|By Polly Mackenzie
“I despise the set of warlike metaphors that so many apply to cancer. [It] says that only those who fight hard against their cancer survive it, or deserve to survive it — the corollary being that those who lose the fight deserved to do so.”
I was reminded of the late John Diamond’s words when Dominic Raab described the Prime Minister as a fighter. I know Raab was simply trying to gee up a beleaguered nation worried. So we can forgive him for the callous implications of his remarks: that all those who have lost their lives didn’t fight hard enough. But the implication is there. It’s a common fantasy to which many of us succumb, in our desperate wish to have the power to stave off death.
Death cannot be fought, though. We are all dying. The only real question is how fast it is happening. All we can hope for is the deferment of our sentence, and that its approach will be benign when it comes.
If you ask them, most people will tell you that they would like to die suddenly, at home, in their sleep. So frightened are we of death that, if we could, we would ask it to creep in unannounced. It’s not the being dead that frightens us, but the act of losing life. Or as Francoise de Beauvoir says in her daughter Simone’s memoir, A Very Easy Death: “Death itself does not frighten me; it is the jump I am afraid of.”
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