Brakhage died because of animation. He died in the pursuit of pushing the technique founded by Len Lye....or Harry Smith (no one seems to know for sure): hand painted film. It was from the paints he used that gave him cancer, which he eventually died of. And long before his death, in fact, all through out his life his films were filled with analogies to death (and life). One of his animated films in particular, "Mothlight", he describes as "What a moth might see from birth to death if black were white and white were black". The entire film is simply clear leader with bug body parts, blades of grass, leaves and other things that Brakhage found around his cabin in the mountains of Colorado pasted on to it.
This is interesting because over ten years later he used the same technique over ten years later in his film "The Garden of Earthly Delights". A direct reference to Hieronymus Bosch's painting for what he sees a lying between Heaven (Eden) and Hell. However, in this he oscillates between a negative and positive image begging the question: is this what a moth actually sees through out its life in the eyes of Stan Brakhage?