Humans seem to be the only creatures that have a concept of time in motion. We are always advancing toward death and we know that death must come. So why are we afraid to think about our own death? It seems death is a normal, inescapable experience for the living, but many humans fear it, and many cultures avoid discussing it.
One reason for this denial and fear might be because death no longer occurs surrounded by family. Instead, hospitals have taken the family’s place and no longer have to face death “in the eye”. One movie, The Bucket List is a comedic attempt at the very notion of death denial. In The Bucket List, we see that chronic illnesses can afford a sick person, their family, and friends time to reflect on life and death.
The title of the movie is a reflection of America’s death denying attitude. The title is simply an extension of the euphemism “kicking the bucket” and is meant to lighten the viewer’s preconceptions about death in the movie. The title focuses attention away from the death and on to the last stage of life. Consider if the title of it was “Death Beckons”. Would audiences still want to see the movie?
Many lines in the movie are thought provoking but one in particular stands out. Carter is asked what he is doing in the hospital bed and he replies, “fighting’ for my life.” His words indicate that he wants to live and demonstrates death denial because he sees his life being taken from him. Although, he is actively dying, he did not outright say this because lying in the hospital bed disguises death and gives the dying person hope.
The movie displays some diverse aspects concerning death including spirituality. Cole has unique unresolved spiritual issues and he states he cannot grasp the concept of faith. Cole reacts to Carter’s faith stating, “Halleluiah, pass the mustard!” Perhaps Cole fears the unknown afterlife. The conversation brings to light that accepting faith is an individual experience with diverse outcomes.
Both men deal with psychosocial matters before their deaths, but Cole has painful emotional issues to resolve. Cole, looking ill, looks in the mirror and states that somewhere somebody is having a heart attack. Until now, his life had been career climbing with him in control, and he would rather have evaded this confrontation by dying suddenly (like heart attack). Cancer forces him to confront the unresolved emotional things. Cole needs to mend his relationship with his estranged daughter and does so by kissing a beautiful girl (his granddaughter)—one of the last items on his list ( see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iioBwO6vnEs )
Overall, the movie portrays the realistic yet diverse aspects of death: fear of facing the unknown, solitude, and denying life ends too soon. In my opinion, a bucket list should embody not just one’s last days, but everyone should do their own “bucket list” long before facing death.