Death is a Jerk

Death Bah!

I’m sure if there is a personification of Death, they are really sweet. It’s the consequences of their actions that are horrible. So he/she is a Jerk.

It’s a strange concept that haunts and terrifies me.

I remember when I first realized that someday I wouldn’t exist. I was in the car with my mother and had just clipped my seatbelt in for the hour ride to the nearest big town for groceries.

My whole world went black for a moment and I thought I might faint. I must have been seven or eight when I realized that someday I would end. Instead of doing the intelligent thing and talking to my mother about it, I internalized it and it freaked me out.

But Death only terrorizes the living. As far as I know, once you’re dead it’s not scary anymore. It’s those left behind that feel the pain and fear of death.

I’m older now and slightly wiser than my seven year old self, I hope, and I’ve come to realize that Death should be scary. It should paralyze people but it’s important to remind ourselves to appreciate what we have and those around us, while we still can.

Happy Birthday Mom

I lost my mother shortly after my twenty-fifth birthday. She’d been sick for several years, but it still took me by surprise. I had come to terms with my own mortality at seven but I never came to terms with hers.

Today is her birthday and I miss her.

She raised me and helped shape me into the man I am today. More than that she was also my best friend for a long time, I knew I could tell her anything.

It’s been over five years now and it still hurts the same, I think it always will.

Thank you and Happy Birthday Mom. I love you.

Death in Writing

I tend to shy away from killing my characters. I mean real death, not superhero death. It’s not that I’m afraid to, it that I’m afraid of not being able to give the death the emotional weight it deserves.

That last thing I want is to write a story or book, kill off a character, and be the only one who grieves.

The threat of death, and the history of death, drives most of my characters as I imagine it drives most of humanity.

Another reason I don’t often kill off my characters, especially in short stories, is that they’re going to die anyways. I’ll finish the story and their lives will end. It’s one of the reasons I hate writing short stories. I feel for the characters and then they are gone. It hurts in a ridiculous and silly way.

Question and challenge

Has there ever been a death in something you’ve watched, read, or listened too that hit you hard? Did it surprise you? Thinking about it now, was it important to the story?

I’m going to challenge myself to write a story where someone dies and see if I can make the Jerk come to life in words.

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3 Responses to Death is a Jerk

  1. Great post and an interesting question too! The second I read it I remembered the death of Jack Twist in Brokeback Mountain. For me it was definitely a surprise and the ambiguity with which the director left it in that the watcher is unsure of the way in which he died, through the story his wife gives of the images in Ennis’ mind, leaves you thinking long after the movie ends. It’s a movie filled with so much pain and looking back, the death was important. For me, I think that he did die in the way it was described which makes it all the more painful because it’s a realisation that Ennis and Jack could have had the life they had wanted, perhaps without the fear Ennis was worried about. Sorry for the mini-essay, thanks again for the post! =D

  2. I kill people (IN FICTION!) all the time. The first death I wrote almost killed me (slight exaggeration). I literally called my mother in tears after writing it…. and had fought it for six months before finally caving and writing the damned thing.
    The first character that I had read whose death I remember being strongly affected by was from a David Eddings story. I cried for ages afterwards. I loved him very much. I’m not sure it was necessary to the story, but it was so well done that I don’t think it mattered all that much.
    I think that dealing with death in fiction is actually a good thing – it is a relatively safe way to experience and process the one unassailable reality of life – it ends.

  3. Jen says:

    I understand what you mean. And I know you can write well enough to do it.
    And yes, read my response to Sonia’s post about death in books. 🙂

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