It's Always Darkest Before The Down

“It is always darkest just before the Day dawneth.”

-Thomas Fuller

After all I figure we are blessed to be living at  an extraordinary time, maybe every moment it’s precious, because it’s the only  we got, no next heartbeat has a warranty, years ago, my father after turning the TV off walked to the bedroom where my mother was already trying to sleep, and heard him come into the bedroom, sensing she was still awake he start talking to her, telling her about the show he just watched, meanwhile he put on his pajamas and sat on the bed, suddenly he just felled backwards  into the bed, his legs still on the floor, and that was it.

He never saw the dawn, his heart stop instantaneously meanwhile he was talking, and could not finish not even the sentence, but the last word he was speaking, suddenly his heart just stop beating, provoked by early defibrillation.

By the time my mother seek help making emergency calls, and when it arrived, he was already death, way before a new down…

I had visited them a couple of weeks before, and his last words towards me, were to praise me, thing that rarely he did, I flew back to his funeral, did not want to see his body, but my sister insisted, I cried quietly.

Mother followed him ten years later although doctors told us she only had a few weeks to live. I went to see her, and spent a couple of weeks with her, she died two days after I left back to work, could not attend her funeral.

IDeath In Route To Funeral Home

Well, what can I say? When young we see life, like it will never end, as we grow in age suddenly the reality of dying it’s a thing we can see around the corner, I guess we all react to it, on a different manner, according to our inner feelings, and beliefs, some may even plan ahead and make sure their funeral will be taken care properly, others may be scared, or indifferent like facing a fact of  life and refuse to even think about it.

Some may even seek counseling, for their fears, others who knows what they may contemplate, in their lonely thoughts, if they do?

Old Man AbsorvedI In Memories

This pandemic, brought us all to think about death, one way, or another one, being in the news as a constant reminder of our own ephemeral existence, and many of us losing beloved relatives, and friends. 

The philosopher Democritus trained himself by going into solitude and frequenting tombs. Plato’s Phaedo, where the death of Socrates is recounted, introduces the idea that the proper practice of philosophy is “about nothing else but dying and being dead”.


The Stoics of classical antiquity were particularly prominent in their use of this discipline, and Seneca’s letters are full of injunctions to meditate on death. The Stoic Epictetus told his students that when kissing their child, brother, or friend, they should remind themselves that they are mortal, curbing their pleasure, as do “those who stand behind men in their triumphs and remind them that they are mortal”. The Stoic Marcus Aurelius invited the reader to “consider how ephemeral and mean all mortal things are” in his Meditations.


After every major military victory in ancient Rome, a “triumph,” as it was called, was celebrated in Rome. It was a ceremonial procession granted to victorious generals who drove in a chariot drawn by four horses. They would ride through the streets to the temple of Jupiter, on the Capitoline Hill, to offer sacrifice in the temple. When they reached the foot of the Capitoline, some of the leading captives may have been taken off for execution.

The ceremony usually started early in the morning and took up a whole day and sometimes even more than two days. Before the general entered the city at a specific point, the Porta Triumphalis, he would first give a speech praising his legions.

Victory Parade At Arch Of Victory

The victorious general who drove throughout the streets of Rome in the chariot, decorated with gold and ivory, was followed by his troops and preceded by his most glamorous prisoners and spoils, taken in war. The triumph for the victorious general offered extraordinary opportunities for self-publicity and therefore popularity with the people of Rome. The victorious general was seen as, in some way, divine, representing the god Jupiter.

Paintings depicting certain episodes of the battle were used in the ceremony. There were also musicians, as well as examples of the exotic plants and animals taken from the conquered country.

Roman Triumph Parade

The general was dressed in an elaborate red or purple toga and his face was painted red to imitate the red-painted face of the statues of Mars, the god of war or Jupiter – the King of the gods. The red paint was made with vermilion, an opaque orange-red pigment, derived from powdered mineral cinnabar.

One of the most interesting parts of the triumph was that behind the victorious general in the chariot stood a slave, holding a golden crown over his head, and whispering to him throughout the procession, “Respice post te. Hominem te memento” in the ears of the victorious generals as they were paraded through the streets, reminding him that: “Even in triumph, do not forget, you are only a mortal” Some say this is spurious, invented by later Christians, but nevertheless food for thought, at our hubris, as mere passerby mortals.  specially on these hard  trial times, where we seem going through the darkest hour, before the down.

