Why I Don’t Understand #RIP
Why do we talk about death as if we’ve died before?
I’ve been fascinated by the sentiment of “RIP,” which is the most used expression assigned to people who die, as a form of respect and acceptance that dearly departed souls will find eternal peace.
Almost all of us have relied on #RIP, each time we’re tasked with collectively acknowledging these events, but I have to admit that I’m beginning to wonder why we assume that those who’ve passed on are automatically “resting easy” in the heavenly clouds above?
Why do we talk about death as if we’ve personally experienced it?
During a google search, I asked: “what does rest in peace mean?”
And the results confirmed that the term “rest in peace,” originates from Latin phrase requiescat in pace, which means may the deceased rest in peace.
RIP first made its appearance back in 1681.
As a child growing up in a Christian household that took the worship of God and his only-begotten Son very seriously, I was exposed to both the violent and fantastical versions of what it takes to remain in the Lord’s favor.
Through the graphically gruesomely Christian movies from the late seventies and early eighties, that were inappropriately showcased to boarding school girls, who were as young as 11, we understood the dire consequences of rejecting The Ten Commandments.
And even worse were the scarier narratives that instructed the frightening prospects of being devoted believer, due to the biblical rapture and “number of the beast,” that we would have to willingly sacrifice our lives to welcome or avoid.
But when it came to discussions about death and the afterlife, the associated themes were considerably less menacing if you were God’s child. The teachings emphasized the glorious reunion with loved ones, who are apparently awaiting our arrival, having transitioned first.
We were also relentlessly reminded about the importance of obeying God’s word in order to guarantee our admittance to heaven. If we chose to ignore the rules set forth by adults who claim to know God best, the punishment would be hell fire.
As I got older, I became fascinated with what it would be like to see my grandfather again, after my death, and the more I tried to picture it, the harder it was to convincingly submit to the outlandish notion that “heaven” is this plush haven, that’s reserved only for God’s chosen angels.
Not only does it sound righteously elitist, but it’s also the homage to the absolutely wild and unrestricted imagination of humans, who will go to great lengths to romanticize the ritual of death in ways that weaponize the emotions of the vulnerable and weak.
If you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you’ve never died before. You may have been close to death, but that’s not the same as never regaining your pulse.
For those who remain on earth, living and breathing, it’s unsettling to contemplate what happens once our souls evacuate our bodies.
We imagine the moment we stop breathing, and after that, we’re free to develop our personalized storyboard. Or we can rely on the evangelical premise that requires revisions, depending on whether or not you subscribe to white supremacy.
Thankfully, I’ve evolved from the status of pretending that Christianity isn’t the carrier of a deadly contagion, that ultimately destroys obstacles in its view.
From British colonialism on behalf of the Church of England to the ungodly boom of mega-churches; there’s nothing holy or pure about any of these tainted institutions.
And to be completely honest, life on earth isn’t that great!
No matter your wealth and fame, and regardless of how blessed you are with the loving presence of family and friends, it can all come crashing down in an instant.
And then what?
I guess that’s why seeing #RIP attributed to those who left this world against their will, and in the most horrible of circumstances is starting to grate on my sensitive nerves.
Why do we predict that their souls are at rest? Who declared this status a worthy outcome?
Of course we need to hold on to the hope that those who were cruelly taken from us without warning, are basking in the victory of sweet slumber, as illustrated in another popular salutation, “rest easy.”
For me, there’s no relief in the knowledge that being dead means sleeping forever. That permanent loss of activity is jarring, and we also don’t have any proof that exited souls are actually “resting” in the bosom of anything.
Perhaps the best approach would be to either admit defeat in the arena of confidently providing summations of what you haven’t yet succumbed to, or apply the logic that dictates how we go back to where we were before birth.
Which is depressingly nowhere.
Sometimes the stuff that seems so complicated and mysterious really only demands our willingness to boldly embrace the cold hard truths. Those symbols are traditionally revised to suit the palates of dreamers and conspiracy theorists, who can’t help themselves.
I don’t have the answers, but I sure as hell don’t want to sleep forever, and I’m not comfortable wishing the same to the ones who have left before their time.
I prefer to be surprised when it happens, because in this scenario, the less you know, the better!