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Often aligned with evil, death appears as the grim reaper, the nefarious gambler, in scary movies, and in ghost stories, yet death is an intimate part of life. For many, death marks the end of existence and is therefore often treated as a kind of ultimate foe or failure. Disease commonly invokes a “battle,” where triumph is the end of illness and a prolonged life, and death is “defeat.” That an individual might heroically endure cancer treatment, and potentially face a myriad of challenges and transformations that come with a terminal diagnosis, only to “succumb” to the disease, highlights the deprivation in our language and attitude towards death. The battle and defeat dialectic lacks nuance and seemingly turns all involved (which is everyone) away from the main event – the great and inevitable cycle of birth and death.
Stephanie Corigliano, TARKA Journal Managing Editor