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The Quietus

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(I hope you're prepared for completely unrelated imagery)

To talk about death is to almost invite it into our lives. We've all been touched by death, and although rarely a positive thing, sometimes we need to talk about death.

I have a group of street drinkers that collect by my flat. At 8:15 in the morning I can expect from 1 to 8 old men drinking their Tenants Extra Strong or K Cider. Although seen as 'undesirables' for an up-and-coming area, I don't believe they are bad men. My conversations with them are brief and honest. One man, his mum is in hospital with Dementia, he told me 'I know it's bad, but I hope she's dead soon'.

In discussions about dementia there is a question of quality of life. Were I to lose my mind so utterly and completely? I wouldn't want to live like that. I wouldn't want to watch someone I love become a shell of the person they were. I get it. Those in later stages of Dementia, they are well cared for, but I don't think there is a quality of life there. Not a quality of life that is enough for me.

These things though, death. It's nature is that it is deeply personal, and even when surrounded by love ones, that journey, whatever happens next, is a solitary thing. I'm not scared to die, I'm scared to not have the control over how and when I go. I hold no ideas of what does happen next, but I stopped being scared of that a long time ago. I'm well versed in a variety of philosophies and am aware that different religions have their own ideas of the next.

Camus proposed that the only true philosophical question is that of suicide in the essay The Myth of Sisyphus. It's an essay on the philosophy of the absurd, that no matter how hard man searches, there is no God and life has no value or meaning. Camus advises that instead of suicide in the face of the absurd, we should actually revolt. If we take Camus' ideas that the world is unreasonable and we're all searching for reason, then we must continue living this contradiction, because without us the absurd can't exist.

In 2006 Sophie Calle filmed her Mother dying of cancer. Calle, afraid that she would miss the moment of her Mother's death, documented her last days. Worth noting is that the viewer does miss the moment. Although the film does show Calle's Mother dying, the viewer would not know, such is some last moments.

Markus Zusak wrote 'The Book Thief', in which the tale is narrated by death in Nazi Germany (and no, I haven't seen the film).

Scroobius Pip, on the Distraction Pieces podcast discusses Dignity in Dying and euthanasia. The episode raises good points and questions. It highlights that we are failing some who are dying and it's ok to admit that if we're going to do something about it. For some, they're trapped in a rock and hard place and that's not good, especially not at end of life.

I'm dreaming about death and thinking about death and thinking about my future. It is a certainty that I will die, everything else is questionable. To talk about death is not to be ungrateful for living. To talk about death allows us to express our fears and our wishes before we die.

In a conversation with a friend, she said when she dies she hopes that people don't say 'she loved life' because she doesn't and she has been plagued by Bipolar for many years. I get it. I know it's not Christmas-sy to talk about death, but so many this festive period will die, by their own hand or otherwise and it's important to remember that. It's important to help as much as I can.

Does this post even have a point? I think it did at the beginning, that it was important to discuss and give an opportunity to discuss death. That death not just features in life, but in art and philosophy and books. That actually talking about death shouldn't be scary or upsetting.

Or maybe, and most likely - I'm still grieving a million deaths and I needed to get it out of me and send it out into the world.

THOUGHTSErin Veness