Last week, I saw that Ian lost someone who touched his life. That got me to thinking about a post I wrote one day while swimming in the pool. I love to swim, and I think of all sorts of things while working out. It was in mid-December, and the subject happened to be death. Unfortunately, I can't swim and write, and when I got toweled off and showered, the inspiration for the post sort of went away. Post lost, until I read what Ian had to say, and it reminded me of that swim.
I was thinking, as I was swimming, about an interaction I had with a neighbor. She was really distraught because he older sister had died. I have known this woman for years, and she is tough. Really tough. But she was completely broken up over her sibling's death. And it got me to thinking, in general terms, what relationship death is the hardest on someone's emotions.
Disclaimer: Before I get anyone saying that I don't know what the hell I am talking about, I will beat you to the punch. I don't know much about death, personally, but I observe people. And I am not saying that someone can't be destroyed by the loss of a cousin or their dental hygienist, while not blinking an eye over the loss of their spouse. I am making general statements – death can be painful, and I am not trying to diminish anyone's pain. This is more of an intellectual exercise. So, bitch at me if you think I am a cold hearted whore. Er, that was a little over the top. On second thought, don't bitch at me.
This is the easy one. This has to be the most horrible thing to experience. Well, I am sure someone can come up with worse things, but to lose a child. 'Nuff said.
This one really has surprised me. I have talked with many people who have lost loved ones over the year, and it surprises me that many people hit hardest have lost siblings. I guess it is a bit surprising because from my experience, it does not matter whether siblings were terribly close or not. Universally, everyone I have known who has lost a sibling – older, younger, living close by and far away – seems crushed.
Extremely strong people . . . crushed.
Perhaps as we grow up, we have our lives interweaved with our siblings and when they die, a part of our childhood dies as well. Or it could be that we face our own mortality with a siblings death. Since I have not experienced this, I am not sure what would be going on in someone's head. And I am too chicken to ask.
It surprised me to place siblings above spouses, but that has been my experience in looking at others. Perhaps if you don't really like your spouse, this may move down the list. And I am not sure if time plays any real factor in this. I mean, during WWII, a lot of women were marrying right before their husbands were going overseas. At least, that's what the movies show. Is losing such a spouse you have known briefly in a war when so many others have lost husbands any easier? I don't know. And if you are 95, and have lost your spouse of 75 years, are you crushed or do you feel lucky for having twenty (forty?) more years than the average married couple? I am not sure lucky is something people feel after the death of a loved one. I remember reading about someone who lost her grandmother and the grandmother was 111. Oldest woman in the state and among the oldest women ever. And everyone was extremely sad for having a grandmother 30 years longer than most of us. So age may not be much of a factor either.
Losing parents can be extremely hard, I am sure, but I have placed three groups above them. And I have done this precisely because that has been my experience in dealing with grieving friends. I have helped a few friends though losing parents, and it seems that this sadness lasts for a few years. I read somewhere that it takes about two years to grieve for a loved one that is close to you. Not sure how the psychologists and scientists came up with that one. It's not like you can place a rat in a maze and get your answer.
When you lose your parents, you lose people who cared for you, who taught you about love, trust, and so many other things. And they are partly – perhaps mostly – responsible for your childhood memories; if they are predominantly good or bad.
Most of the people reading this have lost a grandparent I would imagine. Well, I imagine this because most of my audience is a more experienced crowd. I remember losing my first grandparent, and I was sad, but not crushed. I mean, I cried, and I was sad for a while, but I was not crushed. Actually, I wanted to be sadder than I was. Strange, I know, but she lived a full life and . . . I was okay with her dying.
I remember losing a pet when I was young, and it was really hard on the family. I saw my mom cry for a couple of days, and I felt so sad and empty. When a fish dies, I don't expect the same reaction, but I am not really that emotionally attached to most fish. And I am purposefully placing this way up in the list.
Aunts, Uncles, Cousins
I place animals above people, bad Catholic girl that I am. It is not that I place these lives under the lives of Mr. Snugglepus, but it is that I have seen the impact of pet deaths on my friends. And they seem to hit harder than rationally they should.
Okay, I really don't know about this one. I have not had anyone come up to me and say, "My on-the-side guy died last week, and I am crushed." I am just hoping that we place lovers, present and past below Aunt Mary and Grouch the Oscar that eats mice.
A mental exercise, that is all.