On death

The subject doesn’t scare me. At all.

Think about it. INTPs love to discuss and the bigger the subject, the better. We look at it objectively, fascinated, like it’s a science project. Thus my calling death ‘a subject’.  If philosophers held back on talking about things simply because it made them uncomfortable, they wouldn’t do very good in philosophy as a whole. You have to be able to talk about stuff like that even if you’re uncomfortable. I would go as far as saying because you are uncomfortable! But simply because I can distance myself from it, as well. I can’t philosophize as easily about death if I’m directly faced with it (who can? It’s all emotion, shock and numbness then). And I must admit, if I can’t distance myself from a subject, I have a hard time verbalizing it.

The distancing is significant, thus my gallows humor. I can’t take death too seriously. We are born to die eventually, after all. It is the one certainty in life. Despite sounding like such a simple notion, it is a complex concept. Am I talking about natural death that comes with old age? Or death that comes with sickness and war, mercilessly snuffing out innocent, bright lives before their time? Or death that comes with the most common of accidents; a stroke of lightning, a traffic accident, a lit cigarette in bed? How much can you laugh and when? It is always a matter of context and how you look at it.

But I can’t spend my life shuffling around and fearing the inevitable death. I’ve had some close calls in which I pondered on my sheer luck, but haven’t we all? Life it’s like the lottery (more so than a box of chocolates). Sometimes it’s you, sometimes it’s somebody else. It’s beyond your control, so why stress about it? But yes, sickness is perhaps the one thing I fear, and especially what comes with old age. Rheumatism, backache, forgetfulness, not being able to move around by myself, being physically dependent on somebody else. All such things. Sure, I can try and prevent it beforehand but most of those things are down to the body itself in the end.

Of course, when death, old age and sickness coincide close by, I do tend to clam up about my ‘oh so pompous’ notions about death.

When my grandfather died a couple of years ago, I entered a rather gloomy period of my life. It had happened while I studied at university in another city and everyone from the one side of the family but me having witnessed his quick demise which left me ambivalent, emotionally confused and alone. This was mostly my own fault. ‘Why couldn’t I just have gone home?’, you may ask, and I asked that myself. But I just couldn’t handle it, I think; witnessing his demise. It also seemed so pointless for me to go home and sit around with my mother and her brother at the nursing home while he slowly passed away, delirious and incoherent, having given up on life and basically starving himself to death. He was old and had lived a full life without any sickness before – but it was just … too hard. I just couldn’t. There was nothing I could do – it was his choice. I had my studies, too, though they mostly became a lame excuse for wallowing in self-pity. I couldn’t even put that much effort into those. This was also followed by a rather severe winter depression that year and the following … I think … it’s all just really a blur. I did surprisingly well with my studies despite not really caring and I kept postponing my exams. The arrival of spring and good grades can only do so much but at least it got my mood up, more or less.

I don’t know if INTPs are more prone to depressions. Or if I even had one. I reckon (winter) depressions are quite common no matter who you are, and losing a family member always affects you, no matter what you feel in the moment or tell yourself. Though, it’s different from person to person. I didn’t even cry at my grandpa’s funeral. I mourned and cried in private instead. I remember how I was sick with grief, broke down crying, when I was almost physically forced by the family priest to say farewell to my grandma after she’d died of cancer. She was unrecognizable, lying grey and thin in a hospital bed in the middle of my grandma and grandpa’s darkened living room where I’d spent so much time throughout my childhood. I couldn’t face her, couldn’t look at her. I wanted to remember her as she had been; colorful, good-humored and lively. Not like this. I was just a kid and so angry with the priest for violating my grief, for not letting me grieve and say farewell in my own way, for not listening to me but only rattling on about her own notions of decent, healthy, Christian leave-taking (my ass!); that, for some reason, it was important to voice my farewell. Ugh. And angry with my parents for not stepping in (as usual), but letting her bodily pull me towards that room of sickness and death where the rest of the family stood around my grandma’s dead, silent body. I do so hate it when people physically manhandle me.

Are we still talking about the specific nature of an INTP girl? I’m not sure. Everyone has tried to lose a loved one, a family member, after all. My dear, overactive mind digress.


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