These are the sorts of deaths that I carry, not only in my memory, heart, and soul, but in my body. I work to make sure they do not either silence or immobilize me in the quest for social justice. Each death is unique and personal. We can recover from them. Death Cafés are not grief groups where people get counseling. They exist to talk and listen to stories about death, without judgment. They can be more fun than I would have imagined.
Our fundamental premise when confronting any emotion, whether it feels positive or negative, should be one of viewing the emotion as instructive. Emotions are far more than random synapses firing in the brain, more than mere physiological phenomena. And whether or not one concurs with William Blake that “emotions are influxes of the divine,” at the very least, it behooves us to open to the possibility that not only are emotions aspects of our survival mechanism but may well serve an evolutionary function by perpetually inducing us to experience a higher quality of life.
When I began writing this article, a friend of mine had recently entered hospice. While I was finishing the article, my friend died. She was not in the same town as I, but during the past month, we had been able to speak by phone several times a week. Given my friend’s decline and death and its impact on me, I was not taken aback by Daniel Drumright’s essay “The Irreconcilable Acceptance Of Near-Term Extinction,” posted last week on Guy McPherson’s Nature Bats Last blog.