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so like I’ve seen quite a few anti-millennial sentiments published in major newspapers but this has to be the strangest one

This is not from an article bashing milennials, this is from an article about how death has been removed from daily life. Westerners used to take care of their family’s bodies after death and now that is extremely rare in western society. It’s about how this leads to a society where death isn’t discussed, acknowledged or accepted which messes people up (and means that those who are dying often feel isolated because no one wants to acknowledge them either). It still is a very common and natural thing across the world for people to take care of their dead family members and some societies keep their dead around for years so lots of people who commented on this acting like this is a horrific thing to do feels iffy to me. It’s about cultural norms and there isn’t one right way to do it.

People are not meant to completely shun death and that’s what this article is discussing. I don’t think everyone should see dead bodies or care for them, but I also think it’s a widespread societal issue that we do what we do (and it allows for funeral directors to take advantage of the bereaved) and it was a great article about it.

“#‘social death’ is a phenomenon that refers to someone being treated as though they’re already dead #when they are still alive #it is very common for people with dementia to be treated this way #it’s very upsetting #and I think our society’s disconnect from death is a big part of that”

I have SO many feelings about this. The first and only time I’ve seen a dead body (aging millennial here) was when I was about… 26? I believe? My grandfather had just passed away and I was able to make it to their house before the funeral directors took him away. I saw him again during the viewing and was struck by how much more real, more human, the first experience was.

If anyone out there is familiar with mortician Caitlin Doughty, she wrote a memoir about working in a crematory, and founded an organization called the Order of the Good Death. The book, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Stories from the Crematory”, is a great read, if you’re into that kind of thing (it’s hilarious, in a morbid kind of way), but I recommend it over and over to people for a specific reason: she advocates for home death care as a means of fully caring for the dead, and a means of fully living our own lives. The idea is to bring death care, burial, and ritual connected with crossing over back into the home, and to refamiliarize ourselves with death in its natural context.

As a seminarian, I’m a big believer in spiritual community as a possible answer to this problem of “social death”; there’s a reading from the Unitarian Universalist hymnal that contains a line: “we need one another when we come to die, and would have gentle hands prepare us for the journey.” That line gives me chills every time because I feel it’s intimately connected to the profundity of the work that we need to do societally around death. It’s an inevitable process that will happen to us all, and yet so much of our effort and resources are spent assuming that every person is afraid of a gentle journey into death and would rather have their lives violently, painfully, and hurtfully extended.

I also have a lot of thoughts about how our lack of familiarity with death also leads to a callousness and abstraction in terms of thinking about war, poverty, and healthcare. Consider how cavalier politicians are about sending soldiers to fight overseas with no end in sight, on a scale that would be considered unconscionable at any other time in history, knowing that a huge portion of these people will never come home. Consider people who vote the way they do because American patriotism is equated with support for our military actions, regardless of their ethical ramifications. Consider the right-wing understanding of disease as something that only happens to people who make bad choices in life, and the legislation that’s continually being pushed to support that false idea.

I’m convinced that if more people were directly acquainted with the realities of death, they would think harder before mouthing off in support of sending themselves or others to get hurt or killed, or taking away the medication and health care that’s keeping someone alive.

I realize the possible audience for this comment is extremely small, but I second all the above, and add that “This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War” by Drew Gilpin Faust is a very interesting cultural analysis on how we got to here with the whole death thing. (though we can blame the prosperity gospel in part for the weird ‘bad things don’t happen to good people’ turn that right wing thought has taken)

I like this discussion far better than the “how dare someone make a millennial joke about this” response.

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