A Mortician’s Tale shows how businesses exploit our fear of death

morticianstale1

Did you know that the process of cremation doesn’t turn your body to ash? It’s actually the cremulator, another machine, which mills the bone down into a fine dust. It’s details like this that you’ll encounter while playing A Mortician’s Tale, a point-and-click job simulator inspired by the work of mortician and author Caitlin Doughty and the death positive movement she helped found.

In the game you play as Charlie, a newly hired mortician at the independently owned Rose and Daughters Funeral Home. Your duties include preparing bodies of the deceased and attending funerals to pay respects to their loved ones. A Mortician’s Tale gives us a new way to look at corpses in video games. Instead of killing a person, we’re asked to take care of them after they’ve died. Rarely do we get the opportunity in games to approach a dead body and interact with it respectfully.

The bodies you prepare in A Mortician’s Tale are low-poly models, with heads that are slightly larger than the rest of their figure. The abstraction of the corpses serves to underline how differently the game treats death. As opposed to being rendered as hyper-realistic, there are no open wounds or blood. Instead of doing the killing, you’re encouraged to spend time with the body as its caretaker. It’s part of the death positive movement which strives to normalize the discussion and fear of no longer being alive, and the game depicts dying as a normal part of the human experience.

morticianstale3

The bulk of A Mortician’s Tale’s narrative is contained within the conversations between Charlie, her colleagues, and friends through a simulated desktop. The funeral director assigns you to a corpse paired with a short description of what services you are to provide per the family’s request. You can choose to ignore the conversations held with the hearse driver or fellow death-enthusiast friend, but that would be a great disservice to the game.

Relayed through these personal messages are the real-life complications that come with running a small, family-owned funeral home, which in reality are often swallowed by larger companies who in turn overcharge for their services. This happens in the game, and its through the story that A Mortician’s Tale depicts the ways in which the western death industry feeds on grieving families by being forceful or adding unnecessary fees to turn a profit.

These larger companies are able to do this arguably because of society’s fear of death and the ways in which the industry of dying is shrouded in mystery and misinformation. Before Rose and Daughters is bought out, players can click a separate tab on their desktop to see how much the funeral home charges for their services. Email exchanges between Charlie and her boss encourage you to be as accommodating as possible to the grieving family members. Your boss is kind, fussing over you to make sure you wear the right gear when embalming and offers praise after a job well done. This is repeated after Big Corporation takes over, and the difference in price and attitude is glaring. Services are more expensive and the messages from your new boss uses are steeped in the language of business. He pushes you to oversell and follow a sales guide, completely erasing the foundation previously set up for you. Do yourself a favor and take the time to read the contents of every exchange, and your experience will be richer for it.

morticianstale2

Then comes the task of preparing the body. Depending on the service, you’ll either be cremating or embalming the deceased. You’re presented with an inventory, where you click and drag items to the appropriate part of the deceased. Step-by-step instructions guide you in explaining what each tool is and how it’s used to prepare the corpse. For example cotton is dragged and dropped inside the mouth to give it shape, and if the deceased is being embalmed, the fluid must be guided through every appendage to evenly distribute the chemicals by following an outline with your mouse that covers the length of a limb.

After preparing the body comes attending the funeral. You walk throughout the room and listen to the tales recounted by loved ones of the deceased. You provide a polite bow to pay your respects. And then back to work you go, repeating the process.

In a world where of videogames where dying is central to the playing experience, A Mortician’s Tale is a rare breed which explains to us how our bodies will be treated after our demise and asks us not to be afraid of the process.

A Mortician’s Tale is out now on Windows and MacOSX via Steam, Humble and Itch for £11.39/$15/€15.

26 Comments

  1. The K says:

    Death positive movement? Hm…i guess we need also a new word to describe the backwards thinking people who in this day and age still dont want to die! How about thanatophobic? Equal rights for dead people! Down with the focus on the living!

    Bad jokes aside, that looks interesting, i read that book and liked it. My descendants should just stuff my remains in a fuel drum and light it up, though. So much cheaper.

    • JarinArenos says:

      I always saw the “death positive” thing in the sense of “have a wake, rather than a funeral”. Focus on the good in the person’s life rather than their death.

  2. Eightball says:

    A “death positive movement” seems to be poorly timed when suicide rates are ticking up, at least in much of the western world (including the UK).

