Today I wrote a funeral scene for my first novel. Instead of depressing me, however, it ultimately made me hopeful and energized, which surprised me at first. Who gets energized when envisioning a funeral? But then, with a bit of reflection, something critical occurred to me.

The Infinitude of Death

You see, this past weekend marked the anniversary of my mother’s death. But today I realized that over the years, since her death, I’ve started (unconsciously, perhaps?) mingling the rejuvenation and renewal that comes with springtime– with the infinitude of death. That’s right, the infinitude of death. Almost every spring since she has died, I think about starting something new, and often do. This spring I decided to write my first novel, for instance.

If you have ever lost a loved one, you know that while his or her body was finite on the earth, his or her enduring presence on the earth never is. And you don’t need to be especially spiritual to understand this either.

It is impossible to escape the legacy, shadow, advice, admonishments, influence, biology, customs, mannerisms, and other behavioral proclivities, etc… of those close to us who have walked the earth. Even after they’re gone. Because after his or her death, his or her actions and words and lineage live on in us and with us, whether we like them or not or are aware of them or not. And in this sense, the death of a loved one is not truly finite, and never will be. Death always signals a continual renewal for the living, even if they’re not ready for it or aware of it.

One’s death is ultimately a renewal of his or her actions and words, and their overall effect, in and for those they leave behind to continue to walk the earth, to do with what they will.

Renewal and Springtime in Death in My Writing Today

As I wrote this funeral scene in my novel today, I considered the ultimate renewal death brings to life for those still living, even if begrudgingly, and compared it to the renewal that springtime typically brings to the earth. In the springtime, the earth comes back to life after the winter. But not all winters are the same, and some spring rains can be torrential.

With this reflection, I’m hoping a prominent character’s death in my story can bring life to those characters still around after she dies. Through her death, I think I’ll begin to see other characters in the story more vividly. We’ll see if this approach holds up in the coming weeks and months, as I write. Currently, I have high hopes.

I promised not to make my novel depressing. And I’m honoring that promise. It is essential to first view death as infinite, however, as a form of renewal. With this comes peace and hope, and perhaps a bit of clarity.

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