Meet the Fatalities: Old Age, Serena

In THE LAST GHOST, the Death that comes to end a person's life depends on the nature of the cause of death. There are 16 deaths, called Fatalities, in the book. Over the next 16 days, we will meet one Fatality each day, and discuss which heartbreaking fictional character death belongs with each character.

Meet the Tenth Fatality, Old Age, Commonly Referred to as Serena

"Serena had a slightly pink tinge to her, her hair pinkish grey, warm smile, rosy cheeks. Woe breathed a sigh of relief, she had heard a rumor that Serena would be representing the expected deaths, but had been too afraid to believe it. Serena was the kindest death she knew, she would be merciful. Serena was her mentor, she was who she went with questions to when things were confusing—such as when she didn’t know what life to take. Serena was the only death who was literally longed for, all her cases had long lives, and she would have seen things worse than a prank gone awry."--The Last Ghost

Serena is the last of the original ten deaths, and serves as a mentor figure for the younger deaths. She also is portrayed as kindly, and merciful, a death that is welcomed, like meeting an old friend. Despite this, old age does not appear to be the primary cause of death in fictional works. However, even if it is expected it can still be heartbreaking.


To me, one of the most heartbreaking deaths is Aemon Targaryen in Game of Thrones (technically, Feast for Crows.) While literally over 1,000 characters die in the series, this is the one of the ones I find most affecting.

"He was a good man... No. He was a great man. A maester of the Citadel, chained and sworn, and Sworn Brother of the Night's Watch, ever faithful. When he was born they named him for a hero who had died too young, but though he lived a long long time, his own life was no less heroic. No man was wiser, or gentler, or kinder. At the Wall, a dozen lords commander came and went during his years of service, but he was always there to counsel them. He counseled kings as well. He could have been a king himself, but when they offered him the crown he told them they should give it to his younger brother. How many men would do that? He was the blood of the dragon, but now his fire has gone out. He was Aemon Targaryen. And now his watch is ended." -A Feast For Crows, George R. R. Martin

Aemon’s loss seems so challenging both because he was one of my favorite characters, and it hurts to lose them, and because he appears to be so aware of what is happening in regard to growing old and dying. He mourns that he did not go help his great-great niece sooner, and also has some reflections of growing old such as, “"Thousands of books, and no eyes to read them. Old age is a wonderful source of ironies, if nothing else."

What other characters do you think would have met Serena? Moana’s grandmother? Claudia’s grandmother Mimi is the babysitter’s club?

Why do you think there are fewer deaths of old age in fiction than other causes of death?