THERE is no escaping the reality of death. When it comes suddenly, unexpectedly, as the result of an accident or heart attack, we are shaken; similarly when someone still “in the prime of life” dies of cancer or kidney failure. Such events are so common that we all experience them. We are overcome by the sense of our own helplessness: we cannot reverse what has happened. All human resources are powerless to restore a dead person to life. The grieving relative is not easily comforted.
How do people react to the fact of death? The young frankly do not treat the matter seriously. When they have the occasional shock – a friend is killed in a road accident, for example – it is just “bad luck”. The tragedy is soon forgotten. The middle-aged do not care to contemplate death. It is too far off yet to seem a real danger: “Better face it when it comes”. Older people become more aware that here is a reality they will not escape. Their friends and relations pass off the scene. Failing eyesight and hearing, growing physical ailments remind them that the human frame eventually perishes.