Living to be 100 is no longer strange to our hearing. The Desk Columnist of The Catholic Times gives us her reflections on this new reality. She uses the statistics she received from an on line community. In 1970 the average age for Korean men was 58.6 and women was 65.5. The statistics in 2010 showed men living to an average age of 77.6 and women were 84.4. Within a period of 40 years there was an increase of 40 years.
A recent survey made in a Korea:
men wanted to live to 83 years of age and women to 82. 26.6 percent wanted
to live from 80-84 years of age, and 8.8 percent wanted to live over 100.She mentions studies of longevity of humans going
up to hundreds of years.
With this increase of the
years of life there has also been, she says, the increased interest in
death. In the beginning of this century like a gale, we heard a lot
about eating well and living well--"Well-Being" but this has gradually
and quietly changed into "Well Dying". At one time what was difficult
to talk about, one of the taboos, has given way today to a popular
topic of discussion: interest in advancing the quality of life and
preparation for death.
The English Economist
Magazine shows that Korea was listed as 32nd out of 40 countries
in their care for the dying. The atmosphere of our society, she says,
would give credence to these results. Within the Church you have those
who have studied the situation and would like to see a change from "
lets eat well, live well and die" to understanding the death is a
part of life and life is a preparation for "Well-dying".
is need for education for this preparation. In the West she says
because of the Christian culture there is a natural relationship between
life and death which we do not have in Korea because of the change in
the Confucian culture. Death is not seen as the natural outcome of
life. She mentions the negative feelings many Koreans have with
cemeteries and charnel houses which influences our society. Even within
the Church it is not easy to find programs that help us to have a
correct understanding about death.
One of our
theologians mentions that we do not repeat death, it's once in a life
time occurrence. When life has meaning than death will have meaning.
When we have a fear of death and fight against it we fight against life
and have not accepted its meaning. Living our life fully enables us to
accept death with hope.
The hermits of the middle
ages with their life of fasting, silence, work they often used the words:
Memento Mori. "Remember Death", "Remember those who have died." We
remember death we remember the briefness of life. We will not be lazy,
and remember what awaits us after death. "We are going into eternal
life. How blessed is death and how noble is this life here on earth
that has prepared us for death." She concludes her article with these words of
Today is the Feast of All Souls; the month to pray for
the dead, to meditate on death and to make the most of the gift of life we