Author Archives: Danielle Antoinette Marhanka

Living longer- How long is too long?

Image of various pills  Following a paradigm shift from infectious to chronic disease, life expectancy rose for individuals, currently at 78.8 years of age (U.S based). The article linked below addresses how the drug rapamycin has been given to dogs in order to prolong life, in which questions as to how this drug might also prolong life for humans are mentioned. It’s interesting to consider that society already takes drugs in order to prolong life, ones that mitigate and help to control threatening symptoms or conditions. But what if there were a pill made specifically with the purpose to extend life beyond the average life expectancy? Perhaps one that slows the natural process of the body ‘shutting down’. For me, this is an acceptable but somewhat strange concept. Firstly, I think the concept can be problematic in terms of the incentive for creating or using such a drug. This is not to say that its use should be thought of as negative, especially considering how many individuals could continue to contribute to society beyond ages that would typically render them otherwise. However, I think this concept doesn’t necessarily stem from a desire to further innovation or even to improve society, I think it stems from a deep rooted fear of death and desire for control.

I also think that the concept of taking a drug to ‘extend’ life, falls into the general nature of western biomedical practices being aggressive, and purposed towards creating a more efficient and acceptable society. It seems within this discourse of integrating something into one’s life in order to enhance or improve the current status quo, questions arise that address why humans might be dissatisfied with a very natural and common phenomenon such as death. Again, I think this relates back to issues of control and fear of the unknown, in which taking a pill to extend the period of coming to terms with the end of life will be furthered. But at what point, if any, is extending life too much? I don’t think this is something that can be quantified in years, but is rather a consideration of  the extent that society is willing to go in order to avoid an inevitable process.

For reference:

Dia de los Muertos- Celebrating the dead

Individuals in Mexico, with painted faces as skulls and holding marigolds, walk together during this holiday to honor and celebrate their loved ones who have passed.

Dia de los Muertos- Day of the dead

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a tradition and holiday that originates in Mexico, but is celebrated across Latin America. On November 1st, individuals come together and partake in festivals and parades in order to both honor and celebrate loved ones that have passed. As seen in the picture above,  prominent symbols of this holiday are skulls and skeletal depictions, complemented by festive and lively dress, flowers, and light. Family and friends prepare the favorite foods of the deceased, which serves as an invitation for the dead to awake and join in the celebration of their lives. I have always found Dia de los Muertos to be a very respectable and insightful tradition, one that represents the perception of death more as an inevitable occurrence that should acknowledge the lives of the deceased in a positive, communal way. Its believed that the dead would be insulted by grief and mourning, and as such, the dead should rather be honored with a lively celebration that commemorates those that have passed.

When comparing Dia de los Muertos to Halloween, obviously very different in their origin and practice presently, death is represented in ways that starkly contrast the other. Halloween seems to follow the idea that death is scary and gruesome (imagine how skeletons and the dead are made to look), whereas during Dia de los Muertos, the dead are depicted more beautifully, often with colorful skulls and clothing. In my opinion, the latter depiction helps, especially with children, to better normalize the occurrence of death in a way that is not feared or avoided. In fact, during this holiday, death is seemingly transformed into a human experience that is natural and beautiful; a time where the dead can be remembered in a lively and festive manner, in which their lives are honored through food and activities that bring everyone together.

The holiday actually occurs over two days, on November 1st and 2nd, in which children and the elderly have respective days that they honored through different symbols and activities. Ultimately the holiday as a whole commemorates those that have passed, but continue to be loved and celebrated.


“Dia de los Muertos.” National Geographic Society. National Geographic , 09 Nov. 2012. Web.