A Better Image of Death…As the Last Dance

By Will Randolph

older-adult-better-image-of-deathDeath is a frightening thing for most of us. We fear the unknown and our images of death are all cemented through the loss of loved ones who pass before us. Likewise aging has a negative association because it almost always ends in not only symbolic deaths like frailty, loss of independence, and loss of abilities, but it ends in real death. It is to us as if death in old age is like the slow motion video of a car crash;something we see coming and are powerless to prevent or stop with the result being too painful for us to watch. I think that it is the loss of control rather than the fear of the unknown that bothers most of us about death. This is especially true for Boomers like me because we have become accustomed to controlling an unprecedented portion of our lives but we can't control death.

But what if Death was not something that we dreaded but could look forward to. One way to look forward to death is the image of a dance. Remember how in high school you look forward to the prom. If you were in a relationship, you looked forward to the whole night and spending time with your beloved. You were excited and marked off each day before the big day and you planned for it, imagining what you would experience and its joy. Then the day came and you dressed up and the photos revealed you truly radiant and beautiful even if ordinarily you were not pretty. And you went to the prom and it became a celebration of belonging to your high school and community, and of the connections with friendship with others also there. And in celebration you danced with others who were your friend. At the end of the night, before the dance was to end, you looked for your beloved for the last dance and you hoped that the final song would be wonderful and one you loved. And as the final dance began you silently wished for yourself that this dance could last forever because it was already magical, mysterious, and amazing.

Death should be like that something we look forward to before it occurs, it should be a celebration of our lives with friends, it should be about dancing finally with the one who loved us first, loved us most, and loves us best. And it is not a matter of wishing we could remain in our beloved's warm embrace forever, because this is a dance that doesn't have to end, and can go over for ever......