The Grim Reaper
When you hear the name, "The Grim Reaper," a very familiar image probably pops into your head. With the black robe and cowl, skeletal face and hands or the visage of a dour corpse, a threatening scythe, and hourglass at its last sands, this is the image the modern, western person thinks of when we personify death. But where did this visual come from? How do we know what death looks like? And since death has always been with us, isn't this image as old as that finality itself? One might think so, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Surely since there have been humans, we have wondered what becomes of us once we die, where do we go when we shuffle off this mortal coil, and how do we get there? What we have found is that yes, we have always created myths and put a face on death in order to help comprehend such an abstract and mysterious concept, but that face has morphed through the ages and varies by culture. In the ancient western world, the concept of a Grim Reaper was more of a psychopomp, a guide that takes the freshly departed to their place in the afterlife. But since we have doubts nowadays when it comes to a more universally accepted idea of an afterlife, perhaps the notion of a ghastly specter that merely extinguishes our spark when our time has come is more relatable. And he's just a mythic character, right? A cartoon? Well not if you ask some folks who claimed to have seen him and lived to tell about it. Whatever the truth, in one sense, in the end, it doesn't matter if you believe at the moment of death that we are whisked away to another realm or it's just "lights out." As the saying goes, whether king or pauper, a Grim Reaper comes for us all.
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