There are two kinds of death: the tragic and the natural. Tragic death is the kind that happens when a person dies before their time; when someone dies by murder or bombs; when an accident occurs; when a child dies. Natural death is exactly as it sounds–a person dies of simple old age when it is their time, and death is more a celebration of life and a return to the Divine than a mourning of a great loss.
I have never felt a tragic death, thank all the gods. The deaths that occur in my family are all of the natural kind (so far). I sincerely hope it stays that way. Recently I lost my great-grandmother due to old age. She lived 99 long years, and led a full and happy life. She died simply because her quality of life had reached the point where she could not be happy–bedridden, half-blind, depressed, she chose to give up the fight and rejoin her loved ones that have passed before.
What got me thinking was something I have heard frequently in the last two weeks: it’s always around the holidays. Specifically Thanksgiving and Christmas. What all of us know, instinctively if not consciously, is that many people die at the same season when the earth rests and “dies.” The darkness is more encompassing. The sunlight is weak. The cold saps strength and threatens to kill. It is a dark and depressing time, and if a person is already on the way to death, winter is that much harder to face. So yes, it is always the holidays. There is something about the holidays. It’s not so much the holidays themselves as it is the season in which they fall. Winter is a tough season for all, and more so for the aged. My family all knew on some level that my GG would not live to see 100. We all knew she wouldn’t live past Christmas, because we knew the darkness of the winter would be too difficult for her to bear.
Something else I was thinking about recently was pagan death rites. I know how some of the ancient cultures acknowledged death, but how to modern pagans manage? Is there a service and a funeral? And how does that fit with something many of us deal with, that of differing religious views of our families since many of us pagans are in the broomcloset? But that is a topic to explore in a separate post, I think.
Incidentally, Hades has been the most popular Weekly Deity on the blog since the end of August…