Are the dead busy or not? Musings on epitaphs 1.

Looking up lists of epitaphs on the net I was not surprised to discover that the majority are framed in terms of denying the finality of death e.g:

• ‘Death is the golden key that opens the palace of Eternity.’ (Milton)
• ‘He hath awakened from the dream of life.’ (Shelley).

Much reference is also made to the dead ‘resting’ or ‘sleeping’

• ‘Rest on thy sheaves. Thy harvest work is done’.
• ‘Weep not she is not dead but sleepeth.’

There are also repeated references to the dead meeting up with the relatives that have outlived them:

• ‘One by one our hopes grow brighter as we near the shining shore,
for we know across the river wait the loved ones gone before.’

Without wishing to deprive the grieving of the solace of these conjectures I couldn’t help wondering how it all reconciles. When will the dead have time to sleep or rest (often expressed as an eternal affair) if they have to start by catching up with those that have preceded them followed by those that follow?

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2 thoughts on “Are the dead busy or not? Musings on epitaphs 1.

  1. Hi Wyon, thank you for the idea of cutting and pasting which seems to work well. Now I am going to be naughty and challenge you to write something tomorrow which DOESN”T mention death! I never realized that you had such a preoccupation and am glad that it doesn’t seem to interfere with your personal relationships. The epitaphs all play into my theory that man is obsessed with death. Each religion attempts to explain and to tease its followers into believing that death is a portal to something else, to believe, what they want to believe, that our lives are NOT temporal. I think that your death-tinted glasses hint that if it is final we should make sure to squeeze as much delight (not pleasure) out of our short existence. Their (the glasses’) very existence implies that you lack confidence in the generally accepted explanations of life, with a better, timeless, suffering-free, busy or not, existence, after death.
    Love, Jane.

  2. Certainly I lack confidence in the conventional explanations as to what happens after death Jane – I’m agnostic. I like also to believe that my preoccupations with death have helped my personal relationships but only others can confirm that one way or the other. I’m also going to politely decline your challenge. Tomorrow’s blog is epitaph musings part 2.

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