What Death Means to Us
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What Death Means to Us
  • Kim Ma Seunghee
  • 승인 2019.10.02 22:57
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Have you ever felt death nearby your daily life? More often than not, we forget the existence of death and live as though we will live forever. However, all creatures including humans are not immortal. The fact is that we each could die at any time, whether it be in a car accident or something else. Indeed, it is quite horrid and terrifying to think about, but at the same time, it makes us ponder the importance of life. We must carefully deliberate about how we spend our precious time here on Earth without regret. If you knew tomorrow you would die, what would you do today?      

 

 

When Breath Becomes Air (2016)

“If the weight of mortality does not grow light, does it at least get more familiar?”
- Paul Kalanithi 

 

When Breath Becomes Air 

At the age of thirty-six Paul Kalanithi, a young man full of passion and with a moral duty to fulfill his duties as a doctor, became a death-faced patient. He is a vulnerable object at the same hospital, where he was once the subject of surgery. Growing up in a family of doctors, Paul is a man of versatile talents. He studied English literature to comprehend things he felt made life meaningful, and he also studied neuroscience to understand how humans find meaning in the world. He decided to follow his passion toward neuroscience further. During his residency sojourn, he witnessed love, pain, life, and death. With the death of his friend, he comes to the conclusion “that the questions intersecting life, death, and meaning, questions that all people face at some point, usually arise in a medical context”. During his final year of neurosurgical residency, he discovers that he has stage IV lung cancer. How does he choose to live and how does he choose to die? In the midst of pain and sorrow, he must “figure out what’s the most important” to him. He decides to continue his residency, and if possible, to have a child after an in-depth talk with his wife. He also decides to write a book about his experience. Find out how his breath becomes air not only with pain and struggle, but also with meaning and love. 

  

Recommendation 

Death and life are two sides to a coin. Even though death is just the flip side of life, we all find it hard to discuss and confront it. Paul, describes his ordeal and writes down all his vulnerabilities and fears of dying in an autobiographical book. He bravely faces death and questions his humanity and how to live righteously. The book asks readers to ponder: how they live, how they die, what they would do with only a specific length left to live? After reading the book, readers can better understand what is important in life. In addition, it is interesting to see how Paul feels closer to his calling of being a doctor, which he describes as a moral duty. Readers will also sense Paul’s passion towards his patients. Paul, sadly, was unable to complete the book. He passed away before the book was published - I hope I haven’t spoiled it for you. Paul’s wife Lucy, a resident working alongside Paul, describes the process of his death during his struggle with the hardest part of the disease in the epilogue as a wife and a witness. Through her passage, readers understand more of his life. Though Paul has left the world, his death was not the end of his life. He remains with all who read this book, in the memories of his wife Lucy, his daughter Cady, his friends, colleague, and patients. 

 

 

Last Holiday (2006)

“I didn’t come here to make an impression on anybody, I just came here to blow every last cent I had.”
- Georgia Byrd 

 

 

Last Holiday 

Georgia Byrd, a sales clerk at a department store, lives a tedious repetitive lifestyle. She works hard and deals with people who make her tired. Georgia doesn’t realize how tiresome her life is because she only has thoughts of reaching her goal of a “stable” life. One day she is told she has a serious brain disease and that she has only about month to live. After her diagnosis, Georgia decided to do everything she hadn’t done but only dreamed of doing in her life, instead of just frustrating over her near death. She immediately reserves a flight to somewhere overseas, a place she had hoped to visit but hadn’t due to the financial cost. Arriving there, Georgia meets various people including Chef Didier, whom she admires. After talking with Georgia, the two become attracted to each other. Didier loves her confidence and magnanimity. Georgia becomes more confident and positive than after learning about her disease and decides to live the remaining of her days happy. In a twist, the doctor sends her a letter saying her diagnosis was wrong and that she was not dying. What will happen to Georgia now that she knows she is not dying?   

 

Recommendation 

There are a lot of people who are told they will not live long. Most of them had never thought about death before being told that. Some give up hope and lose the will to life, thereby losing any chance to enjoy their last days properly. However, Georgia, the main character of the movie, was different. Although she was told she had only a month to live, she decided to do all the things she had been postponing rather than live depressed and full of anxiety. She spends her days reflecting on her life and thinking about how to live happily, rather than grieving over her coming death filled with regret. Movie-goers will find Georgia positive and unafraid of death and can make their lives more positive than ever before. No one can escape death, unlike directors may have you believe in films. Rather than spending time frustrated, fearing death, we should be calm. Georgia's story is not only interesting to watch, but it also makes audiences think deeply about life and death.   

 

Kim Ma Seunghee/ Editor-in-Chief
smt_msh@sookmyung.ac.kr

Kim Han Yujin/ Reporter
smt_hyj@sookmyung.ac.kr


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