Thursday, February 12, 2009

No. 8

RULES: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs (+) on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

I have thoughts on death.

When a member of your family, or another person otherwise loved, dies, the hardest part in overcoming grief is recognising to what extent their existence had an effect in your life. It is understandable how a person may be overcome by the death of a parent as theirs was a relationship of dependence, naturally. It can exhibit itself in questioning ones adequacy at life:
“How do I go on without my [recently deceased parent]?
A person can feel helpless without the guidance of an elder, a person to whom to turn when a financial/relationship/occupational problems, or otherwise, occurs in a young life not usually frequented by such issues. When that aide dies, or when that particular relationship becomes untenable, it can cause a type of trauma from which some don't recover. It can haunt.

I may consider issues of death with more levity and distance than others as I have dealt with it on and off my entire life, helping my father in the funeral business. Just as context, I have no problems with dead bodies, or with the idea of dying. I may have existential hang-ups with the notion of a finite existence occurring for a small, arbitrarily allotted span, or so it seems, along a time-line whose size may be, in it's entirety, too substantial to accurately contemplate. But that idea doesn't impact the loss one can feel on a personal, gut level when someone they are close to dies, which is the focus of this short piece.

I believe this grief can be overcome, if not easily, at least without extended mourning. Death itself is a natural part of life, the idea of which can be grappled and fought with, becoming a companion of sorts. It can be intellectually reasoned with. But that doesn't in itself overcome the emotional edge in knowing there will be a full stop, no returns, to your loved ones lives.
So, after some consideration, I have come to think of grief as a mechanism in dealing with the empty space left in ones life after someone they are close to dies. It's that space, unwashed clothes or favourite recipes lost, which reminds those who have lost of their loss. I am not suggesting that when a persons mother dies, they should fill that emptiness with routine excursions to the cinema or in a fantasy football league. That space should be filled with, only initially perhaps, little moments that remind of the special times, routines replicated or favourite songs hummed. The memory of the lost can be honoured then, remembered fondly, until one is ready to say goodbye. It is to ease the transition.
A loved one shouldn't necessarily be replaced glibly in ones life, but I feel a function of life is to move on. Remember them fondly and recognise you have not just lost a person contained in meat, but certain conversations, amusing tics, sounds and smells. So on. Honour that then by living fully.

Of course, if you hated the dead motherfucker, then the above nonsense is no good to you.

Anyway, as an aside, I think the most difficult thing is not the dying exactly, but making ones way the end with a death neither horrifically painful nor humorous.
I'm talking about the type of death which ends up as a twenty word piece spread around the world's newspapers.
"John Smith, 65, Nowhere, died yesterday after being stuck straight the fuck through by a urine icicle. A plane dumped the contents of it's latrine which froze at the high altitudes, forming a spear. He will be sadly missed."
"That's funny", I say. "He died funny."

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