What IS the lesson of mortality?

[I have never posted in GD before, forgive me if I’ve selected the wrong forum.]

It seems to me that no matter who you are or what your circumstances in life the lesson of mortality sooner or later plays out before you.

We all see our elders grow infirm, decline and perish. It disturbs us and we may choose not to look too long or hard. But we know it all ends the same and then there’s no escaping it.

Yet time passes, life goes on, and we move away from the lesson. Because we don’t want to see perhaps. Can’t process it, what ever.

All of our lives, must be filled with all the same lessons. Tragedy comes into every life. Grandparents die of old age, children are struck with withering illnesses. Suddenly and awfully someone holding up the sky in your world is just gone. A sibling, a best friend.

And it stops us, and holds us in it’s grasp for a time. All the things around us are just as they were yesterday and yet everything has so clearly changed.

But you cannot really live in that lesson, and so with time you move away from it and closer to, I don’t really know what, back to denial I suppose.

Please don’t think I am all goth and death obsessed, far far from it. I had a difficult object lesson in mortality as a teenager that definitely shaped how I lived the rest of my life, it left a mark on me. I thought I’d taken from that experience the ‘lesson’. I cherished the ones I loved more, and I gave forgiveness more freely and I lived in the ‘now’, I knew life wasn’t about money or status, I knew some pretty important things . It surely left it’s mark on me, and in a very positive way, I can say now with the hindsight of many years.

You see, I sort of thought, I guess, that I had learned the lesson, fully. But in those intervening years, whenever death touched me or mine, I was still caught terribly off guard it seemed, none the wiser. It was unnerving still, uneasy and hard to look at with clear vision.

Not everyone’s life is exactly the same and in the past few years mine has indeed taken an unlikely turn and suddenly the issues of mortality had become my daily bread. I am the primary caregiver to my bedridden (paralysed stroke survivor) Mother in law. And to be very candid no one could have forseen that 4+ yrs later she would still be alive and kicking.

It’s been a long journey to be sure, but that’s not what this is about. I have, to some extent steeled myself against the inevitable end to this. Or maybe I thought I had.

Through out these years I have been caught off guard repeatedly. I was wiped out when M’s best girlfriend of 60+ yrs passed before she did and M couldn"t even attend the funeral. It just broke my heart. I was kind of sideswiped by that one, she was still in such good health when M’s devastating stroke came. No one would have imagined that she would be the first to pass. Broke my heart, and I began to think the lesson of mortality was more cruel than I had first suspected.

I see M suffer every day, I don’t know why she’s still alive somedays. I’ve learned not to think about it too much. It’s been over 4 yrs after all, you can only gnaw on that bone so long.

I sort of had made my peace with it, in some way. I still worry, even after all this time, when I wake up every morning, ‘is she still alive?’. But it’s too challenging day to day to fall into that too deeply.

Then a couple of months ago I had an experience that got me thinking about these things all over again.

I went into the hospital for a routine mammogram and left, with an appointment for a biopsy, followed by the inevitable, and excrutiating 3 wk wait for the pathology. It was those three weeks that got me. Keeping in mind that my mother died of breast cancer and I had just had a very excitable friend go through the exact experience I was having and end up losing her breast. She was rightly lathered up about the whole experience and in some ways put herself through hell. I spoke with her everyday for a while, it’s all good now though. As it was for me, all good. (Sometimes microcalcifications are just that, and only that).

Here’s the thing, I couldn’t hardly get myself worked up about it. I mean I thought about a lot of things. But I never lost any sleep, ate well, never got drunk. Nothing. My friends thought I was being very circumspect but, really, I just didn’t feel it to be quite honest.

Is it possible the lesson of mortality is just numbing?

I’m sorry this is soo long, and disconnected, your thoughts would be greatly appreciated however.

If you want people to disagree with you and tell you how and why you’re wrong then I can think of no better forum.

It just is what it is. It can be numbing in a sense. The facts are that no matter how acutely aware of your own mortality you become, you still have to go pee whilst you’re waiting around to croak.

I don’t think there is a lesson in mortality; at least, not beyond whatever you and your experiences decide to imbue it with.

I think asking this question is akin to asking “what flavour is a triangle?”. The question, while it can be posed, is meaningless since flavour is not a propery of triangles. Again, the only lessons that may be learned from mortality are those which are derived from one’s own particular cultural bias.

The lesson is that life ends. Try to enjoy it while you can.

That’s easy…brown.

Bad example. Someone out there might just have a rare form of synaesthesia

Nope! the flavor formula for the triangle is:


The fru is for fructose and the…
[sub][Dodges tomatoes…]


Um, the cool thing about mortality is new birth. I guess learning that is a lesson.

I don’t know that it is as simple as, enjoy life, though there is an element of that surely.

Foolsguinea you have given me something to work with, because you are so right. Parallel to all of these events there has been rebirth, in one form or another. That first traumatic brush with mortality and I was reborn now that I think of it.

It’s not clear in all of these circumstance perhaps but I could easily believe that it is there somewhere.

I thank you all for your thoughts on this.

elbows If I might humbly suggest, you may be misphrasing the question. It is not the lesson of death, as much as it is the lesson of life. The reason, perhaps, you are continually relearning the “lesson of death” is that you are really just learning new lessons of life. You have not experienced death yet. You will not learn that lesson until then. In the mean time, your lessons are all about life.

This may be disjointed, but msmith537 reminded me of my newfound philosophy during my mom’s death.

In 1997 my father died of mutiple cancers. (Well, heart attack, but family members of cancer patients know what I mean)

January of '05 will be 2 years since mom died. Acute Adult Leukemia. Diagnosed after 15 months of symptoms and 2 months before she went into a coma. The Mayo Clinic even somehow missed it and dismissed her. They just couldn’t seem to figure it out. (If I can calm myself enough to not get banned, I’ll start a Pit rant sometime)

Suffice it to say, I’m not allowed within 1000 feet of the Mayo Clinic because of how they treated my mom. (Being dismissed) I may or may not have a list. :wink:

The night she died, my wife and all my siblings were standing outside the hospital, and I decided then and there I wasn’t going to waste any more time doing what I wanted to do during my life. An average age of 70 years seems a good amount of time, but it goes by so frigging fast. There is no time to waste.

We’ve finally (with my swallowing a bit of pride) decided to seek help getting pregnant. There is little time left for us to start a family. And losing both parents in thier 50’s was a real wake-up call that life really is too short.

Not sure if this means anything to your OP, elbows, but maybe it’ll make sense to you. Otherwise, it helped me by saying it all.

Good luck.

about this thread, about mortality.
The lesson is, that all the power-mad-evil-sadists that seem to rule life are also doomed, and that their schemes are utterly pointless and futile. Thus you can laugh at them (at least in your mind). Of course, if you try to tell them this in person, living being to being, they look at you as if you are totally insane, and ignore you (at best). At worst - ooh, don’t think about it.