There is one aspect of being human that is something we try to avoid talking about and simply ‘dance around’. It is the fact and reality that we all will die sooner or later. This is something that most of us simply do not want to talk about. Talking about death makes many uneasy. Talking about death makes us realize how fragile being human actually is, and being human has an expiration date. There is no getting around that fact. As a result, we often simply do not want to even say the words dying, terminal, and death.
Death makes us play a waiting game that none of us want to sign up for. A waiting game that is not at all fun. A waiting game that finds us deep in emotional turmoil. A waiting game that may bring strong emotions of anger, anxiety, denial, fear, or sadness. A waiting game that brings tears that fall from our eyes with little advanced warning and at the worst possible timing.
So we wait.
The waiting is painful. It becomes a nightmare in its own right. We wait to see what will happen to those we care about when they get seriously sick or injured. We wait by phones. We wait in beds unable to fall asleep. We wait by hospital beds. We wait at pharmacies. We wait on doctor’s updates. We wait, and we wait some more. We wait with coffee or whatever beverage will give us some energy and a little sanity. We wait to tell family and friends the good news or the bad news. Trying to form the words in our minds of how to say it right or perhaps say it at all. To break the news no matter how hard it may be. We’re adults right? We should know how to handle death right?
Those of us who have some form of religion often seek that when it comes to death and the terminally sick and injured. Those of us who don’t believe in religion find other ways of getting by when death is at our doorsteps.
We try to be good friends and family members to those who are grieving the loss of someone they care about. However, we often find ourselves not knowing what to say. Our minds go blank. Our words often seem so inadequate that we wonder why we even bother trying at all. Is it the thought that truly counts? When it comes to death, it often seems like nothing we say or do will ever be good enough.
The cause of death makes it even harder. If a person commits suicide, it often leaves those they leave behind struggling to talk about their death. They struggle to understand why it happened. Many often blame themselves and wish they had done or said more. It makes them feel like they failed the person who committed suicide no matter how much they try not to. Many sink into depression themselves and some will even also commit suicide in their grief and emotional turmoil.
If death comes after a serious illness or disease, many will find some sort of ‘relief’ thinking that at least their loved one is no longer in pain. However, that too is an emotional roller coaster because life is not fair. Life should include that beloved person too. One who was so happy and so full of life. One who was so needed in this life, this present, this family. Not some future hope of seeing them again for those who believe in religion, but right here and right now.
We dance with death. Each day we dance with death and slowly we age. Slowly we get one minute closer to our own death. What will people say when we are gone? Will they miss us? Will a small part of what made their life beautiful never be fully filled because we were part of that beauty? Or will they slowly forget about us and move on?
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© Kristalin Davis’ Musings on the Human Condition, 2017.