Essays About

Eras Die With the Elderly

At the funerals of the young, grief is raw and chaotic. Young people being the limbs and liveliness of the world, the death of the young amputates the world, and the mourners' grief is like the howling of an amputee. In contrast, the funerals of the old are more solemn than horrific. Why beat one's breast at the inevitable? On closer inspection, this solemnity for the old is a muted grieving for the young, that is, for the young of fifty years ago, on whose world the barely cracked door claps shut when the elderly die. Fifty years ago, the hunched and white-haired hobblers of the present were in their prime, making laws and making loans and making love, when today's movers and makers were still asleep in the lampless anteroom of the future. The sun shone on a world that, with the elderly's death, no one left living now remembers except through lifeless books and black-and-white photographs. As the coffin is lowered, not so much a person as an era is laid to rest.