I'm missing the funeral right now. My kids got sick on Saturday, just in time for the wedding. It's been one of those weeks. I've been doing a lot of thinking and I'm not sure it's going to make sense, but I wanted to put it out there.
It's a cliche of sorts. We've all read it or even said it. It's a matter of life or death. I think it should really be a matter of life and death. See, I think life and death aren't ever really separated. This was really brought home to me with a wedding followed by a funeral. I'm not talking about a cheesy movie type thing like Four Weddings and a Funeral. (I haven't seen it, but that's the title that keeps coming to mind when I think about this past weekend.) It's the starting of a new life as my sister and her husband drive off together from their reception. It's the coming together of family at a funeral that haven't all been in the same room for maybe 10 years.
I think, sometimes, for life to keep going, we need a little death. We need a reason to come together. And to really appreciate death, we need to have a life. We need to make it meaningful so that when it does come to an end, it isn't the end of everything.
This might be a really important thing to remember for writing as well. You don't have to put a character in a life or death situation. You can put them in a life situation. Or a death situation. Either way, it can be a good place to start. There needs to be something to make the character grow, to reach beyond themselves, to find meaning in their existence. And it doesn't have to be earth-shattering or staggering. Just make it life and death.