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I’m Not Grieving
“Death Does Not Concern Me”
Dear Classical Wisdom Reader,
You know, it didn’t occur to me that it was taboo. Talking about death seems like the most natural thing in the world. Perhaps it’s because I spent so much of my life afraid of it... that is until I almost died.
Ten days in intensive care, 14 blood transfusions, hours left until each and every organ was going to fail. My father flew in to say goodbye.
But I’ll be honest with you... it wasn’t scary. I didn’t even have time to think about it... but I did have a ‘vision’ of sorts. I’m not sure if I ‘saw’ it or if it was just an idea. I mean, I didn’t have my contacts or glasses, so I couldn’t actually see anything!
Nevertheless the notion of the ‘Tree of Life’ came to me... the infinite Celtic loop of the roots connecting the branches.
Perhaps that’s because I was ‘leaving’ as another (my daughter) was ‘entering’.
Since then, the fear of death’s grip has been loosened. After all, every day is another chance that in a different universe, I didn’t get to enjoy with my daughter and my husband.
I do still worry, however, about the death of others.
What will I do when grief and loss hits? How will I handle it?
Of course I’m only here thanks to modern medicine and the 20 people who donated blood (if you can, please donate blood!) Cicero’s daughter, Tullia, was not so lucky. And when she died in 45 BC due to complications of childbirth, Cicero, the great Roman orator, fell to pieces.
Fortunately he had contemplated grief when he was younger... he had read great works discussing it (not Seneca though ;-))... and so he was able to write himself out of grief.
The essential lesson, however, is, if possible, you need to think about it BEFORE it happens.
So, even if you are not grieving... and perhaps especially so... then this is the exact moment to contemplate loss.
Epicurus may have said that ‘Death does not concern us’... because when we are dead, we will not be here to worry about it. However, the death of others DOES concern us.
From Cicero and ancient Stoicism to modern practices, what can philosophy do to help us understand loss?
Join us on October 27th for a LIVE panel discussion with Cornell Professor and most recent translator of Cicero’s lost Consolation, Michael Fontaine, as well as cognitive behavior therapist and Modern Stoic founder, Donald Robertson and famed philosopher and Neo-Stoic, Massimo Pigliucci.
Even if you can’t make it live, if you register in advance you will get the recordings.
You will also be entered to win a copy of Michael’s newest book: “How to Grieve: An Ancient Guide to the Lost Art of Consolation”, a fascinating and very approachable translation of this ancient masterpiece. In fact, Princeton University Press has generously offered to giveaway three copies, so make sure to register here:
I hope you can join us.
All the best,
P.S. If you know anyone who would benefit from this conversation, please feel free to share this invitation. In the end, death does concern us all... and we can only truly start living and enjoying our lives, once we may our peace with death.