Death's door: modern dying and the ways we grieve by Sandra M. Gilbert

By Sandra M. Gilbert

The main accomplished multidisciplinary contemplation of mortality we're prone to get. -Thomas Lynch, ny instances e-book ReviewProminent critic, poet, and memoirist Sandra M. Gilbert explores our courting to dying although literature, heritage, poetry, and societal practices. Does loss of life change;and if it does, how has it replaced within the final century? and the way have our stories and expressions of grief replaced? Did the traumas of Hiroshima and the Holocaust rework our puzzling over mortality? extra lately, did the disaster of September 11 regulate our modes of mourning? And are there whilst elements of grief that hardly switch from age to age? Seneca wrote, "Anyone can cease a man's existence yet not anyone his dying; one thousand doorways open directly to it." This inevitability has left various marks on all human cultures. Exploring expressions of religion, burial customs, photos, poems, and memoirs, acclaimed writer Sandra M. Gilbert brings to the subject of demise the serious ability that gained her status for The Madwoman within the Attic and different books, as she examines either the changelessness of grief and the altering customs that mark modern mourning. 25 illustrations

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I knew there was but one way,' " says the hostess, describ­ ing the death of Falstaff. 1 "I knew it would happen, but I didn't think it would be so soon," my mother lamented again. ''I'm a widow. So soon! So soon! " What did I d o when she and I finally got o ff the phone? Snuggled down next to Elliot probably, burrowed into the warmth of our bed like an ani­ mal going to cover. By now we'd turned on the lights. Outside, the blackest part of the night hung beyond the windows, the after-midnight blackness when there were no cars on the long avenue outside our big, shabby old house.

But both sisters refuse, and only the family servant, Anna, stays with the dead woman, cradling Agnes at her bared breast-in a posture of pieta-all through the long first night of death's endlessness. "36 At the close of Rossetti's poem, the not-so-blessed damozel yearns down from the suddenly vertiginous steeps of heaven, strains against "the golden barriers," and weeps. "I heard her tears:' confides her lover. " Though even the sad words of elegies, burn­ ing like candles on the graves of All Souls, must falter and fail to cross the borders of mortality, countless living mourners cluster at death's door, hop­ ing to console the mournful dead.

31 Perhaps we require the ambiguous consolations of fantasy because those who seem so near, whose country has become so incontrovertibly real to the mourner, are yet so far: they're inhabitants of a distant land that is nevertheless absolutely ours. And perhaps the impulse to elegy itself arises from our sense of the simultaneous nearness and farness of their place, arises because we sometimes feel the dead are so near that we must speak to as well as about or for them-because, that is, we wish to converse with them as if we were in their presence while lamenting what, at least intellec­ tually, we understand to be their absence.

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