Posted by Michael Finkelstein | October 29th, 2012
In the past few years, we’ve seen a significant rise in the portrayal of the “undead” and have had a front row seat for a flood of films on the subject. Indeed, vampires, zombies and the walking dead have filled the screens and airwaves in unprecedented numbers. And I can’t help but wonder, is it the blockbuster films, the popular TV shows and the influx of media conversation on the subject that contributes to the growth of this trend, or is it our innate obsession with the living dead that prompts pop culture to give us what we (no pun intended) thirst for?
It’s a relevant question to ask now, what with the current political climate of our country, as there have been studies that link election time to a spike in interest with the undead. Media Studies professor, Murali Balaji of Temple University, said that during election time, “we are increasingly isolated from one another. People become consumed in their own tribes and more and more disconnected.” Her suggestion is that anxiety about the future is on the rise and that brings us to perseverate about the ultimate unknown, death itself.
Fittingly, the full moon this month in the English Medieval culture is the Blood Moon, which brings us to this direct connection to Halloween, zombies and the afterlife. Perhaps if our culture was not so squeamish when it comes to addressing death–the signs of it, the fears surrounding it, and the elusive acceptance of it–we wouldn’t be so morbidly drawn, indeed consumed, by it. This has not always been the case. But in the advent of hospitals where the dying are brought during their final days, we have elected to sterilize the process. While understandable, even compassionate for much of the heroic “saving” that takes place there, there is an unwanted side-effect—we’ve grown unfamiliar with death and thus prone to unnecessary and unhealthy fear. And, for many, this fear of death interferes with their lives. Indeed, as they take on the attributes of the walking dead themselves, held in the limbo of a zombie existence, they wander through life half living. As with all aspects of life, we have a tendency to follow in the lead of those before us, it’s just at this time, once again that we need to wake up and realize that our lives would be fuller if we fully acknowledged what this was all about and peered with eyes wide open through the veil.
As we approach All Hallows’ Eve later this week, let’s take the opportunity to get these issues out into the open by simply discussing death and the dying process with each other and our children. The goal is to shift our perspective, and view death, instead of something that should be evaded and feared, as part of the circle of life that should be addressed as freely as the occurrence of a birth. Explore this challenge. It will help you to embrace the possibilities of the unknown instead of fearing them.