Death is about the end, it’s about the fact that everything and everyone we hold dear will walk out of our life someday.
The emphasis of this card is not how the death of a loved makes us feel so sad, but that all men must die.
Though in a reading, the emotion that the querent experiences will usually be intense. When it’s not about physical death (it’s often not about physical death), it’s about the end of a relationship, the end of a career, or even the end of youth.
When talking about this card, many books will ramble about how death is meaningful and necessary, or how our spirit will carry on into the next world. I used to wonder why these books try to convince you that death and change is not scary.
I used to think death is so common and plain that there is no need to make a big deal of it. I mean, life feeds on death, big animals kill small animals so that they can live, we kill animals and plants so that we can live too. There is death in our mouth every day. What’s so strange that someday instead of we devour death, death will devour us?
Then I slowly came to understand that people fear change. Not just the pain comes from loss of something dear, but also the idea that someday their life will be totally different from what they know now.
Teenagers fear becoming adults. Young men fear getting married. Married men fear retirement. Retired men fear death. Straight men fear becoming gay. Gay men fear becoming straight.
This card is about change, and how gravely people fear it or how bravely people welcome it. These two aspects exist in this card at the same time. This card could also mean letting go, it could mean accepting the fate that life will always be full of changes, and accept whatever changes that is to come.
We talk about how death is necessary so that people could eventually learn to embrace change. We talk about how everything has to end someday so people could relax, let go, and move on.
I remember that there are decks where Death is replaced with Transformation. I am strongly against this idea. When you are trying to get rid of fear from your decks, you are trying to dispel fear from your heart. But a heart without fear is as broken as a heart without joy or love.
Trying to get rid of fear is trying to feed yourself with delusions that life is full of joy and devoid of pain. But you feel pain exactly because you have tasted the joy of life in its full. You don’t feel pain when a stranger dies, but you will feel tremendous pain when you have known how wonderful his companion is. And the joy you experienced is only as big as the pain you went through to attain it.