    Skimming through some of the stuff Doughty has online it looks like she’s reacting to the destruction of organic and traditional western cultures as it became absorbed into national and then global capitalism. This interview is instructive:

    link to jezebel.com

    However instead of arguing for a return to traditional burial practices (presumably Irish and then Irish-American in Doughty’s case) she fetishizes foreign burial customs.

    Interesting to me is the obvious but unspoken truth that the alienation of westerners from death (followed by exploitation by capitalists) coincides with the death of Christianity in the West. A quick search of that interview and another piece about the death positive movement came up with no results for Christianity. Seems like they’re sleeping (perhaps eternally) on a huge aspect of this cultural change.

    • Seafoam says:

      I’m 100% sure the death positive attitude doesn’t correlate to suicide.

      Not fearing death is worlds apart from not wanting to be alive.
      If one does not fear death and understands the way it is, they will inevitably understand the value of life too. The thought of death as “a big sleep” or “just a different place you go” leads to people seeking solace in it, which is not the way it goes.

      But anyway, the dead wont give a damn how theyre buried. Their relatives do, since there is the concept of “the big sleep”. Businessmen in the usual capitalist fashion use this opportunity to manipulate them into paying huge amounts for these overcomplicated and excessive rituals that pollute the earth.
      People will always grieve, regadless of religion. But it would be better that the way we show our respect wouldnt need titanium caskets, liters of carsinogenic chemicals and huge amounts of cash to the companies that keep up these frivolous practises.

  3. Mezelf says:

    “normalize the discussion and fear of no longer being alive, and the game depicts dying as a normal part of the human experience.”

    The writer is somehow treating the fear of NOT BEING ALIVE as if it’s some kind of irrational phobia.

    I understand that people who work in the burial industry need some kind of cooky way of normalizing the reality of their job, but this whole ‘death positive movement’ is just… Fucking insane.
    Everything about this game triggers me to no end. Death is not cute, it’s not peaceful, it’s not a fucking flowery final chapter in your embroidered diary. Death is fucking gross, it’s traumatic, it’s suffering and it’s a lifelong scar on the ones that get left behind.

    You don’t experience death. You experience dying, sure, but the state of death is literally not a part of your life.
    So no, I don’t think your cutesy flash game is in good taste.
    Frankly, I think the creator of this game is out of his/her goddamned mind. It’s childish and deranged. I think it’s time to ponder your own philosophy and ask yourself “…is this fucked up?”.

    I hope the game fails. Is what I’m saying. Yeah, I’m mad.

    • Kitsunin says:

      Death sucks, but it doesn’t have to be terrifying. The state of death is literally not a part of your life, so…why be afraid of it? After it has happened, you won’t care that it did.

      Isn’t being afraid of something you absolutely cannot ever avoid kind of pointless? Especially because the amount of fear and the way it manifests in many is crippling and irrational.

    • Nevard says:

      Everyone dies and it’s the extraordinary overemphasis of how bad that is that messes up people’s lives. It is inevitable, it will happen. If that ruins the lives of people left behind, then clearly we have a huge cultural problem, which is where having a more positive outlook on death comes in.

    • Quarabi says:

      Your comment sounds so defensive of the status quo. “Death is fucking gross, it’s traumatic, it’s suffering and it’s a lifelong scar on the ones that get left behind.” And I ask myself, but should it be? Are trauma, suffering and scars necessary, or could a different culture be more helpful.

      And maybe we can disentangle loss and biological death?

    • gunny1993 says:

      Yeah and you’re displaying all the massively negative traits that a death fearing society exibhits. To you (and everyone else really) death causes us nothing but horrible pain.

      Is it really so bad not to want people to experience that at the loss of a loved one or whatever or at least not be brought to the brink of death themselves because of it.

    • bill says:

      From the very little I understand about the Death Positive movement, it’s exactly the idea that death is gross and the fact that that idea increases the trauma for those left behind that they’re trying to address.

      In the west we tend to do our best to sweep the details of death under the rug… morticians etc.. do their best to hide the details of what death actually is.

      Treating death in a more matter-of-fact way is probably a good way to make it less traumatic for those left behind, and also to allow them to move on with their lives.

      Most of us probably have no idea about the things that morticians do to the bodies of our loved ones, in the name of making it more palatable to us. At the very least, this game is really good for introducing a whole load of stuff that you never knew and want to google and read up on.

      I attended a Japanese funeral a few years back. We (the whole family, including kids) washed the body. After the body was cremated, we fished through the ashes to pick up the bones with chopsticks and place them in an urn, which we then took home and was kept at home for about a year.

