He Deserved To Die

I watched a movie the other day, not paying enough attention to be able to tell you the name of the film or any of the plot, but one line caught my attention. “He deserved to die.” We’ve heard that sentiment so often that it’s become all but imperceptible, and yet, for that brief moment, I actually heard the words and now the phrase keeps rattling around in my head.

He deserved to die.

The “he” in question was a bad guy, that I remember. So is death a punishment? Is that why he deserved to die? Since most people seem to believe in some sort of paradisiacal afterlife, it would make more sense to say that he didn’t deserve to die.

RIPEither way, there should be no “deserving” when someone talks about death. Death comes for all of us — young, old, middle-aged, saintly, wicked, average. We don’t really know what is in people’s hearts and mind, so perhaps everyone is deserving of death. And yet, stillborn infants have not done anything to deserve death — have not done anything at all, in fact — but they are doomed to die before they’re even born.

If the dead deserved to die, does that mean the rest of us deserve to live? But there is no deserving when it comes to life, either. We’re simply born. What we do with our life is up to us — at least in theory. Often we have no choice as to our circumstances, so we do the best we can.

Deserved to live.

Deserved to die.

After the death of my life mate/soul mate, I used to get lost in the conundrum of death, wondering which of us got the worst end of the deal. If life is a gift, why was it denied him? If he is in a better place, why am I still here?

I still don’t know the answer, but I do know he didn’t do anything to deserve to die, and I did nothing to deserve to live. It’s just the way things are.

Deserved to live.

Deserved to die.

Strange words that don’t mean much of anything.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

8 Responses to “He Deserved To Die”

  1. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    I think it comes down to you deserve to live without certain people in your life. Killing them off means they are no longer around to bother you. I’ve killed off people I’m not crazy about in my fiction. It doesn’t ad up to a tragedy when I do so. It is only a tragedy when someone you really care about is no longer around.

    I would sometimes like to believe there is some kind of deal. In medieval times there was the belief that if you were a good Christian of humble status in this life then you would have the station of royalty in the afterlife.

    The wealthy used to donate land to the Church to avoid the guy in the red jumpsuit who carries a pitchfork. They probably also thought that if they were less well off when they died they’d have a better place if they did make it past the golden gate.

    Meanwhile the peasant is sold, or at least is trying to sell himself on the notion that those who lord over him, literally, in this life will bow down before him in the next.

    As for who really deserves to die, maybe it is those people who are in pain and cannot have quality of life anymore.

  2. Kathy Says:

    Yeah, I don’t think I’m a fan of the word “deserve” at all. Sometimes you’ll hear, “Indulge yourself – you deserve it.” Okay, yes, have fun with an occasional indulgence or pampering or whatever, but I’m not sure deserve is the right word. Because if you deserve it, it means that somebody may not deserve it and who’s to decide that? 🙂

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Good points. I don’t like “deserve” in any context, either. It seems to create a sense of entitlement. If someone has good luck, they are good people who deserve it. If someone has bad luck, they did something to deserve it. I’m not sure we deserve anything, good or bad.

  3. J. Conrad Guest Says:

    I’m reminded of the movie Unforgiven, with Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman. Near the end, Eastwood is about to finish off Hackman, who lies on the floor of a saloon, already with a bullet in him. Hackman looks up at Eastwood and says, “I don’t deserve this … to die like this.” To which Eastwood replies: “Deservin’s got nothin’ to do with it.”

    Good things happen to bad people as often as bad things happen to good people. Very little, if anything, that happens to us, good, bad, or indifferent, has anything to do with deserving. Maybe it’s just human nature to try to find reasons behind everything when in fact there is no reason.

    People talk about God and how we can’t know his plan and why he allows this or that to happen. What if he has no real plan? After all, he gave us freedom to choose.

  4. Carol Wuenschell Says:

    I agree with all that you said. And I also don’t like the concept of “deserving” something in life (or not). I think we humans crave justice. We try to see it in the workings of the world, but it isn’t really there (in my opinion.) I think a lot of fiction has to do with trying to create justice. It’s so hard to do in the world, but fiction lets us make the story turn out the way it “should.”

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      You’re exactly right. We want justice, or at least poetic justice, but with real life so often you get . . . whatever. All we can do is celebrate the good times and get through the bad times as best as we can.

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