Divorce and Death - Are They Really as Similar as We Think?
Updated: Aug 5, 2019
written by: Attorney Jeremiah N. Ollennu
Although we see the need to re-work broken marriages, we are held back from fixing them by our experiences with fake relationships. Our experience with the fake gives us the false sense that divorce is like death. But divorce and death have nothing in common. They seem similar to our distorted minds, but their differences are obvious. Yet in our conflicted emotions, the two phenomena seem to be strikingly identical. The reason is that we see what we want to see. In divorce especially, we are too eager to organize our lives into the two neatly labeled categories of good and evil.If we insist on comparing, then we shouldn’t compare apples to oranges. It is our sham marriage, and the death certificate that are similar. They have no meaning for those about whom they are issued. They are important pieces of paper for government, and public records. Otherwise, they are worthless pieces of paper.
Our reason for treating divorce like death is confusing and strange; however the error is understandable, especially if we look at divorce and death superficially. Someone must go to court when we divorce, and someone goes to court when we die. The legal jargon aside, death and divorce appear similar because in both we are, admittedly, irretrievably broken. While, this logic may support the synonym, it is the way we think of loss, more than anything else we do in our lives, that accentuates our misguided equation of death to divorce. We treat most events in our lives with economic shorthand; measuring life with a cultivated sense of gains and losses. In our minds, there must be final analysis, when we give accounts. If a chapter ends, we close our books. We measure most things in our lives by numbers. The higher our numbers in years and money, the better off we think we are. We habitually talk about the quality of things, but our predominant thought process is about loss, or when the numbers don’t add up to what we want to see. We discard anything we consider to be a loss.
This is how we think about death and divorce. They are losses, and we dispose of their remains by identical ritual processes. In both instances, there is fear and despair and we are in a hurry to purge ourselves of our losses; unless there is money to be made in delaying the final outcome. We’re most attentive when we feel entitled to money. It shakes down to the estate and it is all business how we divide the spoils. We don’t spare anything that we can take from the dead or divorced; our profit instinct is at its most primitive in these tragic moments. Our children get similar treatment in either event. We assign custody and parenting rights, and tie them to money. The responsibilities for meeting our children’s needs too, get settled with the same anxieties.
It doesn’t seem likely that we will change our association of death and divorce anytime soon. So, we may take their similarities for granted. But what if we’ve been wrong about death? Won’t we also be wrong in how we think, and treat ourselves in divorce? Do the dreadful images of death we’ve imposed on divorce help us in any way? Apart from making us act like irrational creatures, what benefits do we find in transposing our misconceptions about dying to the end of our marriages?
Our longest standing epidemic is fear. We’re so afraid to die we build walls around cemeteries. Our problem with death is that it is unknowable to our egotistical and materialistic minds. It stands outside of our intellect because we can only die once. However, we have tried to comprehend what it’s like to die through sensations of loss and fear.
We’ve reduced the meaning of death to what we’ve seen and heard. It is a spiritual mystery, which we should approach with humility and faith. Instead, we come to it in fear. We subject everything we do to transactional analysis, even death. If we can’t quantify the experience, we think of it as a loss. This is because we’re accustomed to explaining our realities in singular dimensions. That’s what makes our existence shallow.
There’s a limit placed on our consciousness. It is the narrow scope of our sensory perceptions. It is our material awareness, which blocks our access to true knowledge. We lack emotional and spiritual insight. This is why we find nothing in our material world to educate ourselves about the meaning of death, or divorce.
We’re in a fog. It’s a thick veil of ignorance, which allows our minds to guess by fear. What happens to us when we die? This is our focus. But there are deeper and elementary questions we’ve not paid attention to. What is death? Why do we die? Without taking time to answer these fundamental questions, we may never get to the truth about what happens after our so-called death.
We walk into marriage with as much anxiety about divorce as we do in our regular contemplation of death. We spend way too much effort worrying about the two things we know too little about. We’ve adopted private interpretations of other people’s experiences, and imposed it over a world that seems too busy in its ignorance to question the truth before it.
Clearly, we don’t have a proper philosophy of death. Our misconception about dying is shockingly naive. It is incomprehensible, with frightening visions borrowed from painters, storytellers and poets from ages gone by. Most of the ideas are too intellectually dark to hold with sincere pride. Still, we hang on to them blindly. We’re comfortable with ignorance, because it’s cheaper to defer knowing what death is truly about, until we approach its doors. We’re too afraid to really find out why we die. It is interesting that we don’t show much reservation in treating divorce like death, the one phenomenon we fear most.
At a point, our joints no longer hold us upright. The skin falls off our bones, and our minds begin to fail. We take these episodes to mean the end of life. Yes, it is the end of the material life. When our bodies die, the electrical impulses that dominate the peripheral transactions we’ve called living, must cease. Yet all that we see in ourselves, and the diverse expressions of the nature around us, confirms that our fear of death is strange and immature.
We float fantastic stories to justify our disconsolate disposition about the meaning of death. We avoid even thinking about the subject out of fear. But our tales about death don’t explain our fears. Rather, they speak to some primitively ingrained fear. It denotes an unnatural xenophobia, and reflects our vain attempts to differentiate ourselves by faith, through the fear of death. It is by fear-mongering that others must join with us, or perish. We are relentless in our push to bend others to our will. It is as though we take what we lack within ourselves by force, fear, or death.
Our predominant avocation is to seek pleasure, and avoid pain in all things. And we seem to evaluate our experiences with this pleasure versus pain rubric. Nothing comes within our consciousness as valuable without passing this test. Not death and certainly not divorce.
We should honestly concede that whatever death happens to be, it is not like divorce. We may continue to announce divorce publicly with anguish, and go through all the cycles of grief with as much intensity as we do when death happens. But the two phenomena are entirely different. One is a product of sensory interpretation. The other is spiritual, and beyond our rational explanations.
© Jeremiah N. Ollennu and www.ollennuandassociates.com, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jeremiah N. Ollennu and www.ollennuandassociates.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.