Thought For The Day #3824 November 2014
Broadcast 24th of November 2014 on BBC Radio Bristol
It’s been a rather morbid weekend in Bristol, with two separate cases of finding bodies. One was found on the Downs and the other in the canal by Netham Park. Death is of course not unusual. There are nearly half a million people in Bristol, so going by the average UK death rate, 10 people die every day in the city.
What is shocking is how this weekend’s deaths aren’t hidden from sight. They’re startling reminders that there’s no guarantee we’ll not stumble upon death ourselves one day. I’ve been in the presence of a dead body and it wasn’t easy. Fortunately it was out of choice so I had time to prepare. But as we’ve seen from this weekend we might not always be warned about an encounter with human mortality.
What scares me most about death is the sadness of losing the things I love. From the small things like orange juice to the big things like friends. However what I find happens when I am reminded of my own impending demise is that I cherish the ordinary things in my life more. For example I become grateful for the simple fact of my health or that I can feel rain on my skin even though the weather is horrible. In a strange way death brings me back to life.
Because of this I actually disapprove of any ideas of an afterlife, whether that’s Buddhist rebirth or Christian heaven. If death isn’t completely and utterly final then it loses its power to give this life urgency. I don’t think life after death is a miracle, it’s being alive before death which is the miracle.