I had the fortunate opportunity to read Death: An Exploration: Learning To Embrace Life’s Most Feared Mystery by Loren Mayshark. I am not sure I would have read this book if it was my choice. However, Loren gifted this book to me, and after reading it, I am glad I did. As I read the book, I was struck by the fact that this was a personal exploration for Mayshark. It originated with the death of two family members before he became an adult. I have my own ideas about death and it was fascinating to see viewpoint of another.
Death is a short book of 85 pages and perhaps its only critique—I wished it was longer. Through nine chapters, Mayshark explored the concept of death. He looked at it from a varied of perspectives through some wonderful storytelling. I really appreciated the level of research he contributed to his stories. I was mesmerized by a number of the stories.
In the first chapter, Mayshark talked about how death had personally impacted him and was a part of his life. When I meet with Loren again, I will have to ask him about Willa May.
As Loren noted, death is inevitable. Many of us are not accepting of death especially when we are young, but begin to think about it as we get older. I have to admit, death has frequent my thoughts more in the last years than in all the years prior. In most cases, it is about getting my legal affairs in order.
I am not able to identify one chapter better than the other, I found each one fascinating. I liked how death in one instance was held in reflection of another. One case was the salmon researcher, Eva Saulitis, who was faced with her own mortality. She studied salmon as they made the death-defying journey to the breeding grounds. However, as she was in the hospital with breast cancer she said,
“I learned to fear something more than death: existence dependent upon technology, machines, sterile procedures, hoses, pumps, chemicals easing one kind of pain only to feed a psychic other” (Mayshark, 2016, p. 17).
Mayshark wrote about people who put death in check so they could life a richer life in nature. He discussed the use of Ayahuasca to explore death. I learned about some researchers who were working to suspend death in its entirety and others who thought we kept death at bay too long. Mayshark also looked at death in terms of religion and lack of religion. Finally, is death only a milestone on a longer journey? Do we get to live many times?
As I noted, this would not normally be a book I would pick up and read; however, I have lately been reading a number of books I would not normally read. I am grateful to Loren for gifting this book to me. I really enjoyed reading Death: An Exploration: Learning To Embrace Life’s Most Feared Mystery. It gave me a lot to think about. My only wish is that it was longer so that I could read more.