Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

In the Face of Death, an Unsure Response

I am the youngest in my family — the youngest of not just my nuclear family, but of my entire extended family in America.

That means that as I was the last to be born, I was also the last to reach puberty, get a phone and attend college. I’ve recently come to the realization that this also means that, most likely, I’ll be the last to die. Just as I had to attend everyone’s high school graduation before attending my own, I’ll have to attend everyone’s funeral before attending my own.

I understand that death is a grim topic of discussion, but it is a topic that has been all too relevant to the Georgetown community for the past couple weeks. Furthermore, I recently attended my uncle’s funeral, and I think that the idea of a funeral warrants reflection.

Of all the human rites of passage, it is safe to say that funerals are the most awkward. Most of the time, you gather with your family to celebrate a graduation or a marriage with many laughs and more than a few alcoholic beverages.

At funerals, you face this ambivalent joy upon seeing cousins for the first time in months, yet grief because someone is missing. In short, funerals aren’t exactly pleasurable. But we honor them anyway. Why?

We honor funerals out of duty to our loved ones, and I think it says something noble about human beings that we sometimes act out of duty alone. We don’t mourn the dead because it makes us happy. We do it because of an impulse just as true to the human experience as the search for pleasure.

And after we mourn, we move on. The passing away of Andrea Jaime (NHS ’17) last month saddened us all, but we must eventually move on. Some grieved for just a couple minutes before the inevitable, all too regular Georgetown busyness captured and captivated us. For those of us who knew her more closely, the process wasn’t so quick. But as grim as it is to say, life goes on. And as your typical busy 24/7 Georgetown student, I even found myself worrying about the chemistry test I had the next morning throughout my uncle’s funeral.

But there must be some golden mean to be found between mourning too little and mourning too much over the death of a loved one. Psychologists recognize grief after a family death to be natural, but in some instances, grief can evolve into a crippling depression that we can all recognize as extreme.

So while it’s clear that we should keep our humanity and honor our deceased, the tragedies of life seem to necessitate a certain degree of stoicism. Especially as I realize that with a combination of luck and general prudence over my lifetime, there will be many funerals left for me to attend, and it would be a mistake to get too emotional after each loved one passes away.

And honestly, I think that’s OK. As scary as it may be for a pre-med student to say this, I don’t think that death is the worst thing in the world. To be honest, I don’t know. Death is such a mysterious thing anyway, even for those of us with religious convictions. We have hope in an afterlife, we have faith in an afterlife, but can we really speak about such matters with absolute certainty? But even then, as we take faith that our loved ones end up “in a better place,” it becomes obvious that death has its most poignant effect on those who live on. What is undeniable is that death bereaves those stuck in life and challenges them to adapt.

I don’t know. Life goes on. I think that’s all that can really be said.

Ayan Mandal is a freshman in the College. TECHNOLOSOPHY appears every other week at

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