An Analysis of Do not go gentle into that good night
The first time I read Dylan Thomas' words to his dying father, and I shouted I agreed completely with the feelings of Thomas. How right he was, I thought, to demand fighting to the very end. That's the way I would be when my time came, and that's the way everyone should be. I have had a few years to think it over. Today, burning and raging have less appeal and I find myself impatient with the "Give 'em Hell!" crowd.
Probably his bellicose stance helped Thomas the son. The psychotherapist in me thinks, "That's one way to avoid feeling the pain of loss --- focus on how the one you are losing ought to behave." And if we refuse to accept parental death, we can, like Woody Allen, nourish the secret, sly wish that although "everyone dies, I'm hoping that in my case they will make an exception."
But how did Thomas the father feel about it? We are not privy to that knowledge.
My own father died unexpectedly in his sleep when I was nine years old. Some part of me must have felt angry and betrayed, but at nine I could not articulate my grief, let alone rage. I can never know what it was like for him.
I have since experienced the death of my grandmother in her eighties, my mother in her seventies, friends, colleagues, and teachers in their middle age, and young clients cruelly claimed by AIDS and cancer. Most of the time I desperately wanted the person to live and not die, but I have become very careful to not add my own need to the burden of the dying one, offering only unqualified loving support.
I have come to believe that affirmation of life is not incongruent with acceptance of its inevitable end; that the in...
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...y and loss that inspires us. He transformed his tragic circumstances by going gently.
Is longevity all we aspire to? Do we admire a rose less because it will not live as long as an oak tree?
The Alcohol Anonymous prayer asks for courage to change what can be changed, serenity to accept what cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference. Acquiring that wisdom is surely one of our most worthy and important goals.
Reconciling our appreciation for hair dye, cosmetic surgery, fitness, hip replacements, contact lenses, etc, with honoring age -- and eventually death -- is essential for serenity.
We can, I believe, cherish life, work tirelessly to find cures and relieve suffering, and wear lipstick, while recognizing the truth and beauty of Buddha's words:
"Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well."
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