The Economics of Death

4 min readFeb 15, 2024

Death to me has always been the most fascinating concept. Like street magic, here today and gone tomorrow, I ponder on my elusiveness from time to time. How easy it is to become something that once was, swallowed by tenses past. It unnerves me, that someday my bones will wither and I will be put to rest in a box (if I’m lucky). Above me, a smattering of words I didn’t choose for myself accompanied by two timestamps and a hyphen in between. I want to be able to tell where the hyphen ends, but things don’t usually work that way.

People have been dying a lot lately. Not sure if this is because the world is rapidly going to shit, or I am simply a lot more attuned to impermanence as a concept so that the slightest changes in the stratosphere are detected by the wiring in my brain. From time to time, posters of missing people assault my vision, along with them a lesson on the psychology of colour. A red layout because something has gone wrong and we have to be on alert. A blue one because the world is a cold place, and we must never forget.

Do you think of death often? I don’t, but whenever I do, I feel more helpless than the other times. Yesterday, I was swiping through my Instagram stories and stumbled across a heartfelt post about a boy whose corpse was found weeks after he had gone missing. The text attached to the post detailed how “he was so loved by his peers” and how it was “so sad to see him go.” A swipe to the following post revealed a day-out picnic, adorned with a retro filter. I found it amusing, then like a bucket of cold water, the sobering weight of reality crushed me. Life goes on, even after it ends. Semi-colon. The same way we plan weddings for others, to come sit down and eat rice and have something to tell their friends when they get back home, is the same way burials are perfunctory ceremonies to assuage us of the guilt of living longer than the dead. We rely so much on tradition to justify the absurdity of life.

Have you ever thought of how you would die? I had a friend who was really into astrology and dead things. She’d do readings for us once in a while. She told one of our friends that she was going to die a violent death, in a car crash, and that one replied that she had always felt like she would. The manner in which she said it brought chills down my spine. Like she’d made peace with an ending most would run away from, with a god forbid and three circles around their head. I could never be that brave.

Lately, I’ve been scared of many things. I’ve been scared of closing my eyes and not living to see my brother graduate from the University, and move out of the house and meet someone he would love to spend the rest of his life with. I have been scared of not turning 40, cropping my hair, and being the fabulous aunt who drinks wines from 2005 and sees the dust on the carpet that the housekeepers miss. Whenever I think about my future, I skim over my thirties and settle my claws deep into the neck of my forties. For some reason, I believe that’s the sweet spot, and I would really like to embody it.

Several laws of the universe rest on the principle that desperation yields negative results. Somehow, I find it difficult to align this principle with the part of my brain that is constantly yearning for safety. The voice in my head sounds like my mother’s, warning me to not enter bikes, have sex with people who don’t get tested, or do any of the heart-racing things that make us shake our heads in awe while watching TikToks and mutter, “this some white people shit.” You know? Bungee jumping, skydiving, and the likes.

I wonder if this fear is like Schrodinger’s Cat; whether it is stopping me from living to the fullest, or whether it is keeping me alive. I have visions of the end times that involve religious pamphlets and gnashing of teeth, but I don’t have enough faith in me to fully commit to the script.

Sometimes I wish I did.

Anyway, before I end this piece, I have been dying to ask you a question: do you have feelings concerning what death would look like when it comes to sweep you off your feet? Would it be the romantic, ripe, old age kind; the — I’m going to wait here patiently until you feel comfortable, and then I will stretch out my hand — kind? Or would it be violent, like a summer romance between two hormonal teenagers, here today and gone tomorrow?

Would it ever come?