Is death morbid? May be to most people. I’m a physician and so I’ve seen some instances where death is a release from pain. In those cases death becomes the antithesis of morbidity. Some people wait for it and welcome it. Some even expedite it.
But the glorification of death in popular media has got little to do with a practical approach to it. Death is glorified because we fear it. It is joked about for the same reason.
I would be nothing if I didn’t read Sigmund Freud like my life depended on it. All of my life’s experiences have been proved to be almost predictable by using Freudian psychology in hindsight.
Freud says that humor is a form of a defense mechanism and we joke about frightening things the most. This explains the romanticism around death also.
Death is also probably more impactful than life. Hamlet wouldn’t have been lamented as widely as his death caused him to. Desdemona wouldn’t have been empathized with as she has been if she hadn’t died at the hands of her love. The biggest love story of all times, Romeo and Juliet, became a classic because of the lovers dying in the end.
People want to see some redemption of death because it’s so final and fatal. They want to know that death has a saving grace too. They want to rationalize it. Rationalization, by the way, is another Freudian defense mechanism.
But a part of this rationalization and intellectualization of death is also philosophical. Sufism actually focuses on death being a journey of its own nuances and contingencies. One modern mystic character of the famous Harry Potter, Albus Dumbledore, says famously,
“Death is but the next great journey”.
Muslims actually believe in death being a journey and they believe in the afterlife. There have been embellishments of that life for sure. But the Muslim belief in death further signifies how the end of life is so hard to imagine.
The fear of death is natural. I guess there is a little FOMO there too. (Fear of missing out).
This fear has also led popular culture to churn out ghouls, poltergeists, spirits and resurrected dead. This is a way to comfort our inner fear. Death can happen but staying on earth can also happen.
But I have considered multiple things about death and none have had a solid answer. Why is death necessary? According to the famous biologic theory of apoptosis, cells are programmed to die of their own death after a certain period of time. Some are programmed to last longer, causing longer life spans in some people. Some are genetically inferior.
Death probably also is necessary because it is a form of deliverance. I have heard many people say that they’d like to experience it. Now would they like to experience it when it’s staring them in the face is another thing .
I was reading a new writer’s work and she had talked about death in loving terms. I didn’t know her. She puts up her stories on the internet but I was finally able to land on her blog and email her. She asked for my phone number and we chatted for an hour about why she wrote what she wrote. I was young and naive. I asked her what was so great about death. She explained that nothing was great about death but then nothing is great about life either so she chooses to love both equally. It was a weird interaction and not one that left me anymore unsettled than when I read the story but it was an interaction nonetheless and I still sometimes think about it.
To me, death is fear-inducing. Whatever Shakespeare says in Hamlet, whatever Charles Dickens says in David Copperfield, whatever Wilde says in Dorian Gray, I’ll always consider Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher the closest sensibility to death and illness .