Written by Ben Gordon on January 20th, 2023
Yesterday was my last day on staff at the cemetery I’ve worked at the last couple years. I buried a lot of people and hung out in the woods and took photos and here’s some stuff I’ve thought about:
- Death is the truest thing about us, and how we relate to it is foundational to how we relate to truth. That is the case on cultural and personal levels alike.
- Death is equally, deeply true for all of us. It is our most fertile common ground.
- It’s not just true about the future, it is true now. My death is not real but far away, it is here. I am mortal in this moment. Death is as true about me right now as it will be when I take my last breath. When I’m able to rest in this perspective, I feel like everyone is so vulnerable and badass and I love them.
- The void is soft.
- Reverence and irreverence are equally virtuous and necessary.
- In what I’ve witnessed at burials, there seems to be a qualitative difference in the grief of families who are acting according to the requests of their deceased loved ones, and families whose deceased loved ones didn’t/weren’t able to make their wishes clear. The organizing and execution of a burial, or any disposition ceremony, is the last caring act you can do for each other (you and your beloved dead, or you and those who are grieving your death), and collaborating on it can have a significant impact on the survivors’ grieving process, as well as the deceased’s process of taking their seat as an ancestor. It’s a good idea to contemplate and compose your wishes in an advanced directive/living will, and to encourage your loved ones to do the same. This is not necessarily easy to do, and there is guidance out there for it. Check out @motherwortandrose on instagram and keep an eye out for any workshops they might put on in the future as one option for help with getting started with this.
- I’ve spent a lot of my life wondering/worrying whether I was a Loser. Becoming more acquainted with death has helped me realize for sure that I am, and to claim that identity as sacred. We can define a Loser as a practitioner of loss, and since the last thing any of us ever do is lose everything, I believe it behooves us to cherish every opportunity we get to practice losing. That means all of our heartbreak and grief, as well as every shortcoming, every missed accomplishment, every time we don’t get what we want, every time getting what we want doesn’t go how we wanted, every failure to assert ourselves as right or triumphant or more-significant-than. Being primarily oriented to triumph and success can make you a douchebag, but it will also betray you, because not one of us comes out on top. If we instead orient to losing, and learn to grieve every large and small loss we experience, we can let each of those moments soften us into connection with the boundless fields of vitality and death below and around us, and I think that’s a good way to move in the world.
- If you’ve read all this, you may be a Loser too. Thanks for being here. Let’s keep taking these Ls, all the way to our graves.
Our dearest Ben Gordon is now pouring his heart and energy into bodywork and is accepting clients starting in March 2023. Ben can be reached on instagram at @bgbodywork or via email at email@example.com.