I’m not emotionally equipped to deal with most things, least of all death. Last Tuesday, slightly before half past nine in the evening, I received a phone call and through stifled sobs was told that my friend James was dead. It’s the sort of news that knocks the wind right out of you. It was one of those moments where life pops up and shouts “Oh hi there! You’re not using that heart are you? Great! Now let me carve it out of your chest with this comically large spoon. And since I’m here I may as well take your digestive tract too. You don’t need that. Thinking about it I’m sure you can manage just fine if I just hollow you out completely.” When life decides to take a swing at you it always swings in with the haymaker. I’m never quite sure how to react to a bombshell like that. I probably spent an hour just staring off into space trying to get my head round it. Even now, almost a week later it hasn’t really sunk in. Part of me still believes it’s all just an elaborate joke. Denial makes it easier, it makes the unbearable just a little bit easier to swallow. It tides you over until the pain isn’t quite so sharp, until it’s just a little easier to live with. I don’t think I’m alone in this. Despite the inevitability and ubiquity of death, humanity seems to try so very hard to avoid recognising it as even there. Bit the bullet, bought the farm, shuffled off their mortal coil, pushing up the daisies, checked out, cashed in their chips, the list goes on. We avoid it because it hurts. It hurts like all manner of hell.