"A Very Easy Death"

I am copying an excerpt from the book “A Very Easy Death” by Simone De Beauvoir. This is a book about the death of her mother. I found this very profound, as my grandmother just died in March. She was 94, and had severe dementia for several years, but I still was very moved and upset by her death. I think that this book excerpt captures my feelings about it :

“‘He is certainly of an age to die.’ The sadness of the old; their banishment; most of them do not think that this age has yet come for them. I too made use of this cliche, and that when I was referring to my mother. I did not understand that one might sincerely weep for a relative, a grandfather aged seventy and more. If I met a woman of fifty overcome with sadness because she had just lost her mother, I thought her neurotic: we are all mortal; at eighty you are quite old enough to be one of the dead…

But it is not true. You do not die from being born, nor from having lived, nor from old age. You die from SOMETHING. The knowledge that because of her age my mother’s life must soon come to an end did not lessen the horrible surprise: she had sarcoma. Cancer, thrombosis, pneumonia: it is as violent and unforeseen as an engine stopping in the middle of the sky. My mother encouraged one to be optimistic when, crippled with arthritis and dying, she asserted the infinite value of each instant; but her vain tenaciousness also ripped and tore the reassuring curtain of everyday triviality. There is no such thing as a natural death: nothing that happens to a man is ever natural, since his presence calls the world into question. All men must die: but for every man his death is an accident and, even if he knows it and consents to it, an unjustifiable violation.”

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