The Gift of Death: A Reflection on Death and Dying

by Nestor Ravilas

Humans do not fear death, it is the suffering that comes before death that scares them. This, however, is not true. The prospect of ending this life is what frightened us most. Apostle Paul intones this ingrained fear of death when he said, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death!” From Paul thereon, Christianity has been generally viewed as a religion that is completely insane with the problem of death. As a threat to life, it is actually impossible not to agree with Paul, and the subsequent history of vilification of death in Christian tradition. Gilgamesh on his part provides us the ghastly picture that is lacking from Paul. “No one sees death, no one sees the face of death, no one hears the voice of death, yet savage death is the one that hacks man down,” he said. Mythical stories humanity was able to preserve were marred in one way or another with the presence of death in their story plots. Death is so formidable that most of our cultural wisdom, medicine and religions, are all pursued in search of the meaning, if not solutions, of the problem of death. Philosophy included, on its emphasis on moral life, must not be construed as passive or unaffected of the threat of death. Rather, its stress on justified existence is its best way of making sense of one’s death.

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