After talking with a few friends who are having a hard time with recent deaths of those very close to them, they’re having a hard time having never experienced loss before or perhaps dealing with death; the older we become it seems to get harder because of the realization of our own mortality. They are in there mid thirties to mid forties, so I was surprised; I just kept thinking how lucky they were to have been spared for so long. But of course knew how insensitive that was to think.
I started to think of my own life and those that have died around me. The first death I experienced was the death of my friend/neighbors mom when we were 7 or 8. I knew it was sad, I knew she was “gone” but did not really understand what happened or the loss to the family. I remember her brother who was 10 or 11 yelling at me and my brothers for going to their moms funeral saying that we just wanted to miss school. I didn’t understand why he got mad at us not until I was older. The next was not for almost 10 years later when my paternal grandfather died, I remember going to the hospital to say goodbye, I am glad my dad brought me. I remember how shallow and scary his breathing sounded; I remember crying but also trying to hide it. The worst was watching how that death affected my dad, he began drinking more after that, and maybe that’s why within a few months my mom left him.
The next death that impacted me was that of a friend who was beaten to death. The hardest part about that was that it was done by other mutual friends. Not being able to understand why. His funeral was hard because some of our friends ,who were friends with both were not allowed to go; I was friends with both but not close to either at that time. It was hard because it wasn’t right, no one deserves to be murdered and no one expects others to take one’s life so carelessly. It really opened my eyes to the brutality of life. After this I was in my early 20’s and quite a few friends and acquaintances in the years that followed had died or been killed or overdosed. It almost started to be ‘normal’. No, just easier to accept I guess. Then 2 friends from high school died, we were not close anymore it had been almost 10 years since high school but it was hard to understand and handle none the less. One was killed by a drunk driver leaving behind 3 kids, and just having had my 1st child being pregnant with my 2nd it literally shattered my heart to think of their loss as well as her for not being able to see her kids grow up. The other friend took his own life, battling a terrible depression that none were even aware of. The amount of death at my minds door at the ripe age of 30 was astounding. But nothing prepared me for the next year, the year I turned 31. I gave birth to and then lost my 3rd child when she was 2 months old, 2 months later my maternal grandmother passed and 2 weeks previous my paternal grandmother passed. All the deaths were overwhelming. I felt surrounded, I was in shock for most of that 1st year, as I sit and type I realize the fog lifted shortly after a year but I think I hurt more because I started to feel more, the shock being gone there was more room to think as well as feel. I felt not only grief and loss but guilt and longing were added. Then I thought about all those lost before and felt just so overwhelmingly sad and mad at the world. How do we live “happily” when so many are not given that chance? How can we accept death when it is so unexpected most of the time? How do we live with the intention of putting love first when some of us are lucky enough to not experience hard losses and therefore live to maturity and grow wealth or some that disregard life and kill the earth or our environment due to lack of empathy. I believe death teaches us empathy, to care more for what is important. I hate death and the things it has taken from me but it has given me appreciation for things like a 100 year old tree, spring flowers, a hug, a kiss, a smile. Things money cannot buy.
At times when I see others pain in coping with death and loss I wish I could take it or make it go away, but I also know that it is part of accepting the reality of life and death in having to accept others passing and how it makes us feel.
So as I enter the later years of my life where I am watching my friends deal with the loss of their parents, I know that there is so much more death around the corner as I get older, I just am not sure how to prepare my heart for the pain that I already feel brought on just by the thought of loss and not yet the actual death. I think I’ll have to go hug a tree, cry and hope I will have the strength to let go as I already have.
Thanks for Reading,