and who looks a little like an aristo Russian duellist in St Petersburg c. 1869, asks me a shrewd question: has being a celebrant changed my views on mortality?
2. I've learned a lot about grief - the different ways people grieve, and face their bereavement. This has helped me not just to understand intellectually that grief is natural, inevitable and that it will pass - or at least, subside and change - but to feel the truth of that. I think that's an important part of accepting one's own mortality: not to be afraid of grief.
3. I won't say that "At my back I always hear/Time's winged chariot hurrying near," because that could be interpreted as a a panicky sort of feeling. It's rather that I more fully appreciate Horace's "carpe diem." He wasn't advocating a sort of headlong desperate hedonism. "Life is short so let's get pissed/stoned/laid as much and as quickly as possble" seems to me pretty much a route to disaster. He was actually recommending that we prune our vines. Cut back on the stuff that doesn't matter. Distinguish between fantasy futures and activities, and what can be made much of from where we already are.
And all that comes from encountering human mortality so often that I think more often about my own. It's made me feel the truth of a simple point such as: life and death are the same thing, they are part of each other. And within that, life can be full of delights and astonishments.
So maybe on the one hand: it has sharpened my feelings about life, made me more quickly moved by other's sufferings and griefs, but also more aware of immediate pleasures to be found now. And on the other hand: made me more accepting of the inevitability and rightness of our mortality.
It's not callous to say that the death of an 89-year-old is not a disaster and shouldn't be a huge shock (Leaving aide for now the manner of his death) It is simply accepting something as inevitable, and trying to understand its true significance.
It is like the wake
Vanishing behind a boat
That has sailed away at dawn.