      I wasn’t that keen on the idea beforehand, especially for kids, but it actually worked very well in terms of dealing with feelings of grief and loss. In a very clinical and matter-of-fact way.

    • Premium User Badge

      MajorLag says:

      While it is perfectly rational and natural to fear death, there is such a thing as having an irrational level of fear of death. A lot of people go to great lengths to distance themselves from it, to avoid the realization of their own mortality and what it means to their lives. It is important, I think, to come to grips with the idea that some day you will end, and ask yourself then what it means to live. How far you’re willing to go to delay death? Would you murder someone else? Would you advocate great horrors and injustices to buy yourself a few more years? What do you consider important in a doomed universe, where nothing you do will change the ending?

    • vand says:

      I agree with all of the above comments, your reaction is exactly the kind of negative feelings that this philosophy is attempting to erase. Basically, one person’s death should ideally not mess up other people’s lives (emotionally or otherwise) – you can still be sad and stuff, but that’s not quite the same as intense existential dread.

      … but ALSO, consider that the people behind this game are part of this business and are very intimately involved in accommodating the feelings you express, so don’t forget to acknowledge their hard work.

    • Zmobie says:

      I also agree with the above comments and want to add that the attitude behind the sentence “Death is fucking gross, it’s traumatic, it’s suffering and it’s a lifelong scar on the ones that get left behind.” is understandable in our culture, but also exploitable. Traumatized and grieving relatives can easily be preyed upon by unscrupulous funeral directors. So a more death positive, or at least a less death negative, society could also help staving off the leeches that try to suck money from grieving relatives.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Don Reba says:

    Cremulator sounds like a machine for making tasty desserts.

  5. JonasKyratzes says:

    For a bit of philosophical counterpoint, let me point to this article: link to currentaffairs.org

    • Nevard says:

      I can’t agree with this with the current state of the world.
      When the majority of the world’s resources are tied up in a tiny, double digit number of people, who will inevitably be the ones to receive life extension advances first, why is this an urgent priority?

      We need to ensure that everyone’s quality of life is equal first, before ensuring that this life is extended indefinitely.
      We need to be sure that we can support a life worth living for a population of people that will only grow exponentially rather than achieve any kind of stability before we create that population, which we definitely can’t do right now while we are failing to do the same for a population that dies.

  6. 3man says:

    Death positive = stoicism for hipsters.

    “Death stands at your elbow. Be good for something while you live and it is in your power.”

    Marcus Aurelius even had a nice beard.

    • Premium User Badge

      Don Reba says:

      Death positive = stoicism for hipsters.

      Stoicism = stoicism for hipsters.

      Stoicism is gaining ground as the ethos of choice for the continent-jumping (self-proclaimed) industry-disrupting Crossfit Millennial. Self-help for the young TED Man, for sensitive people with the desire to do something great, but whose idea of greatness is a TechCrunch article and a keynote at South by Southwest for the janissaries of the Internet revolution.

      The popular cult of Stoicism has whittled the philosophy down from withstanding the iniquity of tyrants to the task of managing disappointment and 10,000 unread emails — inbox zero hero.

      link to medium.com

  7. Premium User Badge

    Neurotic says:

    A truly fascinating look into some very bewildered, and sometimes very disturbed, psyches in this comments section.

  8. Eery Petrol says:

    I speak as someone with a mortician in the family, who has greatly benefited from being personally involved with the process after a death occurs in the family. Today in Western culture there is the option to be as detached as possible from the whole process. But does that help or undermine the grieving process? If you want to be more involved with the process in order to come to terms with what has happened, the death positive movement aims to facilitate that. It is not a new thing to do this. Instead, Western culture seems to be moving towards a more detached approach and the movement aims to provide an alternative option, taking inspiration from the past and from other cultures.

    • DodgyG33za says:

      Working in Laos I was struck by the fact that male (Buddhist) colleagues join a monastery for a few weeks following the death of a significant person in their lives. Taking a break from frantic existence and into the serene to cope with a loss seems eminently sensible, and it is just a shame that it is only a male thing.

      Having said that, many of the ethnic groups in Laos are animist and believe that your ancestors hang around as ghosts and have to be ritually fed etc, with specific time frames for public mourning, family mourning and personal mourning.

      All of which sounds way better than the western model. There is no way I would want either non-biodegradable chemicals pumped into my lifeless body or to be burned with fossil fuels. Although my will makes no mention of this as I will no longer be concerned with the outcomes so rightly have no say in the matter.

