Reflecting on the Inevitable: Mortality at the Crossroads of
New York: Oxford University Press, 2020 (264 pages) ISBN: 0190945001, 9780190945008
Death studies have, over the last twenty years, witnessed a flourishing of research and scholarship particularly in areas such as dying and bereavement, cultural practices and fear of dying. But, despite its importance, a specific focus on the nature of personal mortality has attracted surprisingly little attention. Reflecting on the Inevitable combines evidence from several disciplinary fields to explore the varying ways each of us engages with the prospect of personal mortality. Chapters are organized around the question of how an ongoing relationship might be possible when the threat of consciousness coming to an end points to an unspeakable nothingness. The book then argues that, despite this threat, an ongoing relationship with one’s own death is still possible by means of conceptual devices, or ‘enabling frames’, that help shape personal mortality into a relatable object.
In each chapter the subtleties and applicability of key ideas are enhanced through a series of illustrative narratives built up around the lives of four people at different ages living in two adjacent houses. Reflecting on the Inevitable is relevant not only to academics of death studies, but also those training and practicing in people-helping professions, as well as anyone experiencing or attempting to make sense of major life events.