Saturday, October 11, 2014

Dealing with death

My family is dealing with a heartbreaking tragedy. One of my cousin's died last week. He had a heart attach while riding his bike. He was 43.

It is still surreal, even though a week has passed, and the services are over. I am not sure what to say about it. My aunt and uncle have to endure a loss that no one parent should ever experience.

When someone dies, those directly affected by it will continue to suffer and mourn the loss of someone they love. After the services my aunt and uncle had to go home. Now they have to live without conversations and phone calls. They are directly and forever more affected by his loss.

I watched my family members at the wake, as we all made small talk, battling our internal struggle with death. For most of us life just goes on. That is the uncomfortable truth in death. Others carry on without us. It is that simple. I was at work the day after I got the news, trying to make sense of what had happened. That night I said to my husband, "you know after I die, someone will go to work the next day. That seems strange to me." We think, when we die, that life stops, and it does not.

When we returned from the wake we were trying to make some last minute decisions about paint colors. I got upset. It did not seem fair to me that we were picking out paint colors knowing that my cousin was being buried the next day. That is what life is. Going on even after people die. Obviously certain losses stop us in our tracks. My aunt and uncle will not just go on.

In 2003 I lost my best friend. It was the most heartbreaking loss I had endured. As bad as I always felt, I knew her parents and sister felt worse. It has been almost 12 years since that time. I think about her every day, and sometimes it does catch up to me, but I have processed that grief. For many years I struggled with her loss. Anything that reminded me about her would break my heart in pieces. Rites of passage like getting married and having children made me feel guilty, but I knew I had to do these things.

The funeral for my cousin was done at the funeral home by a family member that is also a priest. He is a gifted and talented speaker, and possesses a great faith in God. Yet, though his faith is evident, his down to earth way of speaking reaches the whole room. He has done many family weddings and funerals, and always finds words to lighten the burden. He spoke, through his own tears, about how hard it is to rationalize death, because essentially we can't. We are born and we die, and there is no control. It is out of our hands.

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