My two daughters and I had a spontaneous discussion the other evening about death, that to my surprise greatly eased my worry (as all parents have) about how our children will fare after our death.
We were talking about my new lawyer shoes that the salesman said would easily last two lifetimes. One of my daughters, in response, said: “Daddy, but you will not live that long.” I responded “You are exactly right, but I certainly plan to be around as long as I can.”
My daughter’s comment prompted me to remind my girls that it is likely inevitable I will die before they die. And, I said that although they will be sad and feel a loss, they will have the strength and ability to move on in life and not be crushed by my death. They will have the emotional durability to continue with life without being persistently burdened by my death, etc. My oldest daughter then responded: “I will be crushed when you die; but, then I will be un-crushed.” I replied: “What a great response!”
For purposes of this blog post, let me just say the attitude and responses from my daughters give me a great sense of comfort and repose about death. That is, my death and its potential effect on them. I am actually quite surprised at how strongly I feel relief after this discussion.
Also, my purpose with this blog post is not to try and compel anyone as to how they should think or deal with death, etc. But, death is a topic I believe needs to be openly discussed.
And, for me the ultimate, most satisfying perspective I know of about death culminates in a passage from Robert Persig’s fine book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. More specifically, the passage is about Persig’s son Chris who, at age 11 rode with Persig on the motorcycle trip described in this book, was stabbed to death 10 years later as a victim in a failed-robbery attempt.
In the book’s “Afterward”, that Persig later added after Chris’s death, Persig describes his own persistent “stuckness” about his son’s death. This stuckness appeared to have no possibility of resolution.
But, in an extraordinary, moving passage in this Afterward, Persig describes a comforting resolution to this stuckness about his son Chris. I believe Persig’s commentary is one of the more satisfying responses I have found to the hard, difficult question about death.
Click here for a link to Persig’s Afterward.