In the past, death was such a part of everyday life it was simply and frankly discussed. Teenagers today crave opportunities to have candid discussions about their mortality.
As a teacher of writing, I am often asked why my students read such “morbid stuff”. Why do teenagers seek out stories about vampires and zombies and death and violence? Parents are particularly interested in this. Should they be making sure their kids are reading something more “wholesome”? Something about junior detectives solving local, non-violent crime perhaps? Something about the rescue of native animals and the hijinks they get up to?
In my experience teenagers read about death and violence because they are fascinated by death and violence and as a society, we shy away from talking about it. When we talk about death – we talk it about it in a historical sense. We discuss the second world war and the tragic waste of human life, or we teach about the death beliefs of the Egyptians, but we don’t tell them what it was like when their grandfather passed away in a hospice, or what it was like when the boy from our class at school was killed by a truck while motorcycle riding. We don’t tell them what we think might happen after we die, we don’t tell them how we feel about it. We treat death like a terrible contagion. Almost as though we are risking the lives of our young if we talk about it – and I mean really talk about it – with them. It’s one of the few things that every single one of us face, and we often ignore it.