  9. poliovaccine says:

    Peoples’ responses here are why a “death positive” movement is needed. They’re why Kevorkian was crucified for what he did, they’re why Terri Schiavo was kept miserably “alive” for so needlessly long, they’re why parents and friends of suicides are told those people are boiling in hell right now for refusing god’s precious gift of life. Death IS a normal part of human experience, it’s one of the only experiences assured to *every single last one of us,* and if you have any reason to value your own moment-to-moment existence with the full weight of conscious mortality, fearing death is about like fearing your first day of school – it’s totally inevitable, no you don’t know what will happen, but not only could it be fine, but if life is any precedent, how fine it is will depend greatly on how positive your attitude when meeting it.

    People who’ve had the luxury of never suffering beyond a certain point will find it easy, even natural, to presume that any form of life is necessarily preferable to any form of death. Those who have to actually do the suffering firsthand, however, may very well come to desire a dignified, peaceful death to a degraded, miserable and devalued life.

    Again, death is *inevitable.* Nurturing your fear of it only ensures you lace your entire being with an ambient anxiety for the duration of your existence – or at least the existence of that fear. There’s a reason near-death experiences such as bad accidents or terminal illnesses tend to inspire folks to live life fully each day. Psychedelic drugs often have the same effect, which is why LSD, MDMA and psilocybin are tentatively being used to address the wholly-rational anxieties of people with terminal illnesses/not long to live. Their efficacy speaks for itself, of course.

    Going beyond death itself, fear is almost never rational. Awareness of threat is rational, but fear distorts one’s ability to rationally deal. Coping with death, not just your own (which may turn out to be the easiest one to cope with of all) but also your loved ones’, is a fact of life, and one it isn’t healthy to avoid thinking about.

    Of course a lot of people take comfort in the notion of some euphoric afterlife experience, tho I think total nullification is most likely, maybe with an intermediary sort of dream stage as your sense organs die. In particular, I had an experience with mescaline which showed me just how dramatically time can be dilated – i.e. to the point where I was counting out “one-mississippi” to the point of ten or fifteen minutes before I’d see the digital clock tick off even one minute (folks who have no experience with psychedelic drugs will typically assume the readout on the clock was a visual hallucination, but those with that experience will understand that, while visuals occur, that’s just not the nature of them, they’re more subtle and incidental than people tend to think, and by far the more likely thing was not a visual hallucination which was isolated and consistent – usually they “reset” with every blink of your eye – but rather an experience of time dilation using the same ability to do so that’s so often employed by dreams). It was that experience with time dilation that made me realize, yknow, even if there is no tangible, consensus “afterlife” we all go to, and all we actually do is wink out like a porch light, just the same it’s completely possible that, in the instant before we turn off altogether, our brain tries one final, concerted blast of self-preservatory effort, and vastly distends your dream-experience of time, so that, within that one little instant, you could be experiencing what is functionally an eternity in dream, left alone with your memories, thoughts, feelings, judgments, regrets, triumphs, imagination – your self. And even though you die and life moves on and you have no ghost or soul to haunt with, still, in your own private nanosecond, things can be stretched out forever. It made me realize it really doesnt matter whether you believe in an afterlife or not, all that matters is how you live, and whether you’ll be proud of yourself when you review things on your deathbed. (That sense is only supported by a recurring dream I’ve had three times so far in my life – two of which times predate any experience with drugs at all –
    wherein I experience waking up from some silly yet vivid dream about a place called “earth” and my life there, before forgetting all about it and proceeding to spend several decades as another being, in some other society or city, with some other family, name, identity, loves, losses, hopes, dreams, memories… and then I go to bed one night and wake up from my silly yet vivid dream about a place called “Planet Sophia” – that’s my mom’s name – and my life there… the subjective feeling is of actually having passed several decades, and then suddenly reverting to a different age and a different identity, and the few times it’s happened it’s been genuinely shocking and disorienting, and frankly those experiences motivated much of my later interest in both drugs and world religions.)

    Anyway – this may seem way off the rails by now, but it’s relevant to the sense that death doesnt have to be a fearful prospect, even with it being unknown by default. Having a mature outlook on death is a far cry from having a death wish. And for the poster who says the timing of this game is a little tasteless given the backdrop of rising suicide rates, to me that’s entirely backwards. It may not be apparent unless you’ve got firsthand experience, but peoples’ general anxiety of death all too often translates into hostility in how they regard someone struggling with suicidal ideation or attempts. People who believe in hell are told that suicides go there, people who are especially against drugs like to call drug use a form of slow suicide (which is sometimes accurate, sometimes laughably not), and even maintaining a standard of quality of life by which it sometimes becomes appropriate to euthanize is a right we sooner give our dogs than our aging parents, or abstracted members of our society.

