Billy Connolly hosts a TV programme on death.
It is a clever deceit in making entertainment out of the way people react to and cope with death. It is mainly focused on the US: some of the examples are comical and ridiculous. Ever heard of a plot broker? Yes – you too can buy a burial plot like ‘real estate’! Hit the good times? Why don’t you dig up your relatives and upgrade them to a more fashionable location?
Some of the scenes are genuinely moving. Young men celebrated in death the victims of AIDs in the 1980s. Touching photographs of them sitting with partners and family. The whole theme of the programme is that death is a part of life. We should get used to it. The more familiar we are with death the better we will cope with it.
It is what is said as an aside that contradicts the main theme of the acceptance of death. Connolly talks about being overwhelmed by the funeral of a man he had never met. “It kind of weird these feelings that come over you”. He then explains that you need work to stop thinking about stuff. When you have time off you have time to think; to contemplate. “You can’t do that to yourself. You have to go to work” says Connolly.
This brings in the quote by Colin Murray Parkes “In order to avoid thinking about something we have to think about it.” Is Connolly trying to contradict this?
This is the age old dilemma of how humans deal with pain. The automatic response is to shy away from the pain. To avoid. To distract ourselves from the pain. Unfortunately this never works. To avoid is to risk being taken over by feelings triggered by others pain who we might not even know as Connolly experienced.
To be familiar with death takes time, effort and energy! It takes time with yourself and your thoughts to work through the pain of death.
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Disclaimer: This weblog is the view of the writer and for general information only.
This article is designed to provoke argument and critique. Copyright Adrian Scott North London Counsellor Blog 2014