We should celebrate both life, death


Pat Kempfer, Opinion Editor

The culmination of one’s physical existence comes together in the most beautiful display in its death. Why should we ever run away from such a beautiful expression of existence?

There is, of course, something to be said about the fear of death. It is a difficult notion to grasp. However, should we ignore the sadness of death, thereby forsaking the beauty of its life? Does that not undermine the very essence of life itself?

Anyone who has ever lost someone close to them can say the most difficult part of dealing with that person’s death was processing the concept of their actual death, and sometimes even before the fact. I have witnessed so much death, some may say too much, and yet, with each new death that I have the privilege of observing within my life, comes a completely new feeling of sadness and loss.

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about using. No, it’s not what you might think, and there’s no need for concern. What I mean is that we, as a people, “use” many things on a day-to-day basis to assist us in coping with the multitude of life experience we encounter in new challenges, obstacles, and discoveries, and sometimes those coping tools are healthy and fruitful, while other times they can be detrimental, or even deadly.

It has been brought to my conscientious attention that I have been less than compassionate with some over the years whose practices differ from mine, and treated good people going through a hard time with less respect, whether direct or indirect, than they surely deserve for their continued recovery efforts.

There are those in recovery who place so much emphasis on clean time that recovery can sometimes end up taking a back seat to the overall gravitas of this human survival experience. However, while the bottom line, as always with those in recovery, particularly those with substance use disorders, is simply remaining alive, if we are not in pursuit of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in life, then our recovery journey could become dreary, and we may even lose interest in its continuation.

In the last year, alone, I have had to say a reluctant goodbye to a close friend at a rate of 1 person every 6 weeks, and while not each one was a direct result of overdose, all of them suffered from addiction. It is an insurmountable weight of tepid grief that never gets its closure.

When any individual person—whether it be a human person, a dog, a fish, or an ant on a rock—when that person passes on and into a new level, shape, form of being they leave behind a legacy of some sort. It is like the supernova of a star, but although we cannot see with our eyes the impact of such and emotional and spiritual explosion we know that that person’s life in their deaths has had a tremendous and profound effect on the world around them.

So, I say let us not shy away from death simply because the idea frightens us. I say embrace the beauty of death so that we don’t have to suffer the aloneness or abandonment of passing through and into anew, because just as we are welcomed into this world we should be also welcomed out.