    The Hippocratic oath impels its takers to do no harm, not to preserve life at any cost, even if that cost is mobility, or dignity, or cognitive function, or overall agency. But ordinary human psychology has drummed up fear of death into a religious issue, because that’s how unwilling people are to face their fear of this one, most inevitable experience common to all living things. It’s similar to how drugs are feared and villified, not because of any times they’re physically unsafe, as evidenced by the widespread celebration of cigarettes and alcohol, but rather because, even just by proxy, they force people to confront that buried anxiety that their own natural hedonic impulses towards warmth and pleasure, and away from cold and pain, will get the better of them someday. When people see a drug-addicted homeless person sitting on the street, some defend themselves, delineate themselves from that person, with outright contempt, whereas others do it with condescending pity, as if having moved past those temptations and torments they’ve never actually known, saying things to themselves or friends close by, “Oh man, I could never let it get that far… I mean sure, I like a drink here and there, but that..!” They reassure themselves because deep down they all know, there but for the grace of god go they. Empathy, sympathy, too much understanding could lead to contamination, they seem to fear. And it’s a totally backwards way to react. Just like it’s totally backwards to react to one’s own fear of death by refusing to contemplate it, refusing to accept its ubiquity, refusing to draw difficult/personal conclusions about the nature and value of your own life, because remembering its finitude necessarily heightens your sense of obligation or duty to those people or things you love, it heightens your guilt and anxiety over every lazy day spent entirely in bed with Cheetos and Netflix. Pretending we have all the time in the world is precisely how we waste it. It’s healthy to remember that each of us is our own finite experience. It’s healthy to accept that. And, contrary to the perception that “death positivity” is positively correlated with higher rates of suicide, accepting death as being utterly inevitable is often the best way to get yourself to “quit trying to rush it.” Besides, the idea that people will be committing suicide because they were significantly influenced by this niche social movement – instead of, yknow, their own individual pain and confusion and suffering – just strikes me as kind of funny in an unfunny way, as it’s exemplary of just how broad the gulf between those who experience such things and those who don’t but try to help. Try and consider these alien demographics as mere potential selves of your own – what would incline you to suicide? Would a death-positive movement really be what did it, some abstracted philosophic discussion in the cultural background? Try and consider that, whether a suicide, a drug addict, a homeless veteran with war trauma, or anyone else in this life, if you had their experiences you’d be living their life right now. That’s what many people try to forget, because the possibility scares them, and having grown up in both areas of poverty and privilege, I’ve seen just how typically the fat and happy take credit for the circumstances and trust funds they’re born into, while the destitute and broken place far more responsibility in the fates and the gods. As ever, the truth is somewhere in the middle, because both extremes are equally mistaken.

    Ultimately, what I’m trying to get across is that no human being has the right to decide when another human being is done living – that’s why we outlaw murder, after all – and by the very same token, no human being has the right to oblige any other human being to continue living when they sincerely, rationally wish to end their suffering. Of course, the impulsive hysterics endemic to mental illness complicate the matter, and there are absolutely states of mind one can inhabit which are absolutely too unstable to properly make such a choice, but isolating that person in their determination of that decision, via plain, blanket statements of dogma, is totally unhelpful, and only abandons them to having their own struggles with irrational self-loathing in private, where no kind, rational, above all *empathetic* voice can intervene. Opening the discussion without prejudice or malice is the only way to have it at all, and many folks dont even realize that prejudice and malice are exactly how their fears and anxieties translate. That much may be obvious in questions of race, but it’s less clear in the social politics of death.

    Ultimately, people treat death as if there are universal protocols, but in fact it’s one of the most personal things we can do, nobody can die for us, nobody can decide for us on our deathbeds whether we are proud of our lives or not. And no one else can tell us when life is or isnt worth living. At bottom, the prejudice against peaceful embrace of death is selfish, because death makes us miss the deceased, and mourn them, and that’s not fun or comfortable for us. But when I hear the parents of one of my friends who killed themselves saying, “How could he do this to us?” I just wince and bite my tongue, because he didnt do shit *to* you or *to* anyone but himself. As painful as it is to bear the suicide of a loved one, you really do have to accept their decision. You may think it rash and unwise, you may even think it spiritual anathema… but you are one life, one vote, and they are one life, one vote too, and neither of you outvotes the other.

