Our subcultural esthetics are ripe with images of and allusions to death. Almost every day, I receive posts with photographs and other images of Gothic art and photography on my Facebook page--beautiful women dressed in black, lying by the grave marker of a deceased lover, a black-robed figure standing in the background as storm clouds gather. Our literature and movie classics tell tales not only of the dead, but the undead as well. Dark immortals such as lost souls and vampires roam across the dark landscapes of our minds. Even as I type these opening words, I'm listening to Draconian's slow and mournful dirge called Death Come Near Me, a delightful piece of Gothic/Doom metal superbly woven with a creative mix of death grunts and angelic female vocals.
Still, when death strikes close to us it becomes a serious matter; after all, Gothic folks may accept it as an inevitable part of the life cycle, but when it strikes a close friend or loved one we are deeply affected nevertheless. How a person reacts to it and how we all contend with our own eventual demise depends greatly upon our most deeply held beliefs. Even so, death truly represents the great unknown. It not only puts an end to physical existence but closes the door of opportunity for the living to make amends for wrongs committed. There is no longer the ability to tell a person how much he or she means to you or how you'd like to spend more time together. Death is final and most of us hurt deeply when someone special to us passes.
Last week a family member to whom I should have been closer than I actually was, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. It hasn't been easy for me and for the past several days my heart has been filled with sadness and remorse, my mind filled with questions of what I could have done differently--how I could have made things better between us. Yet, in this person's passing I am reminded that in the future I will have new tests of character and opportunities for overcoming the personal monsters that hampered an important relationship that I can no longer resurrect.
I have had a potent reminder of how final death actually is. With this reminder comes the imperative to do better and try harder for the special people that are still in my life.
Photo source: Gothic Pictures Gallery. Author unknown.