Dinner Parties Encourage Talk About Death

Last month, I got a jarring reminder of our mortality. In the span of a few weeks, four former colleagues, all in their early-to-mid 60′s, died. Two succumbed to cancer — three months and eights months respectively after they were diagnosed. The other two died suddenly, one from a pulmonary embolism and one from a rare condition known as amyloidosis that causes proteins to build up in your organs. It was such a steady stream of sadness that I became reluctant to open my Facebook feed, fearing more contemporaries would be taken before their time.

The cascade of loss reminded me of that old headline from the satirical website The Onion: “World Death Rate Holding Steady at 100%.” Ben Franklin got it right when he wrote that “nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.”

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April 23rd, 2016