Remember Even In Triumph You Are Mortal

About theburningheart

This entry was posted in A Brave New World, A World in Crisis, Darkest Hour Before The Down, Epictetus, Family History, Heart, Impermanence, Inner Journey, Life A Precious Gift, Loneliness, Longest Night, Loss, Memento Mori, Pandemic, Personal Story, Right Attitude, Roman Triumph Parade, Solitude, Transformation, Uncategorized, Values, Virtue and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. That’s how my dad died, though talking to my mom after a run.

    Sometimes, I wonder how our lives might be different if we somehow knew the moments of our deaths. Would we squander time, knowing that the date is yet distant? Then, would we rush to experience what was possible in the waning moments? Human nature seems to disregard what we see as distant, only recognizing what we have after it’s gone. Regardless, the one guarantee in all of the moments of a life is that they shall pass.

    • theburningheart says:

      Yes, life if may seem long, when young, by the time you are old it seems very brief, for the simple reason we live in a constant present, but ever changing, and you do not feel as great as old, as when you were young, you feel tired, weak, and fragile, and know you are near the end of the road, or as my Mother put it one day, when I exclaimed on a long term problem that is of no importance to mention, but had nothing to do with death, I just said:
      “Well, we will see where all this end.”
      Mother reply swiftly:
       “Well, what do you expect? It will all end, at the end of the street.”
      At first I was confused, but then it hit me, the house where mother was living at the time of our conversation, ended at a graveyard several blocks away, where the family already had a family grave, and where she would be buried along with my father.
      Even if my sister, at a later date changed the arrangements, and moved them somewhere else. I realize we are all different, and some of us even if old may not think much of it, but our frailty, and incapability to do what before, was an everyday thing, it’s a daily  reminder we are getting near at the end of the road, and it may be, to say the least, not something we want to dwell on.
      Mother confessed to me on my last visit:
      Don’t tell your brothers and sister, but I am so tired, and I just want to die, and be over with.”
      Mother worried to express those thoughts to them, because she lived at the time with them incapable of taking care of herself.
      My mother ignored that doctors had already given up on her, and said she will be gone within a few days, but my family decided not to tell her, as not to frighten her.
      The irony…
      But as you said, and many wise people before as well, the nature of life it’s impermanence.

  2. ptero9 says:

    As a child, I was more fascinated by the way the adults tried to keep death a secret from us. That only served to increase my curiosity! I never did though, see a dead body until I was in my twenties. In many ways, death makes life feel quite precious and yet the older I get, the more death takes on a new relevance. Family, friends, young and old pass on and leave us with the mystery of their life and ours. I currently live close by to a large cemetery. I’ve lived near cemeteries before, and I find a certain amount of comfort in the closeness to the dead. When I worked at a Benedictine monastery, one of the monks used to say, “walk with death daily.” While I can’t pretend to be completely at ease with my own death, it seems like more of a burden to ignore its presence in the midst of We the Living.

    When my mother passed on two years ago, little did I know how life changing it would be. There has been a lot to reconcile between us and as well, I wasn’t able to see her before she passed as I was living 3,000 miles away. But now, I feel her closeness and much between us has been reconciled.

    If NDEs are any indication of dying, and even if our spirit fades away into the ether, it doesn’t sound like there’s too much to worry about. My hope is just to be willing when the time comes.

    Perhaps the knowledge of death provides an opportunity for reconciling oneself to life. I feel that pull lately; to make peace with myself and others and to try to be more kind, don’t take anyone or anything for granted.

    • theburningheart says:

      I guess some people did that cover up, do not remember our parents doing that, neither remember a family member passing when a child, my first body I saw was a young boy at school who drowned he couldn’t be more than ten years of age, we stood making guard by his open coffin, I was maybe twelve years of age, the thing I did not like really, was seeing the mother crying, her pain it hurt me deeply, and made me cry silently too.
      I am not good at seeing people suffering, I feel empathy immediately and share their suffering, plus it embarrassed me with the other kids who think of you as a weakling, of course now, I know better, its not my problem, its their problem to be heartless.

