Monday, February 06, 2006

Death Does Not Become Me

I have been thinking a lot about death lately. Not sure if that zapped my writing lately, but there it is. I have noticed on several blogs that this is a topic. Perhaps it is a topic all year 'round, and I am just seeing more than my fair share of viewings lately.

I am not a down person, but several blog entries have touched me. A woman writing about the death of her almost middle-aged brother, another woman talking about two brothers who died very young, a man talking about a father, another woman talking about her grandfather, another woman mentioning her grandmother. Most bloggers share little else, different virtual friends, different writing styles, different interests.

It is difficult to lose someone no matter what their age is - the young because of the songs still yet to be sung, the old because it is closing the doors on their contributions to your life. Even if they are not central to your life, it can sometimes touch you – not sure if it is because it brings up thoughts of one's own mortality or memories of others who have passed on.

I don't like death – I am not good at it. I mean, if someone has a family member who dies, I am one who signs the card, "happy birthday," not reading it. Or wanting to say, "I know how you feel," and practically biting my tongue because I know practically everything out of my mouth is not comforting, not compassionate.

But I am not alone. I have heard co-workers tell women who have lost children before they were born, "At least this was not a child," or "you could not have been too attached to the fetus." I have not said this, but it is the kind of thing I am scared of saying. Or if the death was on December 24, "At least he did not die on Christmas. That would have really ruined the holiday forever." I am scared of saying all of the above.

You know, in previous generations, death was more a part of life. You lived near your relatives, you saw them die instead of getting a call about funeral arrangement, and perhaps cared for them when they were dying. Perhaps you were there when they breathed their last breath. I don't know. Now, everything seems less personal, more medical. And death is strange to me.

Who knows, one day I may be able to better accept when people die. Not today, not at this point in my life. So if you have lost someone recently, or it is near the anniversary of their death, I wish you and your family peace.


kathi said...

It is hard losing someone close to you, but I believe it' my loss, not theirs and I'll see them again. So, I try to find joy in it, and not feel sorry for myself. I read on someone's blog about death 'would those held captive mourn for the one who escaped?' and I agree with that.

kathi said...

I didn't mean to sound insensitive, though. It's impossible to understand what someone feels. Sometimes all you can do is let them know you love them and that you're there should they need you.

Sheen V said...

I also have a tough time comforting the greiving and have no idea what is the right thing to say.

Anonymous said...

I als

Anonymous said...

Maybe the best thing to do is open up an opportunity for them to speak. Ask a question maybe? I'm sure they have had too many people lay brief comments at their feet and walk away not wanting to bother them.

Your a good listener right? ;)

Joe said...

I never feel sorry for those that die, but I do for those they leave behind.

To the point of offering comfort, I'm often amazed at how callous and cold people can sound when trying to say something sympathetic. Sometimes it's best to simply say "I'm sorry" or event to just say nothing at all.

Prata said...

Death must be pleasant. No longer fettered to suffering, no longer trapped as it were in a state of stasis (of physicality). Mmmmm. Pleasant.

Mike said...

Not one of my favorite subjects. I hate going to visitations simply because I don't know what to say to the people who have just lost a loved one.

The actual funeral itself doesn't bother me as much for some reason.

halo said...

Im not to good with it either Babe, I cant imagine how anyone could be really.

Grant said...

People usually try to say something because the moment is awkward for them, which makes what they say an attempt to console themselves rather than the person who needs it. I think the best you can do is offer your condolences and let them know you're there if they need you because nothing you can say will lessen the pain they are feeling. If you do discover such words, you'll make millions by selling them to Hallmark.

Leesa said...

kathi: finding joy in death; hmmmm.

"At least Aunt Flo won't have to diet now."

"Guess Uncle Fred outsmarted his creditors."

Best line is from City Slickers:

Cookie: Lord, we give you Curly. Try not to piss him off.
Mitch: That's it?
Cookie: What else is there? I got chicken burning.

I guess we all have chicken burning at some time.

sheen and annonomous: me, too.

billofbrothers: not sure that the griefing want to be heard all of the time. Sometimes they want to be left alone.

joe: yeah, I understand.

prata: and once you die, you don't have to pay taxes anymore.

mike: I don't like going to visitation because there is usually a cash bar. Oh, that was my holiday party.

muse: thanks, babes.

grant: wise words. They need to know you are there, and they also need a casserole.

Natalia said...

I have thought about death recently because I was feeling horribly. And I was thinking "what if this is it?" And surely I don't want to go. I am attached to my life here on earth with a human body and I really like my life and where it is and where it's going.

Sometimes the thought of death is scary. Well, actually what is scary is the thought of illness and knowing one will die.

But also, I believe in reincarnation. So the end of this life will be the beginning of a new one.


~Deb said...

Death is awkward period. I mean, I don’t even know—God forbid---when one of my family members passes on, how I would handle it.

Saying, “Sorry for your loss” to me—is just a way to comfort someone. But I’m not even sure if that’s the proper thing to say. I am so bad with things like that myself.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone has a tinge of fear of dying, but some people will insist that their religion brings them back to a safe haven. I do agree to some extent, but there is still that ‘unknown factor’ that lurks within us all.

