I just finished watching the Korean drama, Goblin. It is a romantic drama about loves that extend into past and future lives, which is cool and all, but what I found most interesting was the role of grim reapers.
In this drama, there are deities, humans, and grim reapers. To be a grim reaper means you have committed a great sin in your previous life.
Grim reapers have no name and do not have any memories of their past life. They work by brewing tea that can erase memories and guiding the dead to the next stage, whether that be a good or bad place.
As one can imagine, it is a very draining job. You have to deal with asshole murderers or witness the tragic parting of a child and parent. Grim reapers are still very much human in the way that they have feelings, so each death they process can be emotionally draining. All the while, they have no idea who they are or what they’ve done to deserve this punishment.
It is later revealed that grim reapers are people who killed themselves in his or her previous life. What a twist (I thought it’d be genocide or something)!
Grim reapers have to suffer as the face of death, each time understanding and valuing the importance and brilliance of life more and more. Ironically, they can never be truly alive again and the work never ends. This is punishment for abandoning their own life.
Maybe this punishment ends when we become desperate for life.
I’ve never considered suicide a great sin. I think it’s tragic. I think it’s selfish because the person who dies gets to be free, but leaves everyone else to deal with the aftermath and trauma. But I don’t see these people as sinners. I just think they are very, very sad.
Suicide is such a touchy subject. I know everybody has different limits and people can break at different points. It’s hard to determine when that point is for each person. Sometimes it can be losing everything – your job and family – other times it can be failing to get into a good school or even simply realizing one day that you don’t really have a best friend.
Is suicide a disservice to our selves even if the job of a grim reaper doesn’t truly exist? Does it justify a punishment, not just for the pain you’ve inflicted onto others, but also for giving up on your self?
Isn’t having to make the choice to kill oneself enough of a punishment?