This is a tough topic. It shouldn’t be because it’s something we will all achieve eventually. It’s the last thing that most of us will do in this lifetime although some do it a couple of times, usually thanks to modern medicine. I’m talking about death and grief. If this is a sensitive subject at this time for you, it’s probably best not to read further just now. This is just my view, at this stage in my life. I know some people will worry that I’m struggling in some way, but no I just feel this is a topic with a taboo that we need to re-assess. It shouldn’t be something to fear.
This ramble was triggered by a Face Book friend who has just written that she had to say goodbye to her dog after an emergency trip to the vets. It’s such a time of sadness, when you loose a fur baby and friends gather around offering support and condolences, but I have a very different view that could be difficult for some folk to comprehend.
I’ve never feared death. It’s a part of the experience of living. None of us can escape it. It’s the unknown that often scares us and the fear that many of us experience is mainly due to centuries of religious fear of going to Hell if you are bad. And let’s be honest, we are all ‘bad’ at times. It’s part of being human. I bet there is not one person reading this who has not stolen something – even if it’s just a paperclip from the office or ten minutes of someone’s time when they were in a hurry. In this scenario, Hell must be a busy place!
When someone I know passes, of course there is sadness and grief, but for me it is also a time of celebration. This person (including fur babies) was in my life for a reason and my life is so much richer for having known that person, and hopefully that person gained much for having me in their life for a time too.
It is so easy to get caught up in the sorrow of someone passing. You may disagree or want to argue with me, but I see that sorrow as also a little selfish. Don’t, please, get me wrong, I also don’t see ‘selfish’ as a bad emotion although it can be. The sorrow is because that person is no longer there. You cannot interact with them anymore. They are missing in your life. They have left a hole that is going to be difficult to fill.
In our sorrow, we often forget the good times we shared with that person. At least for a while. For me this is the crux of grieving, the ultimate thing to be sad about – we forget for a time how much richer we are for having known that person.
When someone passes we all offer sympathy: “So sorry for your loss.” “My condolences.” We just don’t know what to say to bring comfort and that brings a level of awkwardness and sometimes friends just drop away when they are needed most, simply because they don’t know how to help.
For me, the way to help is to remember the good times. The Joy and Laughter you shared together. The giggles and the mischief, the times you sat into the middle of the night discussing world affairs, the hugs. Remember the funny quirks that you teased him or her about, the things he or she taught you. Remember and be thankful for the Love you shared, but most of all, don’t focus on the sadness. It isn’t disrespectful to giggle at a funeral when you are remembering with Love.
When my first husband passed 20 years ago, I wanted to hold an old-fashioned wake. Not one where everyone stands around, dressed in black with serious expressions on their faces, and softly spoken words. I wanted a good old knees-up, a remember with Joy And Laughter PARTY! I wanted ‘funniest thing I can remember about Ian’ games. I wanted kids to have ‘run like Uncle Ian’ races (he had a very strange way of running). I had a shed full of car maintenance tools I’d never use and didn’t even know the names of, so I wanted a Grab a Gift from Ian for all the guys into motor racing or car repairs. I wanted a Moody Blues sing-along. I wanted to make his life, and the impact it had had on each person there REAL. I had heaps of practical support from many wonderful people, but people are so conditioned to celebrating the sadness; the absence of the person that they just couldn’t cope with my need to celebrate the good and the funny quirks that made Ian who he was.
What all this rambling is ultimately saying is yes, the time that someone transitions is sad, but don’t let the sadness overpower the richer memories. The Joy and the Laughter. You walked with that person, or fur baby, for a reason and when they leave your life, let the memories be the good ones.
I’m not old, but I am older and occasionally thoughts of my mortality cross my mind (no, I’m not being morbid so, my loved ones reading this, no need to worry). I see my eventual time of transition as my greatest adventure, I get to see, to Know, what comes next! I am honoured that I got to walk next to you for a while. Maybe I’ll get chance, like Billy Fingers, to pop back and say Hi!