On Thursday, to my knowledge, a bird and a woman died. The bird, a pet parakeet belonging to a friend, died at 11:03 a.m., after a long life; the woman, a friend of a friend, and an acquaintance of mine, died at 8:04 p.m., after a relatively short life (48 years), one that seems cut terribly short. Both deaths were witnessed by people who love the dying creatures, who were sad they were leaving, who found it hard to watch them die, who cried, who mourn and grieve, who will remember. In the case of the woman’s death, other lives will also change, and perhaps major decisions will be made because she is gone, because she was here.
On Thursday, if it was an ‘average’ day, about 155,000 people died around the world (and about 363,000 people are born). It’s hard to comprehend that one or two people die every second. Since I started typing this 10 minutes ago, if this day is average, about 1,000 people who were alive when I started are now dead. Their lives and deaths change other lives.
I can’t find any statistics online about global animals deaths per day, but it must be in the billions, counting insects and microbes. Even considering only mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and birds — pets, animals in the wild, farm animals, circus and zoo animals, animals killed by hunting and human transportation and slaughterhouses — millions must die every split second.
I’m not railing against death. True, it seems an odd system, but then so is birth. As long as we have birth and a finite planet, death makes some ‘sense’, I guess, or we’d run out of room even faster than we are.
What I’m thinking about here is just how incessant, constant, and ordinary death is, and how the death of someone we love feels so surprising and extraordinary to us.
I think that is why I love Six Feet Under so much :) I think that series dealt really classily with the whole cultural “fear of death – shove it under the carpet” thing.
I wonder, too, why so many Christians seem as scared of their own deaths as so many non-Christians. In some ways I can’t wait to die … but I’m not goin’ round spouting that one too loud because people think I have a deathwish – but the weird thing is that I think it’s closer to a lifewish than a deathwish.
I’m sorry to hear about your friend :(