It is fair to state somewhat euphemistically that death is an inconvenience for everyone. In respect of my kind and me, it causes all manner of problems and issues which are especially irksome. Death generally only affects people in two respects. Their own death and the death of other people. Our responses to those two aspects are far-removed from that of the reactions of ordinary people and especially those of an empathic nature.
First of all, how do we regard the death of someone else. The demise of a stranger causes to response from us unless we realise that in order to maintain the façade that it would be advantageous to say “the right things” and come out with those empty platitudes that people do so often when they read of a tragedy somewhere. When this happens and somebody makes mention of some loss of life, perhaps the drowning of a toddler who was not being properly supervised and fell into a bath or the consequence of an aeroplane crashing, I observe the reactions of the collective with interest. There are the expressions of shock, the declarations of horror and how this is such a terrible event. As I watch and listen I do wonder who the greater charlatans are in this event. Is it me who does not care and cannot care but pretends to do so in order to maintain my precious façade or is it those who claim to care about somebody they never knew and would never have known?
If the death of someone is closer to home, a friend or a family member then my reaction is no different save that it is laced with irritation and indeed often anger at the loss of someone who was a source of fuel for me. If that person forms a supplementary source, then there is irritation at this loss but this person can readily be replaced with a new member rising to form part of my coterie. If the person who has been lost to the hand of the grim reaper is a primary source of fuel, then I am consumed with fury. How could this person treat me in this fashion? I gave them everything and then they leave me in the most complete fashion, with no chance of that sweet, sweet restoration. This departure amounts to a criticism of me, a reminder that even someone as great and powerful as I was unable to prevent the removal of a potent source of fuel. Thus this criticism ignites my fury and I rage at the injustice of their death. Some who witness this might mistake this response for an outburst of grief at the taking of this person. It is not that. It is the explosion of wrath at someone who was so potent to me escaping me and thus denying me my rightful fuel and denying me the opportunity to put in place a replacement. I do not mourn their passing away. I rage at the passing of my fuel source.
Do not expect to see me attend the funerals of those that are regarded as supposedly close to me and where my attendance might otherwise be expected. I will not be there. I know there are those of our kind who revel in the drama and the high emotion that is attached to a funeral and regard it as a honey pot for the acquisition of fuel. There are those of our kind who will hijack the occasion and make it all about them, wailing and shedding those false tears in order to draw well-meant sympathy from the other attendees. There are those of our kind who will create a scene at the funeral, arriving late, arriving drunk, collapsing part way through the service, making a snide remark in a loud stage whisper in order to draw reactions from everyone else that is there. Yes, many of our kind will attend and exhibit their over-acted grief purely to draw attention to themselves and away from the person who is now lying in the cold, hard ground. Our kind will express their huge sense of loss, how the deceased was such a wonderful father, caring mother, beloved uncle or best friend. Such a shameless performance which is carefully choreographed in funereal black to maximise the opportunity to have the spotlight shine on them and thus drink up all the attendant fuel. A disagreement will be provoked with another family member and harsh words exchanged. Over the top blubbing will take place with cries of “Don’t leave me!” as the coffin is lowered. The occasion of death and the attended ceremony provides a wonderful stage to our kind to perform our sick routines to make it all about us, fashioned from the pretence of actually caring. We do not care. We cannot care. We resent the fact that this person has escaped us. We resent the fact that everybody is turning out to pay their respects to the deceased and not training their attention onto us which is where it should belong. Should you ever witness melodrama at a funeral do not mistake it for the exaggerating effects of grief and loss, you are observing one of our kind milking the moment for all it is worth.
That is the response of many of our kind to the loss of a “loved one” or a “close friend” who has passed away after a full life or taken too soon. It is not my response. I have only ever attended one funeral in my life and that was the funeral of my father. I only broke my own protocol to do this as a consequence of the diktat from my mother and also at the behest of my younger brother who begged me to accede to her request so that she would not erupt and undermine the occasion of our father’s death. I duly obliged, just the one, purely in order to satisfy my desires however. I wanted to rein in my mother’s theatrics and watch how she really responded to the death and subsequent committing to another place of my father. You may well have read elsewhere in my works of that particular day. That was the only time that I have attended a funeral and I did it to further my own understanding and in order to loathe in my own private way the way my mother was behaving. That gave me tremendous satisfaction.
Thus, I only broke my protocol of non-attendance once and shall not do so again. Why is it that I will not attend funerals when there is such a prime opportunity to take centre stage and draw greedily on all the available fuel? It is a simple reason enough. I will not attend funerals because I do not wish to be reminded of my own mortality. Like a medieval monarch who stayed away from funerals, even of the preceding monarch and his own wives and offspring, because it would cause others to contemplate the death of the current monarch, something which was treasonable, I too will not attend. I have no desire to contemplate my demise. I do not want to recognise that one day all of this must end for this offends my notion of omnipotence. I do not wish to linger at the edge of the abyss that is life, staring into the nothingness of oblivion. Such is the finality of the mortal end to one’s existence, it engenders and raises the very prospect of that extinction that I fight against each and every day through the acquisition of fuel to maintain my construct and keep myself from being consigned into oblivion. To contemplate a mortal death is to invite the horrifying reality of the extinguishing of who I wish to be and that which I must not let happen.
I do not fear my mortal death for I will have my legacy in place and thus I shall live on through that. No, what I would rather not be reminded of, through the occurrence of the passing of others and the subsequent surrounding ceremony, is that I sometimes teeter on the brink on annihilation. The thought of that fills me with despair, only for myself and therefore I choose not to engage in that which will so forcefully and rudely remind me of it.
I know death embraces all eventually. I am not a foolish man and that is why I have worked to secure my legacy so that I may out stride death.
I care not, save for the loss of my fuel, when its cold hand snuffs out the life of others. Our type does not mourn the death of others. We are unable to do so. We are not equipped to achieve this. Never expect any sincere mourning to ever be evidenced by our kind.
I care not to contemplate what mortal death signifies for me in my ongoing struggle to keep such annihilation at bay.