A Love Letter to the Grim Reaper on the Day of the Dead

Dearest Grim,

This is your busy time of year, what with it being the Day of the Dead and all, so I’ll try to keep this short.

I’m Jodi (yes—that’s me! Your #1 Fangirl!) and I’ve become rather obsessed with you and your work.

What a role-reversal, right? You’re the one who usually stalks people (until the bitter end, so I’ve heard), and now you’re sitting there Googling “how fast can I secure a restraining order?”. Be not alarmed, though. While I’m unambiguously infatuated, this little crush won’t turn all life-threatening on you. Taking lives is your brand promise, not mine!

Annoying Joffrey Baratheon

This is Joffrey. Doesn’t he need to be murdered?

Wondering why I’m so besotted with you, the most unpopular character of all time (even more unpopular than Joffrey Baratheon—you know, that little shit from GOT)?

  • It’s not because of the way you dress—although I do have a penchant for all-black attire (minus the bloody scythe accessories).
  • It’s not because you’re an enigmatic “bad boy”—because most of us know by now that the Dark Triad is a recipe for relationship roadkill. (You know about the Dark Triad personality traits, right? See if this troika sounds familiar, Grim: Machiavellianism [check!], narcissism [check!], and psychopathy [check!].) My Mom warned me about boys like you.)
  • It’s not because I feel sorry for you for picking the wrong job out of college. When the rest of us make a career blooper, we have the wherewithal to quit (like when the boss asks us to kill someone—we typically hand in our two weeks’ notice). You, on the other hand, turfed your moral compass in the trash, snuffed the life out of Bertha in Orlando per your boss’s request, and went on to earn the “Extra Mile Award” for killing 6,582,599 people from Covid alone.
  • It’s not because I believe you’re a “misunderstood, heart ‘o gold kind of guy.” We’ve all seen the movie where the evil character actually has a soft underbelly, and you’re not in that movie. No, you’re pretty much rotten to the moral core.

So why am I smitten with you, Mr. Reaper?

After all this unseemly besmirching, I can see why you’d be confused. This is the worst love letter of all time! So here’s the part where I’ll redeem our relationship:

  • You make me grateful to be alive. You’re out there doing a bang-up job of killing approximately 6,300 people an hour, and I’m deeply grateful I haven’t made the cut yet. Social scientists call it “downward social comparison” when we feel better about our lot in life by comparing ourselves to those who have it worse off. I have it markedly better than the 6,300 unlucky earthlings who got to look you in the eye since I started typing this missive to you. Thank you for sparing me! This is beginning to feel romantic.
  • PSL DeathYou make me live my life so much better. Knowing you’re out there, lurking in the shadows, makes me mindful of the time I have left until you ring the doorbell. Whether it’s tonight (please don’t make it tonight— we’re ordering pizza and I’d really hate to miss out) or 50 years from now, I want to live with width and depth. Knowing I have 1,898-ish Mondays left until we meet makes me want to DO SOMETHING with that time, with my life, with my hopes, with my dreams. If I knew I was going to live forever (put differently: if you didn’t exist) I’d be 750% less motivated to Get Shit Done with any sense of urgency. I’d undervalue the experience of being alive because there’d be nothing to lose … and we all know that we need an expiry date to appreciate things. There’s a reason people go batshit over Pumpkin Spice Lattes every September. WE ARE LIKE PSL’S: WE ARE “LIMITED TIME ONLY,” SO GET YOUR CINNAMON-NUTMEG-CLOVE-FLAVORED FILL OF LIFE!
  • You’ve given me the gift of equanimity. (How did you know that gifts are my love language, Grim?) Living a life worth living involves more than stuffing as much pizza as we can into our days. (👈 Debate amongst yourselves.) Coming to terms with life—and how it’s unfortunately and inextricably linked with death—is a mindful exercise in acceptance. Acknowledging your existence, Mr. Reaper, with gritted teeth grace helps me deal with the peaks and valleys of life with helpful perspectives: with amusement about the absurdity of it all, with unbridled savoring and joy when the going’s good, and with a “let’s make the best of these dwindling 4,000 Mondays” ethos that pretty much informs my reason for waking up each day.

Is our relationship dysfunctional, given this “here is how I hate you/ here is why I love you” diatribe? Perhaps. So we’re like most couples! Shall we agree to not take out retraining orders on one another after all?

Grim Reaper Love Letter Thank you for the important role you play in keeping my life a lively one. You know how Mark Twain (that famous writer guy you killed in 1910) said, “Let us endeavor so to live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry”?  I want very badly for you to come for me (maaaaany years from now) and feel like you’ve caught a real live one. It’ll be a win-win situation—you’ll get to snuff a vitality-filled life (which I know makes you salivate), and I’ll have LIVED a vitality-filled life (spurred by the awareness of your looming presence). Now that sounds like a healthy relationship to me.

Jodi Wellman

P.S.: You, me, Instagram. Let’s do it.

P.P.S.: Oh and just in case you missed it… I’d love you forever if you took 16 minutes out of your life to watch my TEDx talk!

 

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