Taylor Werkema- We need a heroic narrative for death

In this inspirational Ted Talk, Amanda Bennett, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, explains her journey with the death of her husband and what she learned through it.  Ms. Bennett explains first her life with her husband and then his death.  Her husband and her lived a life full of travel and adventure traveling all over the world as they both worked and wrote abroad.  She then speaks about how he became ill with cancer.  Much like how they lived their lives, both confronted death with an attitude of conquering this new adventure.  Unfortunately, this attitude of unrelenting hope and conquering led to the denial of the actual act of dying.  Finally, after three rounds of remission, when her husband died Ms. Bannett was not prepared for it and this quick death in a hospital bed did not seem to match the heroic narrative of their lives.

Ms. Bennett then calls for a more heroic narrative for death—a death that allows a person’s life to be manifested in his or her death.  Although having a death that is reflective of one’s life is not a new concept, referring to the concept of a “good death” as seen throughout history, it seems we have lost that in modern Western culture.  This video is a moving and powerful story of how the living need a narrative for death to match the narrative of their loved ones’ lives.  If you have 20 minutes free this would be a great watch.



One response to “Taylor Werkema- We need a heroic narrative for death

  1. There is a Greek word that I have been searching for all semester, but have yet to find. It means a story created about someone’s death that is particularly appropriate for that persons (Diogenes, the founder of the philosophy of Cynicism–which is named after a Greek word meaning “dog-like”–was, for example said to die from a dog bite). These stories are almost certainly untrue, but show a preference for narrative continuity over the pesky details of what actually happened. (The recent passing of Paul Walker may be the exception that proves the rule.) Certainly there are elements of this in “official remembering” that happens in the context of funerals and maybe is a more general feature of mourning–people’s lives are remembered as congruent with social and religious ideals. Their deaths are the final caps to these thoroughly normative lives. Deaths are narrated to “fit” the larger story–to complete it.

    If anyone knows the word I’ve been trying to think of, let me know.

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