      Your story about the cemeteries make me think about the “Graveyard Poets”, also termed “Churchyard Poets”, the precursors of the Romantic European poets of the 18th century characterized by their gloomy meditations on mortality, “skulls and coffins, epitaphs and worms” elicited by the presence of the graveyard.
      In India some Sadhus frequents the crematoriums of Varanasi covered in ashes Within the Shaiva sadhus are many subgroups. Some sadhus such as the Aghori share the practices of ancient Kapalikas, where they beg with a skull, smeared their body with ashes from the cremation ground, and experiment with substances or practices that are generally abhorred by society. I had in mind to write a post about the Aghori’s but sort of forgot, maybe I will do it soon.
      I am glad you are in peace with your mother now.
      Death in any case it’s our destiny since conception, and if there’s a meaning to life we will find out, or not, believe it’s important now to find a meaning now, rather than wait for death.
      Hindu scriptures tell us we will find whatever we are seeking for after death.
      Bhagavad Gita 6.30: “For those who see me everywhere and see all things in me, I am never lost, nor are they ever lost to me.”
      Personal belief counts.
      But above all, we should find peace now, not leave it for the afterlife, even if it looks like a tall order.
      Thank your for your nice comment Debra. 😉

  3. Hi. I forget when exactly, but maybe about five years ago I started thinking about the end. I’m 73, so even if I make it into my 90s, I’ve already lived far more years than I have left. To me, this is not a happy thought.

    • theburningheart says:

      Life it’s precious for most people, until it’s such a burden we want out, so, meanwhile is a tolerable, and some times a pleasurable experience to live, is alright to be alive, what its not a happy thought, is not really death, but the suffering we may go through, before we had enough, but not fear death, rather enjoy life, meanwhile it smile to us, like the old song says: Enjoy Youself (It’s Later Than You Think) 🙂

  4. leggypeggy says:

    Interesting post. Death is often unexpected. My father died at age 45 in a car accident. Here one minute and gone the next.

    • theburningheart says:

      He was pretty young.
      Usually it is unexpected, but rarely it’s a time we are ready for it, but there are some exceptions, and as you said: “Here one minute and gone the next.”

      Thank you Peggy, for your comment, we appreciate it. 🙂

  5. The older we get, the more we think of death. However, I don’t know if we can ever be completely ready for it

    • theburningheart says:

      When you are right, you are right, as we get old know, the end is near, but to be ready for it, is a different story, life despite it’s miseries is precious, until no longer can be endured.

      Thank you for your comment Luisa. 🙂

  6. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Depending on beliefs, or maybe just sort of “musings”, thinking about death in terms of that old ditty can be somewhat….. uplifting and comforting: “row row row your boat gently down the stream; merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.”
    Death isn’t seen as the end by many, only another door opening. 🙂

    • theburningheart says:

      I am man of Faith, and know we are all part of a design bigger than the individual self, regardless of the many diverse opinions as large as all the many people you may ask, do not have apprehension, about dying, but you never know the circumstances you may confront, somewhat I suspect my attitude will be similar to my mother, seeing death as a relief from her sufferings.
      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. 🙂

  7. I think that nowadays people often are so conceited that they think to be able to handle everything with money, even death, so they do not even take it into consideration anymore! But even the Roman generals imaganed to have been turned into a God, which was not less arrogant! I don’t know, but I am rather disappointed by what the human being has done with all the possibilities!
    Quote by Mark Twain:“I wonder if God created man because He was disappointed with the monkey.” Thank you, Mr. Brogido, for having taken the time to consider the importance of death with us!:)

    • theburningheart says:

      Well some or many may have the wrong attitudes toward the inevitable, I believe death it’s not as important as living is, and doing it properly, the hardest part for many of us.
      I like Mark Twain’s humor, he sure was good at it.
      Nice to hear from you Martina! 🙂

      • I very much enjoy your answer and I see it as you do, despite the fact that it may hurt very much to lose a beloved one:)
        I wish you a good time! Martina

      • theburningheart says:

