When writer Nora Ephron's mother was dying she told her daughter to do what she had always been trained to do, that it treat the current ordeal as copy. Yet, according to the chronicle of her death by her son Jacob Bernstein, that perspective only goes so far when one is in the process of one's own death.
Today in THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, Bernstein discusses how his mother did do quite a bit of writing in the years after she was diagnosed with the disease which would eventually get her. However, she seemed to have to, in the end, endure the same human struggle that non-artistic people have to when dying. She cried. She did not want to go. She distracted herself with crossword puzzles instead of turning out some brilliant prose.
Maybe it's time that we simply accept that life and death are hard. Sure, there are proven tools, such as art, to cope with part of them. But putting an upbeat spin on suffering, as Christopher Hitchens told us in his final days, is to denigrate the hugeness of life and death. We are bit players and the scripts we write for ourselves or some religion or scientific school of thought writes for us turn out to be, in the end, not very inspiring.
Might it be more respectful to the processes of life and death to just say, "I don't like the way of the world, I have no choice, and that's that." We might suffer less.