by Lia Walton
He might have had more spiritual, financial and sagacious means than most. He might even have had a more healthy self-esteem through his gigantic practice, art and fandom. Research originating from Ernest Becker’s pioneering work in the 70s on the Denial of Death has shown that self-esteem provides psychological protection against existential terror, so that the greater your fear of death, the lower your self-esteem – and vice versa.
But David Remnick, in his privileged position as the last to interview the late Leonard Cohen, surmised that the poet’s passing was a “model of how to live your last days if you can.” So, the Troubadour’s creative approach to his ending of life, on personal, practical, spiritual and artistic levels, could serve as the quintessence of all that bevival aspires to inspire.
He said he was: “Ready to die, I hope it isn’t uncomfortable; spiritual things have fallen into place, for which I am deeply grateful.” We know from his son’s public sharing that, in the end, even though he was allergic to most of medicine that would have alleviated the excruciating pain, he: “passed away peacefully at his home in LA with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records. He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humor."
The opposite of the denial of death would seem to be deliberate death consciousness, an art to life that the “godfather of gloom” worked hard to enrich and express for most of his career.