        Yes, losing a loved one its hard, unfortunately its like the grain of rice asked the Buddha to a grieving mother after losing a child, he told her he will revive her son if she could bring him a grain of rice, from a household they have not experience, a lost by death. After knocking on hundreds of doors she got the idea, and if not accepted her loss, she understood, we all suffer it.
        Best wishes, Martina! 😊

  8. Leyla says:

    Very Interesting post, my friend

  9. J.D. says:

    My father died at age 43 of a very aggressive cancer. They gave him 3 months to live and he lasted 3 years. Many years ago, as a young adult, I read Carlos Castaneda’s works. One passage spoke about using death as your advisor. Ever since then, that’s what I’ve done. I admit that in my times of deep depression that I took life for granted. Just wanted to be done with it. But even so, I’ve lived each day like it could be my last. Hope all is well in your world, kind gentleman.

    • theburningheart says:

      Your father left at pretty young age, but unless you want to kill yourself, you do not pick the time, and death come when it comes.
      Living as if already we are death, it’s a way to deal with the hard realities of life, but also of course depending on our circumstances, we can try at least to live with joy, love, peace and compassion, to all, and more important, to ourselves, I know it may not be easy, but we should dare.
      Thank you Julie for your nice thoughts, and we wish you the best. 🙂

  10. Love this. As a woman alone I have time to think in this way

    • theburningheart says:

      I know what you mean , most people prefer not to, but is inevitable, just our Human condition.
      Thank you for your comment, we appreciate it. 🙂

  11. Klausbernd says:

    Thank you very much for this introduction into Greek and Roman life. We had to learn it in our old Greek and Latin lessons and hated it. You wrote about it making connections to our life today what our teacher didn’t do.
    Thanks for sharing
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  12. Great post as always.
    I’ve met and known quite a few people who knew exactly when they pass on. Unfortunately one of them was my dad. He had always these powers of seeing the future, so could my grandma, his mom. I find it horrible to know exactly what will happen, and I stick to the idea that there are things we don’t need to know.
    But I can read people very well and that helps and also disturbs, during a class, for instance.
    Any time is what it is, unfortunately we are not able to choose, like people who have to go through wars or after-the-war periods. Takes a way years and decades from life.
    It’s horrible, all this time. I keep thinking we could have managed it way better. All these “there is no threat” messages from medical authorities. I think we didn’t manage the situation at all, in fact. It’s just a reaction to events we have. there were no decent preventive measures in a timely manner, but then again: people just didn’t want to follow them.
    Sacrifice is never an attractive term. I suppose, we have to do just comply with situation. The States are way ahead of Canada.
    I hope you’re safe and we might be better off already in the fall.

    • theburningheart says:

      Life after all it’s sweet, despite it’s many miseries, and we cling to life in fear of the unknown, it’s only natural there’s such a thing as a survival instinct, not even animals, want to be the lunch of a predator, I guess we all love life, until it becomes a very heavy burden to sustain.
      The pandemic was a reminder at our mortality, and frail nature, a true memento mori, some friends passed away, others had a close call, and in my family, a daughter, and my sister had a bad time with it, also.
      Our only hope it’s to live with wisdom, and when our time come, God may have mercy on us, and as the Bhagavad Gita 7.21: “Whatever celestial form a devotee seeks to worship with faith, I steady the faith of such a devotee in that form.”
      Bhagavad Gita verse 15.15, He states, “I am seated in the hearts of all living beings, and from me come memory, knowledge, and understanding.”
      And to a non believer, I guess death should not matter, either.

      Thank you Inese for your reflections. 🙂

  13. Carol says:

    OMG, this piece really hit the nail on the head. I am now in my early seventies and try not to dwell on death although it’s a huge part of life — to get over the thought of dying, I put my faith in GOD and pray that I’ll be ready when it comes.

  14. theburningheart says:

    I am already close to your age, and I know what you mean, but I rather focus on thinking on life, since by itself it seems to keep us busy, of course, when we reflect on all the things we cannot do as before, or we do not care for, we may have to wonder a little bit on it, I guess it’s inevitable, when I write a blog, usually, never think what I gone write about it, as I sat to write, I just start writing, and there you have it, just try not to dwell on it, maybe we will be lucky, as my father was, he never even had the chance to know he will be death, before he finished the sentence, he just started, when it happened.

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