Death is through to be something “unnatural”, or so we are taught by by our Christian Doctrine. Through man’s disobedience sin and death entered the world. In Genesis 3 the assumption is that Adam and Eve are immortal (though no such claim is made), and that beyond Eden there is death, seen as the punishment for eating the fruit (Gen 2:15), (NOTE: Death is NOT one of the punishments that God does visit upon them).
Most mythos spend a lot of time explaining the origin of death, and it is often seen as steming from some evil. Paradoxically, death is never the end. For Christians it is the end of this life, but with a sure and certain hope of the next one. Death, then, is simply a painful transition. Perhaps made more painful by the penalties of the accrued sin, but mere death holds no fear.
The problem of labelling death as some dark and evil ogre is that without too much effort one could see where it might be a relase, a natural end. There is more than one cleric who has privately prayed for God to act quickly and be merciful.
Death is painful, sure. Sometimes tragic and brutal, and no-one experiences death, either their own or someone else’s, and isn’t changed by it. It is for this reason that Death in the Tarot deck means change. Every change in life means the death of something. A way of life, a friendship, a habit. Some might feel the moniker “Death” is inappropriate for as people we do not like dealing with grief, prefering to focus on our silver lining, the resurrection, sometimes missing that cold irony that labelled the friday of Jesus’ death as “Good”.
It is often hard to articulate the sense of loss at change, especially when it’s for the better. A moving forward worked for, searched for, even prayed for. It is difficult to speak up without sounding ungrateful, or having your words misunderstood as a fear for the future (though grief, by nature, has some of this).
By recognising the change as a form of death it equips us better to deal with it. There will be times for looking forward, where we know the bright sunlight hills guarded by the good shepherd are, but for now let us walk, in the full knowledge, through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for the Lord is with me; which is good, because I might need a shoulder to cry on.
NOTE: This reflection was undated and found while sorting through papers on a desk. Here it is in it’s fullness as it was written.