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How to Approach a Personal Essay on Death

personal essay on deathDeath is, certainly, a rather unusual topic to be addressed in a personal essay – in modern society it is generally considered to be one of the taboo topics which are not supposed to be discussed by polite people. At least, it is considered to be a topic which is almost certain to make most people uncomfortable, and educational institutions tend to avoid such situations lest they become targets of criticism.

If, however, you stumble upon the necessity to write a personal essay on death, or due to some reason you choose to write one on your own when given a choice of topic, there are a few things you should take into account before you start working.

First of all, remember that death is an extremely sensitive and delicate topic. There are almost no taboo topics today, but this one certainly looks like a one of the few that remain in this position. Modern western culture embraces life, yet every human knows that one day he is going to die, as well as all those he knows and loves. It is a frightening thought for most people, but it can be made bearable if one pushes this prospect into some unspecified future. To mention death is to remind about its inevitability.

That is why you should approach the matter carefully, making sure you are not going to insult or make anybody uncomfortable. Death as a topic gives you a lot of opportunities to produce strong and lasting impression, but your handling of the theme should be, above all, tasteful.

Nevertheless, you should always remember that the main distinctive feature of a personal essay as a genre of writing is, obviously, its personal nature. You are not only allowed, you are expected to provide your own opinion, your own examples, your own experience in this piece of writing. Repeating some humdrum statements like “Death is a very difficult issue” or “Everybody looks at death differently” isn’t enough. Personal essays are called this way for a reason – and if you have to write one about death it, most likely, means that those who have given you this task want to see how well you can work when given such a disturbing, unpleasant, greatly intimate topic.

Writing a personal essay presupposes the use of examples. As all people encounter death at some point of their life, be it death of a loved one, of a friend, relative, an acquaintance or a pet, it at the same time simplifies the matter and makes it more difficult. Don’t be afraid to write what you really think: the people who have given you the task expect to hear something original, unique from you.

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