Most people don’t like to think about their own death. Chuck Wendig wants to change that. Wendig is the macabre mastermind behind “This is How You Die,” a Tumblr that encourages readers to fantasize about the cause of their own deaths, in great detail. The anecdotes toe the line between coming to terms with one’s mortality and fetishizing it. But in writing about their own death, people end up opening a window into their lives.
“Your hand trembling, you decide to take a drink. No one else in the bar hears you fall off the wagon,” one entry reads. “The next several nights are a blur. Shiny barstools patched with duct tape. Heavy glasses smeared with fingerprints. Waking up in your own vomit-stained clothes. Finding mysterious bruises and cuts on your face. Your friends stop calling. Your family stops sending you money. Your possessions slowly disappear, replaced with empty liquor bottles. And then, one day, the blur stops. Everything stops.”
Wendig intends the small stories to be “a way to take power over our death, to accept mortality, and to confront the fears and fantasies surrounding not just our death, but the mortality of everybody we’ve ever met.” He started it as a way to subtly promote his novel, “Blackbirds,” about a girl who can tell the way a person will die just by touching him or her. The book will be released in April.
Death-blogging and the book came out of Wendig’s own personal tragedy, after he lost several members of his family to cancer. “Death like that takes the wind out of you — it’s like a cannonball punches a hole clean through your sails,” he said in a e-mail. “We all realize that someday we’re going to die, but it’s like the realization doesn’t have teeth until your loved ones start to go.”
The blog is more than stories — it’s macabre images of ghosts, blackbirds and CT scans. But the stories are the most chilling — or, for some, thrilling — part. Some of the contributors imagine that their death will come at their own hands, something that concerns Wendig.
“Most seem fictional, though a few people have written more personal entries,” he said. “That said, I do wonder what happens if I end up getting one of those. Ignore it? Post it? Alert the authorities? Internet anonymity makes it hard to do anything — but that doesn’t make dealing with it any simpler.”
“This is How You Die” joins other niche sites looking to promote a greater understanding of mortality and the process of dying, such as Order of the Good Death. One of the contributors to Order of the Good Death, a mortician, video-blogs the answers to common death questions about cremation and embalming.
Though Wending has gotten a great response from readers so far, “This is How You Die” may not be everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to Internet entertainment. But don’t worry — if it seems a bit too grim, head over to the site that may be its polar opposite: The Nicest Place on the Internet.