December 8, 2018 – The Spectator –

‘Without death,’ says Salena Godden, ‘life would be a never-ending conveyor belt of sensation.’ For her death is what gives meaning to life and to be able to imagine your own death should make you try harder to be a better person. Mrs Death Misses Death on Radio 4 (produced by Cecile Wright) is not a programme for the faint-hearted. Godden, a poet, novelist and musician, faces with robust clarity what many of us would prefer to distract ourselves from thinking about. She argues that Death is much more likely to be a woman; not the usual caricature of a hooded male figure carrying a sickle. She’s that invisible woman who can be found anywhere and everywhere: the careworn mother sitting beside us on the bus, or the cleaner in the hospital corridor we walk past and don’t notice. She lives among us in different guises; that’s the point. Death really is part of life. When we use different words to anaesthetise its meaning, set it apart from us, then it becomes terrifying. But, says a doctor interviewed by Godden who has sat with many people on the brink of death, ‘it’s not actually that difficult to be dead; it’s much more difficult to be alive’.

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Listening Seekers, what are your thoughts?

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