I can easily say that the words I am speaking to you now will not be understood exactly as I understand them. A lot of what I am trying to say will get lost in translation from me to you. We are different people and we achieve different results from the same situations. There is no real way to compare my life to yours, and at best we can only hope to meet somewhere in the middle and partially understand one another. Yet I do know one thing, I am eventually going to die, and in the long run so are you. I believe that death is the one universal experience that truly unites people everywhere. We don’t like to think about death because we put so much stock in our life and the things we deal with every day, but none of life would really matter if it weren’t for the finality of death. In that regard I believe death is a beautiful experience, but it has the power to be even better as people realize how uniting it is.
Recently, I’ve been volunteering at a grief resource center. Working there has put death in my face, and shown me how it can really transform people and families. When confronted with a death or some sort of fatal illness, people come together to offer support, share grief, and even just to talk about past experience and re-live old times. It can really bring distant families together. My family was one of the most disconnected I’d ever seen, and yet when my grandfather was dying they all seemed to gravitate to the same place to watch it happen and be there for one another. People coming into the grief resource center are really only united by death, and yet they form one of the strongest communities I have ever seen. The distance between people seems to melt, and they really connect and understand one another. Its amazing how things in group sessions can be said with half phrases and partial references, and yet everyone understands in the same instant what the person is really going through.
When people are dying they often want to feel connected to life, or tie up loose ends, or just reach a state that makes them feel prepared for death. Some don’t get that opportunity, and they go out like a flash, but those that are terminally ill, like at the grief resource center, truly analyze life and death. Some find comfort in fighting death, others in re living the glories of life, but they are all united by death, and illness. I wish more people were comfortable talking about death, or even thinking about it.
I believe that my generation, my age group, all too often feels immortal, and that ultimately leaves us feeling disconnected and self-centered. I believe that some of us never let go of that feeling of immortality, and spend life alone or misunderstood. I believe that I may not know how to speak Arabic, but I can relate to a Saudi Arabian person on the level that we are both going to face death eventually, and we only have a limited amount of time to live. I believe that you may have different religious beliefs than me, may like different music, and may believe in different things, but we both know what death is, and on some levels we both fear it. I’m just a 20 year old from Wisconsin trying to find something real to believe in, and I’d like to believe in a global community or that we are all people and therefore the same. And although these things may be true, it’s hard to compare one life to another in fact its impossible for me. The only common ground that I can see is death. It has a beautiful power to unite people and to really bring us together. All of us die, and we can’t always agree that all of us are truly living.
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