‘I am excited by death’
That is how my Death Café session started.
Folks are always bugging about how you must marry, have a child or build a refinery to achieve purpose. What if my purpose is to be a tree?
I am intrigued by churches that pray against death. What we should hope (and pray against) is a painful death or one that involves indignities. But death in itself is inevitable and in a way, pleasurable.
Accepting death will make you live right and embrace living. It is all the inspiration you need to create something that will outlast you. Finiteness is good for humans. There is so much evidence to this effect. Why do you think a 3-day vacation holds more memories and is more pleasurable than a year in your regular abode? It is because of the finiteness of a vacation. You know your time is limited. You have a ticket that states your dwelling hours in that city. So you try to make the best out of it: you visit the sights, lose all inhibitions, talk to a stranger and dance loosely, you ignore the news and live fully. Imagine if you lived life as a vacation, aware of its finiteness and set about milking every living moment for its life? That is why I was at Lagos’ first Death Café session. I was eager to hear from other death enthusiasts.
Wouldn’t you want to die well as you have lived well?
Gathered around this table were people from all walks of life and only one thing was common, an acceptance of death. We knew we would die someday and we saw death as an art form rather than something to ignore and hope against. One of us profits from the Death Industry. She is from the Kalabari Kingdom, an ethnic group from the Niger-Delta rich in resources and culture. Her grandmother taught her mother how she should be wrapped and prepared upon her death. She watched her mother prepare and wrap up her grandmother upon the latter’s demise and that stirred in her an interest for death and its adjunct ceremonies: death as an art and the ceremonies surrounding the preparation of the deceased as an art form. She took online courses and is now an entrepreneur in all aspects of sending forth the dead: embalming, wrapping, make up, casket purchases and cultural specific ceremonies. The Death Industry holds a lot of entrepreneurial promise and it is something to be embraced rather than whispered about. Wouldn’t you want to be buried in a regal casket or cremated with your remains spread over your favourite city? Wouldn’t you want to die well as you have lived well?
Sometimes religion has been mistaken for a shield against death but even religion never promised life everlasting for our mortal bodies. Even the Son of Man died (and resurrected). It is appointed to man to die once. Death is the only way we can meet the Son and enjoy his company.
‘Life is just a random series of good and bad things that happen until one day you die’ – Nicola Yoon
I attended the Death Café alone. I went alone because convincing another to feel as comfortable as I am with death is not a level of spooky I am aspiring to conquer, yet.
How do you want to die? What is the point of living? When do we ever go full circle in life? How do you live life well – is it by being selfish or selfless? Do you know you can sometimes be selfless by being selfish? Ufuoma explained this the other day by showing how in the eventuality of a plane crash, a mother must first wear her oxygen mask before she wears that of her baby. Sometimes, selfishness is true selflessness. Sometimes, the best way to live is by choosing yourself constantly above others. What is the point of living and what is all this talk about purpose? There is some arrogance tied to all these talks of purposefulness, I don’t think everyone needs to be a hero. If everyone has a purpose, who will enjoy the fruits of other people’s purposefulness? Folks are always bugging about how you must marry, have a child or build a refinery to achieve purpose. What if my purpose is to be a tree? We come, we go.
Thirty years on earth could be richer than sixty years so who decides these things about lives being ‘cut short’ and ‘well lived’ based on how long they lived?
What are the questions people ask when you die? Why is a life measured by the passage of time in quantity not quality? Thirty years on earth could be richer than sixty years so who decides these things about lives being ‘cut short’ and ‘well lived’ based on how long they lived? Some thirty-year-old deceased persons that I know have done more for humanity than folks that live to be one hundred and twenty (120) years. We need to be comfortable with accepting loss. The concepts of reincarnation and translation help some cope with this and that’s fine too. You just have to understand that you will die someday.
Are you preparing for it?
A Death Cafe is a scheduled non-profit get-together for the purpose of talking about death over food and drink, usually tea and cake. They educate and help others become more familiar with the end of life. They hold in different countries of the world. The first Nigerian edition of this held on Sunday, April 2 in Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria.