Death is a unique process in human experience in that it can only be directly experienced by the participant, and it cannot be recorded. In almost everything else in life, people are ready and willing to offer advice… but, in this one area, they can’t.
Bryan Wright, like many of us, is fascinated by this unknown, yet ubiquitous, experience. He is a student of Thanatology – the study of death, dying, and related processes – and he’s on the show today to discuss the postmodern phenomenon of denying death and the transformative power of the grieving process.
Throughout much of history, death was considered an important part of the continuum of life and a community experience. Everyone and everything died, and the whole tribe was part of it. Western society has largely lost touch with that continuum.
In Western society, we don’t often participate in the natural grief process. We often use the word recovery to describe that experience, but the field of Thanatology is moving away from the language of recovery because it can be oppressive to the bereaved and mourning.
Instead, Thanatologists favor words like adaptation to describe and acknowledge what the grieving process really is: a reality-altering experience that forever changes who and what we are.
“We have so few opportunities to really experience the true depth, intensity, and texture of human life. Death is an opportunity to experience those things, and a calling to explore that same level of curiosity in all of life.”
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