Holistic Huskies: Putting the “fun” in funeral

Micaela Hoadley, Staff Writer

     You know what? Death, that’s what. Did you ever think about how we treat death and funerals as a culture? It’s interesting how humans handle death and dying. Something fascinating is that it takes an average of 784 days to complete a bachelor’s degree. This is with a 14-week semester and does not include summer and winter breaks. How many days of that 784 are what most college students call death or treat it like a funeral?
There’s a variety of ways that humans celebrate life and death and accept dying. Think of all the different ideas of afterlife, reincarnation and existences! The Vikings have a flamboyant sendoff of their dead in a boat that is lit on fire. The Yanomamo perform endocannibalism, where they grind up the bones of the dead and consume it during a feast so their ancestors are always with them and a part of them. Students have their own form of death.

     Finals week is essentially a ritualistic funeral for college students. We signify that the semester is over. Our lives and our grades seem to be dying and suffering… and sometimes are definitely suffering. Students are tirelessly worked in college as they slave over papers, projects, groups projects (some do not make it, RIP), and exams. We suffer as well, but certainly not to the extent that Japanese Sokushinbutsu Buddhist monks do. They spend the last 2000 days of their life poisoning themselves. Think about that!

     These Buddhist monks essentially commit suicide over the course of 2000 days by drinking a poisonous tea. This tea then prevents bugs from eating the body after death, which allows the body to mummify. Near the end of the 2000 days, the monk will go to a tomb and seal it.

     They have nothing but a small tube for air and a bell to ring once a day to let others know that they are alive. Once the bell ceases to ring, the body is left in the tomb for another 1000 days for the mummification is complete. More than four years spent suffering and dying sounds very familiar. It’s almost as if we’re living in a community surrounded by hundreds of other young people who are slowly dying over the course of a few years. But most of us escape death!

    Think about the culture surrounding students handling our form of death. When most people think of culture, they think of food, music, dress and dance. Yes, that applies here too! I apologize for causing any vivid flashbacks, but thinking back to previous finals weeks, food consists of pasta and anything microwaveable. At the library there are only three types of music that can be heard: 1) Angry music for spiteful motivation to drive success, 2) Classical music to make that entire textbook stick in your brain, 3) Sad breakup music because of the severe disconnect between you and life due to a feeling of emptiness. Snoring may also be heard, but we respect those who self-care at all places and all times.

   As for dress you may be asking? May I suggest some sweatpants and a hoodie? Maybe those slip on shoes with fuzzy socks or some fuzzy boots will do the trick! And of course there is plenty of dancing during finals week! There’s dancing for the joy of feeling accomplished after that hard exam or maybe it’s just time for a stress-relieving study break. This is the culture of finals week for college students, and this can easily be applied when you have those terrible weeks with three exams in a row.
If you compare how we most often treat death, the model of the five stages of grief is very much reflective of finals week, or even just for the everyday exam. First, there’s the denial that the exam even exists. Then we get angry when we realize that the exam exists and blame the syllabus for such a crazy thought. Soon thereafter, we tell ourselves that everything will be fine and you can treat yourself only after you study for 5 hours straight.
But then sadness trickles in to say “Surprise Boo! It’s me: Sadness and Anxiety! We’re here because you showed the slightest bit of self-doubt.” This is where you are silently sobbing in the quiet area of the library at 11:50 PM the night before the exam. Don’t lie, we’ve all been there. And at last, the acceptance of the situation once the exam is over! You are free!
All of these feelings are so intense and manipulative and unfortunately sometimes depilating. But fear not! Most funeral and death rituals involve a strong community surrounding loved ones.

     When you’re stressed, your friends make you sit down and rest by watching a movie or just relaxing and laughing. They are they to help you through what feels like your funeral. Many wealthy Chinese men hire strippers for their friend’s funerals so that the deceased may be sent off with a smile. If that doesn’t say good and loving friend, then I don’t know what does!

    Roughly 65,000 to 35,000 years ago, Neanderthals were the first people to have evidence of ritualistic burials. They would spend days picking the correct flowers to bury their loved one.

    As the semester beings to become hectic with those last few sets of exams, keep your friends close. Eat healthy, drink some water, sleep well and laugh a lot! Stay positive so you don’t have to treat every exam, essay or project like it is the end.

     In the moment it may seem like your life is over, but there is always a tomorrow. The sun comes up and the sun goes down so that you can have a new start.  You can do it and you will be amazing! Go out there and kill your exams!

Micaela is a Anthropology major with  a Biology minor. She is the Anthropology Club’s Vice President and is a senator on CGA.