How to Survive Death

by Anna Mukhanova (Ukraine) & Oleksandra Kulikovska (Ukraine)

A person’s death is the opposite of life and at the same time a part of it. If death were not part of life, the world of the living would not see and know it.

When truly close and loved ones die, the experience of life can become the experience of death. The grieving process can take a very long time or drive you into timelessness.

Sometimes the grief is so great that death begins to haunt the person trying to cope with the loss. In this state, death asks the bereaved questions but does not answer them. The most difficult task is to find the answers and come back to life.

The natural sciences investigate into which chemicals a corpse decomposes and how and when healthy organs can be used. Human culture offers many common answers, religious practices and philosophical musings on the subject. The modern mass media contain all this information and mix it into a colourful audio-visual salad.

All this is very convenient and reassuring – to watch, think and talk about from a distance. Those who are closer to you and more like you evoke more sympathy than those who are far away and quite different.

The world is calm and just. The good live, the bad deserve to die, or it is simply their time. Sometimes there are curious accidents. Anything else is indecent to talk about. Those who lose loved ones and talk about it are either looking for gain or weak.

My beloved in 2022 lost her 14-year-old sister to suicide. She died as a result of depression which was worsened by the war that started in our country. In 2023, our close friend died of cancer at the age of 37. Until his last days, he fought the disease and enjoyed every day of his life.

I want people to talk and listen more to those who are experiencing loss. Even if it only helps one person find answers to the questions death raises, it’s worth it.

In loving memory of Anna Kulikovska and Levi Keller