A correspondent described death as “a holy experience”. There is nothing holy about death.

Death is a natural “experience”. Its chief characteristic is not “holiness” but unpitying harshness. It strikes the innocent child who has just come into this world while sparing the hardened criminal until he reaches old age.

We all have an appointment with inexorable death, as an ancient Arab tale relates: a man was walking down  the street one morning when he saw Death looking at him strangely. In a panic, the man fled his native city, seeking to place as much distance between himself and Death as possible. In the evening, he arrived in Samarra but he found Death waiting for him there.

The reason Death had looked so strangely on the man in the morning was that he was surprised to see him in that place for Death knew that they had an appointment in Samarra that night (Robert Irwin, The Arabian Nights: A companion).

All powerful is death. It is on guard even in the hour of happiness, wrote Rainer Maria Rilke.

As for “Death, where is thy sting?”, ask anyone who has lost a loved one whether death “stings” or not.

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