last week my blog post dealt with sex, and this week I'd like to follow up by writing about death. Maybe next week we'll talk about money; I haven't decided yet. As someone who's officiated at over 100 funerals, and who has regularly dealt with dying, death, and grief, I sometimes forget that most people don't encounter the dead as often as I do. I know people's lack of exposure also means the subject can be seen as weird, spooky, uncomfortable, sad, and even terrifying for many. Some even avoid it at all costs. So let's talk about it.
I first realized the disparity when I was listening to that same podcast, "Death, Sex, and Money." At various times, I heard interviews with funeral directors and morticians, and everything they said sounded quite familiar to me, yet it seemed to surprise and amaze many of their listeners.
The very first verse of our Torah portion, Emor, tell us that a priest in the ancient Temple could not "defile himself for any [dead] person among his kin" (Lev. 21:1), meaning that he could not handle a dead body for funeral preparations.
But WE can't actually escape it. These days, we try to employ euphemisms like "passed away" or "is no longer with us," to somehow avoid words like "corpse" and "dead." Death can be incredibly traumatic, and often causes terrible disruptions to our everyday lives, by inflicting chaos and upheaval upon us.
Photos in this blog post: