Seeing the Death Mask…

Can you see Death in people’s faces? Many cultures agree that you can. It is commonly referred to as the Death Mask. I personally experienced this without realizing what I had seen. It is in one of my chapters, where I go into the exact process of what had happened.

The Death Mask can be described as a morphing, of sorts, between the living, and Death. Often, it is a common phenomenon in which the living person has not died, but is alternating between the two physical realms. Naturally, it is the elderly that are most afflicted. However, others can be spotted as well.

“He looks like Death warmed over!” is a common cliche. “I don’t know what he is doing, but it looks like he is slowly killing himself with his XXXX” is another. (Substitute drinking, smoking, doing drugs, not sleeping, etc.). “They don’t look themselves today.” I had a distant relative battle cancer for quite some time. Although I did not get to see him, his last few days were spent quietly coming in and out of consciousness, and he did exclaim to his family that at last, he was ready to finally be pain free.

So what exactly is a Death Mask? I would describe it as a slight variation of the person’s regular features, but the consistency aspect is what stands out.  At a glance, it could be missed by the observer, but a more concentrated look will reveal something that is off. The person does not look like themselves. As they start getting closer to Death, the look starts to remain fixed. Glazed eyes, a crooked smile, a half smile that would not go away, an empty stare, could all be used to describe this.

In my chapter, it was a tell tale facial expression that gave it away. I won’t go into the exact details, but I was surprised to find out the subject did in fact pass away shortly after I observed the metamorphosis; it was the nature of the recollection process that literally floored me.  Another important point was that the significant other in this person’s life knew; she had to. As a matter of fact, I described it as the couple sharing a private joke that no one else knew about. Later, I realized the private joke was that Death was being cheated, or for lack of a better term, procrastinated by the living host.  When I presented this to my writing group, several authors mentioned they either had experienced this exact event, or knew someone who did.

So, the next time you spot a relative, loved one, or friend with the Death Mask, do not despair. They are preparing for a natural, peaceful end of their life, and will pass on, albeit quietly. For some, it will be an enormous relief from pain and suffering. For others, a completion of a very long journey called life.


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