    Obviously, in most cases, preservation of life is preferable by far. But most cases arent all cases. I’ve made my own loved ones promise not to leave me in a persistent vegetative state, and I’ve also asked that, even if I am conscious, if I am paralyzed and unable to either communicate the request or perform it myself, I would like to please die, because everything that makes existence bearable to me would be gone in that scenario. Sure, if I were forced to remain alive, it’s possible that I would adjust and learn to eke out new, humble forms of satisfaction… it’s also possible that I’d never adjust and it would be one long torture session, like being buried alive but without even getting to die at the end. And who has the right to force me to live that way anyway? Who has the right to force me to live any way? Of course, in a society, no one has the right to hurt others, but in this case, if others are hurt by what I choose, well, it was my choice before it was ever gonna be theirs, and it’s really their own fault if they’re hurt. All this to say, what happened to Dr. Kevorkian was an absolute sin, and he was crucified for his allegiance to the Hippocratic oath he swore. It may not be appropriate to assist a 15 year old in suicide because she got pregnant and her parents threw her out… but that’s because of the relative odds that the scenario could still resolve happily. It’s entirely appropriate, however, to let an old sick man discontinue the painful, humiliating treatments and stupefying, disorienting medications which keep him so thinly, barely, debatably alive for just a little while longer. Will his kids be upset at his decision? Quite possibly, depending how he’s raised them, but is it his decision? Definitely so, if you’re asking my ethical sense, at least.

    A “death positive” movement wouldn’t be necessary if our social and cultural aversion to death was entirely within the bounds of the rational. It’s just not, which is why such a discussion is needed. There are plenty of clear cut cases where preserving life is obviously the best thing to do, but inevitably people have to die anyway, nobody is preserved forever, and at that point we have to actually deal with this stuff. Instead, as a civilization, we’ve tended to just focus on more and more preservation instead.

    It’s a complicated topic but a necessary one, and one which is really in its infancy when it comes to western civilization. Other cultures have put a little more time and thought into it, and have emerged as more “death positive” as a result. Western thought believes in life and then death – eastern thought more often believes in reincarnation and rebirth, because they more boldly consider what might actually happen after the moment of discorporation. I like the Buddhist detail, too, which says that there is a “soul,” so to speak, but that’s not an irreducible core, rather it’s made up of seven traits which are dispersed and reshuffled to form other “souls” after death – the ego dies, the individual dies, but those things which made them up continue on – and I like that because, as a metaphysical truth, it holds up on both the spiritual and the plainly physical end. Not to say I *believe in* that, but, for its resonance with reality, I have great aesthetic appreciation for the idea.

    Anyway, in another sense it’s just another “heaven,” another ego-driven notion that we won’t just be completely destroyed, that some part of us, no matter how indistinct or nameless, will persist, but in a scientific reality where “energy is neither created nor destroyed” I think there’s some reasonable basis for truth to that. Even if it’s only cellular persistence as we’re eaten and redistributed as discrete particles by bacteria, that’s in turn genetic. Though I don’t think that distinction will matter to us at that point haha, by then we will be, functionally, obliterated.

    Anyway, I’m responding to too many different points here to have a singular closing point of my own, apart from maybe this aggregate one which says that a “death positive” movement is well due, is needed, in western thought, and the majority of incredulous, sometimes even hostile comments here serve as evidence of that. On a gut level, people just reject this notion, and on a gut level people reject eating their broccoli as a kid, we fight throwing up when our body needs us to, but some uncomfortable things are just necessary to a better life, and doing your level best to come to terms with your own mortality (you’ll never know if you did til the time comes, I guess) is absolutely the biggest and most universal of those things. The automatic rejection, and the hyperbolic counter-exaggeration of the plain and simple point being made, is entirely the voice of death anxiety, and I don’t think anyone would deny that. But I also don’t think everyone knows that isn’t necessary, and moreover, isn’t actually helpful. You don’t need blind fear to inspire self-preservation – in fact, a sense of value to oneself and what one does in the world is worth infinitely more. And that blind fear only clouds you when you have to actually approach its turf – in this case being the thought of death. Making up your mind about death is inextricably connected to knowing what in the great pumpkin fuck you’re actually living for.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>