Suicide is the leading cause of death for people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s in South Korea. So some entrepreneurial or altruistic persons — the article says there are conflicting ideas as to which they really are — have come up with a seminar being offered to the public about what they call "well-dying."
One of the instructors says the experience has proved to be meaningful to people across a wide spectrum of age. His claim: It makes people appreciate life more to think about their mortality. The course motto: "Don't take life for granted."
Does it sound just too morbid to you? Not to me. I think our technological and sanitized approach to sickness, human infirmity, and death is a way we have created to distance ourselves from reality. So we don't let children see the dead goldfish or go to their grandmother's funeral. Teenagers think they are invincible to speed — whether as highway recklessness or an illegal drug. And adults are so self-absorbed that we forget that our actions can hurt others.
We used to live in rural settings and see plants and animals die. There once was a time that people died in their own homes. Folks sat up with families and the corpse until time for the funeral. And funerals both talked about death realistically and urged the living to take stock in light of their own mortality.
In the South Korean version, people don a traditional hemp robe and lie down inside of a casket. Somber attendants in dark suits place a lid on the coffin. One lady who has terminal disease for which she had stopped treatment went through the experience recently. As she rose from the casket, she said, "I will discard my greed in order to relate to my husband and love my daughters more." Say you may know some people who might benefit from the experience? What about you? Me? Some couples I know? Some kids and their parents?
Socrates used to quote the words inscribed on a temple at Delphi: "Know yourself." He added: "The unexamined life is not worth living." The biblical prophet Jeremiah speaks for Yahweh: "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV).
"How grateful I was that this was a fake funeral," said one participant in the seminar. With a sigh of relief, he hinted he would look at some things differently.
Trust me. You don't have to try death on for size. It fits us all. And it only makes life the more precious to know that — and to think about it deeply.
"Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies — so the living should take this to heart" (Ecclesiastes 7:2 NLT).