The Grim Reaper, Our friend?

Written by Kelly Wilson

The infamous Angel Of Death, the one thing that everything alive has in common. No matter who you are, where you are from, or what your station is in life we will all meet it when it’s our time. This fact has terrified and fascinated people from the earliest days of comprehension. Is Death just the cessation of activity in an organism that was once active or could it be a series of pre-planned orchestrated  events that are brought about by a Cosmic Consciousness that is marking off a checklist (as in the Final Destination movies). The impersonal and random versus the personal duties of an Entity going about his occupation.

The Grim Reaper has become an icon and today the image of it is not as frightening as it once was. The image of death is represented in many, many different ways and in almost any way you can imagine. In Hellboy 2 it was shown as an angel of sorts, in the show “Supernatural” it was shown as a man and in the show “The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy” it was the familiar skeleton figure but with a Jamaican accent. These are just a few of the many ways the figure of Death has been popularized.

From the dawn of time people and things have died, it was (and is) as much of a part of life as living.

The Hunter/Gatherer people of our ancestry faced death daily with only sharpened sticks to protect themselves from animals that were designed to kill.


 This was the only way for them to sustain themselves with food, clothing, tools, and whatever else they could use from the animal they killed. No matter who “won” the contest between human and animal Death always claimed a prize. The highest flying bird, the creature that lives at the very bottom of the deepest ocean trench, the tallest tree and the organism that lives at the deepest depth of the Earth’s crust, all of these things will face the same end when the Grim Reaper comes to claim it.

Most all religious traditions around the world have some form that represents Death. In Christian traditions the Arch-Angels Micheal and Gabriel have been used in this respect and in the Islamic traditions it is Azrael. The Egyptian God of the Dead and the Afterlife is Anubis and in the Greek traditions Thanatos is the God of the Dead while Charon the boatman ferries the newly dead souls across the River Styx which separates the lands of the living and the dead. Even animals can be used as escorts (Psychopomps) to the other side, throughout history cats, certain birds and other animals have been used as harbingers of the end of life and couriers of the soul once death has occurred.

Only a Century or so ago the odds were against a person making it to their teenage years, once they did the odds were even less that they would make it out of their 40’s. Mothers dying in childbirth, the babies and young children dying from sickness and disease, older children dying in accidents and adults dying in the workplace or in the fields. Life was not for the weak.

When someone did pass over to the other-side it became a community event. People would gather at the deceased’s home to view the body and pay last respects. They would often bring food or other “gifts” to the grieving family. Certain family members would “sit” with the dead all night. It was a show of support from a community of people who knew each other and could empathize with how it felt to lose someone because, most likely, they had lost someone too.

Today Death is a not thought of as a real figure that goes around interacting with someone, touching that person to cause their passing away and then escorting them to the afterlife, but what if it is.

People that work in Healthcare and that deal first hand with people passing away will often tell of the dying person talking to and interacting with an invisible presence, sometimes for days, before they finally cross over.

It was reported that before Sam Kinison (a famous and controversial comedian in the 80’s) died after a car wreck he spoke to someone that only he could see. It’s said that he told whoever he was speaking with that he didn’t want to die and that he wasn’t ready; whatever the spirit said back to him obviously comforted him because it’s said that he then agreed by saying O.K. then he passed quietly. This is just one of an infinite amount of stories where a person spoke to and interacted with an invisible entity just before they died.

I work in healthcare and have personally been told that someone’s family member came to visit them not long before they passed. My own Grandfather interacted with his long dead brother for two or three days before he passed away quietly. Are these reports just random or coincidental occurrences? Are they really the spirits of loved ones come to prepare us and help us just as they would in life? Are they one singular spirit doing its job in a form that it believes will help us to be calm and accepting?

What if Death (the Grim Reaper) does indeed come to us? What if it’s a real Spirit that comes to make the transition easier? The form of a loved one would be a calming presence and easy for us to accept and being a spirit it could assume any shape that it pleased. When people are faced with a stressful situation those around them try to calm them by getting them to focus on images and things that are pleasant (flowers, animals, loved ones, etc.). Wouldn’t a beneficial spirit want to do the same?

We fear Death whether it’s a spirit or just a cessation of activity in a once active organism. The realization that we will step over into an unknown place at some point is terrifying for a person and heartbreaking for their loved ones but it is something that will happen to us all eventually.

Would it help if there was an entity that came to comfort and prepare us for the transition? Would it not make a difference?

Have you ever known someone who was about to pass away that was claiming to interact with an invisible loved one or spirit?

(Photo Credits: Unknown)

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