What comes to mind when I’m asked what I believe death is? Well if I’m being honest, I’ve never actually took the time to elaborate on the meaning of this word so my ideas are not all that certain. However, when I think of death, I see it as a term with many meanings. For instance, death can mean the passing away of a living organism or it can have a different meaning like the death of an idea (a legacy or a belief drifting away) or even something as simple as saying, “My phone died”. The term doesn’t always carry the same meaning. Therefore it can be used in many ways depending upon the circumstance. In addition, this term is something that could be described as “predestined” because, in fact, no one lives forever. So in a way, I see death as the opposing force of life, even though there’s more than likely more meaning to that word.
After reading chapter 14 in The Art of Being Human, I confirmed that the meaning or idea behind death can be seen from various perspectives, as I once assumed. On page 384 in the textbook, the authors explains how the idea of death can be defined in numerous ways. They make different references to death such as “An enemy that is out to get us” or “A natural event, part of the universal cycle.” From what I gathered, the first reference refers to death as something that we as mortals cannot avoid ; the second reference refers to death as a natural occurrence or the nature of life itself. Who’s to say they’re not both relative to one another? It is also stated in the Images of Death article how death is often portrayed by dark figures or ideas such as candlelit tombs or skulls or other dark characters such as the Grim Reaper. So yes, death can normally be seen as wicked or evil but isn’t entirely all that. On page 385, the authors mention how death is often celebrated in a “life-affirming fashion” to honor the memory of those whom have passed away. For example, in Mexico, a tradition known as El Dia de Muertos or in English: The Day of the Dead, is a day when family members, associates and/or relatives come together to decorate the graves of loved ones, which is then followed by a celebration that includes various foods which just happen to portray death, such as cakes or candies in the shape of skeletons. So overall, this idea has also become a contributing factor to certain traditions that are celebrated in a form of love and harmony.
On page 386, the authors also described how the idea of death has influenced many works of visual arts, music, drama and literature. They believe that this subject has helped us value and give meaning to life which is why death is portrayed so often in popular arts. And not only that but us as humans have often wondered what death is like which is why the idea became so popular in horror movies or murder-related films. It’s the sense of wonder that has led humanity to elaborate on the subject more and more frequently. However, this way of thinking has also led us to the question, what happens after death? Is there an afterlife? This is why many forms of religion have erupted throughout the past centuries. As the authors indicated on page 390 in the article, Belief in the Afterlife, several religions present ideas of the afterlife. Though none are proven to be fact, they are simply ways of helping the human mind gain understanding on how to live life.
After watching the documentary “A Certain Kind of Death”, I’ve come to the conclusion that this film describes what happens to a person with no relatives and to his/her belongings once he or she has passed away. For instance, throughout the film there are many cases in which corpses, that were found in crime scenes, appear to be identified by Los Angeles police investigators. These bodies were taken into custody so they can be brought to the medical examiners for further study. Once that process is over and the bodies have been identified, the investigators begin to reach out to people whom may have been associated with the victim in any kind of way. The reason for this is so someone can claim the victim’s body because it is disposed of. If no one claims the bodies, then they are sent to be cremated and/or buried. Their merchandise or property on the other hand, becomes auctioned. This film helped me understand the victims’ lives, as in what they were like before their time of death and how certain circumstances may have led to that particular point. But most importantly, this video put aside all “beliefs” and presented to me what actually happens to a person once they have left this world entirely.