Even though my faith remains in God, I still have that fear myself. It’s human nature.

Jay said...

do u have yahoo id

ShyRocket said...

This was a great post... I have observed the same lately... seems to be a little more death being written about these days.

Little if anything in the world prepares people for the experience of grief from death.

I often use the following parable for people going through a tough time due to a death... I dont know the author. Feel free to use. It's a bit heavy and I dont rush to use it... usually send it long after the fact with a "thinking of you" attached.


I stand upon the seashore. A ship spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and heads out across the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand to watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud on the horizon, just where the sea and sky meet to mingle with each other. At my side someone says, "There, she is gone."

Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all. She is just as large in mast and spar and hull as when she sailed close by, and just as able to bare her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in my vision alone. At that moment when someone at my side says, "There, she is gone," other eyes watch her coming -- and other voices take up the glad shout... "There, here she comes!"

And that is dying.


mal said...

my family celebrates our funerals. Some where along the way we developed the attitude that death is a part of life and we should appreciate a task that is done.

Mom passed a bit over a year ago. The memorial service had some tears but they were out weighed by the laughter and the stories. The OH was surprised at the contrast to his Moms funeral earlier in the year.

I hope when my time comes that the OH, our daughters and friends will smile, tell stories and share some laughter

Edtime Stories said...

I have had death visit me in several ways, the most stunning and painful was my first fiance being murdered. There are no words that one can say to take away the grief, there are no ways that interact that are universe. We all grieve in our own way and will always grieve in our own way. I remeber older people telling me how sorry they were because we never had a life together, my thought was how could you live with someone for 25 or 50 years and then they just not be there. Or my grief couldn't match the grief of losing a child. And murder is different from and accident or suicide.
We have mystified and sanitized death in the last few generations. But my wish is to all that have lost someone is that they give them eternal life by telling their stories. And may their memory always be a blessing.

Kalani said...

I worked in a hospital and witnessed death on a daily basis. I agree with what Joe said... I don't feel so bad for those who have passed on just the ones who have been left behind. I have worked on babies all the way to the very very elderly and no matter what the age or who it is I find the best thing to do is to let those left behind know you are there if they need anything and to touch them in some form or fashion. Sometimes it would only be a squeeze of a hand sometimes an unrelenting hug. Take your que from them and what you feel comfortable with.

Leesa said...

natilie: I hope things get better for you; we have different views, but both have positive thoughts about the after life.

~deb: thanks. It is somehow conforting to know someone so faithful still may fear death.

j: yahoo ID? what is that?

shyrocket: are you a rocket scientist? Though just occured to me. Thanks for your comments.

mallory: you are truly blessed.

ed: thanks for your thoughtful comments; sorry for your loss.

kalani: bless you for your service. I could never work in a hospital.

Prata said...

Why is it that people place so much more emphasis on the death of a child or a young one than they do on the death of an elderly person?

Further, why are people afraid of dying in the first place? Maybe because you don't know what is going to happen to you, but the faithful claim to already know what is going to happen to them (at least they say that in other places but when it comes to death suddenly it is different) so there should be no fear; right? But even the faithful have fear of death. That's odd to me.

I know lots of buddhists that are afraid to die, but that's not a faith based thing so I would assume that's natural.

As a aside, why should we mourn a natural process? Why should we fear it? It seems counter (although quite common of man) to the natural process of things. I wonder if "lower" animals fear death. Hrm.

Edge said...

I have 3 genetic relatives left alive. Two are in their 70's and may die suddenly and unexpectedly.

I too have been fixating on death a lot lately, so much so I made a list of funeral songs.

We mourn because we are sad to loose someone. Sadder if they didn't make that important decision before they went. I look forward to seeing my realtives on the other side.


Bruce said...

I lost my father in '78, when I was 26, then my mother passed away in May, 2004. Both deaths were unexpected, so my brother, sister, and I had no time to prepare. To this day, I regret not telling them I loved them more often than I did...

Leesa said...

prata: so if you were swimming in a lake and you got tired, why not stop swimming and drown? Just another experience. I think we are "hard wired" for survival. Part of our and lower animals make-up.

jef: wow, only three genetic relatives. I think we all should take a moment and review important decisions now. I just put it on my day planner. Who knows when that bus with our name on it will come screeching around the corner.

bruce: so sorry. Sometimes preparation can ease the mind, the soul.

Prata said...

Well, being tired and giving in to death are not the same thing. Just because the end result would be equal does not mean that the path to getting there is inevitable. Any animal that can no longer (including a human) continue on, using your example of swimming, will simply stop and die. If the animal is capable of continuing it will, once there is no more energy to do anything but to sink that is what happens.

Again though, fear and survival are not the same thing. Fear is an emotional reaction which may be used by the survival instinct to drive someone to continue on; however, survival is not driven by fear. Survival is not an emotional trait, IMHO. Just as I do not fear death, I do feel a need to stay alive, fear of the unknown is not what keeps me wanting to be here though.

Georgiapeach said...

Just leaving comments on the ones I didn't read...of course I read them the day
This was a good post. I feel the same way when someone tells me about a death. I don't even want to talk about it now...nor think about it.