Someone’s father died recently and another’s dear friend ended her life unexpectedly. Talking with them both reminded me of my own experiences with loss. With a simple flip of the coin, life becomes death. The moment we enter the world the clock starts counting down the hours until we die. It’s a fact.
We celebrate the cyclical comings and goings all around us — first day of spring, midsummer, and autumn; first day of school, mid-term, graduation; birthdays, weddings, and retirement parties. Each marks a milestone along the path from birth to death. We celebrate the “happy” events, but avoid the “sad” ones. We don’t much talk about the latter and so they come as a shock, leaving us to cope alone as others awkwardly step aside, lest they be infected.
“The cup’s already broken” goes that old Zen saying. Everything we know and cherish comes with a built-in guarantee of impermanence. Nothing lasts. Why then are we, educated and intelligent beings that we are, so surprised when death comes knocking?