaps as the deaths of many members of their family by marriage and also those of friends, colleagues and house-pets. These experiences of the deaths of near and dear ones count among the impositions of existence that it is impossible to get around.   We know from the very start about everyone born into the world that, in the words of Julio Cabrera, “he will lose people he loves, just as people who love him will eventually lose him”.[1] Even if one is an only child and has parents who were themselves only children, so that only one’s own two parents and four grandparents along perhaps with a small family by marriage come into account, one must still reckon with twelve experiences of the death of dear ones.   So as not to have to experience death close-up friends, acquaintances and even family members tend to be left, everywhere where modern mores have become the norm, to die alone.

Jakob Burckhardt addresses this evil of the experience of the death of near and dear ones as a constant component part of our Conditio in/humana in a remark included in his Greek Cultural History about what Greek life, on balance, amounted to:

“In Solon’s story about Tellos the greatest happiness in life is said to consist in two things: namely, in his having been able to die fighting for his country and in the fact of no one in his family’s having died before him.” “Once a family exists, however, one must reckon with the misery of separation and of death. The nurse in Eurpides’s ‘Hippolytus’ says at one point that it is best that relations between human beings should stay distant and superficial, so that it can never come about that one has to bear the pain of two…” (Burckhardt, Greek Cultural History: On the overall balance of Greek life)

[1] „que perderá a los que ama y que los que le aman le perderán… (Cabrera, S. 60)

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