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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Six Feet Deep

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” – 1 Corinthians 15:55

When I graduated high school in 1995, I strutted along a coliseum floor and sang aloud a song about the end of life. On the 1993 album Till Death Do Us Part, classic rap group Geto Boys featured a song entitled “Six Feet Deep,” and I gleefully chanted it in defiance of death.

The track, which contained the vocals of Marvin Gaye and Big Mike, was an anthem to the celebratory moment, because I didn’t think I’d live to see the day when I would graduate with my peers. This was largely associated with many occasions prior to my graduation when I listened to the song and contemplated my demise.

Unlike a number of people with whom I’ve spoken over the years, I was raised to understand that death is an inevitable part of the life cycle. Neither my mom nor dad hesitated to remind me of this fact.

In adolescence, having been raised under the auspice of religious dogma, I thought of death as a character and I taunted it when engaging in dangerous activities. I was prepared for the end of my life and I’d witnessed many instances of death by the time I sang the Geto Boys song during graduation.

Not long after graduating, I entered the United States Marine Corps with openness to the idea of killing or being killed as a result of my service. Though slightly different than the level of violence to which I exposed myself as a teen, I was well aware of the Corps’ history of bloodshed—which wasn’t discomforting to me.

Admittedly, I don’t empathize with people who fear death or mourn those who have transitioned from this plain of existence. Nonetheless, I maintain rational compassion for the experience of people who behave otherwise.

As Scarface stated in the Geto Boys song when addressing a friend who passed on, “Why’d he have to die’ is the question that we’re under, but everyone knows that every day’s a different number,” I consider death as a certainty. For this, I am grateful for how my parents exposed me to the truth at a young age.

When working with clients on matters related to death, I use Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) and existentialism to guide our sessions. What I’ve understood over the years is that even when challenging irrational beliefs related to death, people may still be afraid to die or sad about having lost loved ones.

And this response is completely natural.

Fear and sorrow are naturally-occurring emotions which do not need to be pathologized— regarded or treated as psychologically abnormal or unhealthy. As such, I don’t shame clients for exhibiting these emotions.

On the other hand, there are some people who exacerbate the process of suffering and this form of self-disturbance may be worth addressing through behavioral health treatment. After all, demanding that the people we love shouldn’t, mustn’t, or oughtn’t to die isn’t necessarily helpful.

Regarding this, in “Six Feet Deep,” Bushwick Bill stated, “A sad sight to see my homie take his last breath. Everybody’s trippin’, ‘cause they can’t accept my homie’s death.”

From an existentialist perspective, I understand that everyone I’ve ever known, currently know, and may ever know will die. In the most literal terms, and as rapper Trippe Redd once declared, “You gon’ die!

From an REBT perspective, and whether or not you like or love the fact of life ending in death, a person can practice unconditional life acceptance in order to relieve self-inflicted, needless, or prolonged suffering about death. It may be sad to see a homie die, though accepting that the friend has expired can alleviate your agony.

What I didn’t understand in 1995, or even throughout my military service from 1996 through 2007, was that although death is inevitable I didn’t need to seek it out. Hanging with knuckleheads on the blocc and joining the Corps in defiance of death was unnecessary.

For his verse on “Six Feet Deep,” Big Mike explores this topic from a rational angle by stating, “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to take the chance. They chose the music, so they had to dance.”

Perhaps fortunately for those who have loved me throughout my life, the music I’ve chosen hasn’t yet resulted in the dance of death. Be that as it may, the people within my inner circle are well aware that when my time comes to transition from this life, I welcome la bella muerte.

How about you, dear reader? Are you prepared for the day when you may be placed six feet deep? Or, do you perhaps disturb yourself with beliefs about your inevitable death? If the latter, I may be able to help.

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As the world’s foremost old school hip hop REBT psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


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