Time for another True Confession. And this one will seem so loony that I can only laugh while I tremble to admit it.
Loony because it’s so dang obvious. So seemingly innocuous.
Death is normal.
Yup, that’s a statement I often find impossible to spit out. The problem is context, which I will explain.
As a concept, it’s fine. Not many argue about the inevitability of death. Where it becomes anxiety-ridden is in the application to a specific person. Who in God’s name would say that on the occasion of someone dying?
And I am sure as sure not suggesting anyone start doing that. Yet it troubles me that this fact seems to vanish from the scene in all cases but someone dying peacefully in their sleep at an advanced age.
It would be so delightful to go hog wild philosophical or psychological on this, but I’ll leave it at what I perceive to the core issue: We don’t want death to be normal.
With all our might, we want to keep the people we love alive. Even more than we want control over our health, our jobs, our relationships, finances, _______ (insert every single aspect of our lives here). We just can’t stand it! We won’t have it, we refuse to accept it, we make it wrong and we will not buy it.
I suspect that this can’t be untangled from facing our own mortality, but that’s a whole other can of mental worms.
And another layer of this is the need for grieving and mourning. Seeing loss as a practical matter of fact is denying that we’re emotional beings; it’s as astray as death denial in the first place.
So I remain, at least for now, unsure how to work this disagreeable notion into the death-acceptance and better-goodbyes conversation. Even I, the champion of putting death talk out in the open, planning ahead, and coming from gratitude over grief, have no real clue how to use this reality as a balm rather than torment.
As I so frequently say… honoring the deep and real emotions of loss is never to be taken lightly. But if only… if only… we could also accept more, and fight less, that death, no matter how horrid the circumstances, is a part of the normal and natural goings-on of Life on Planet Earth, perhaps we’d more quickly or easily find peace.
Not so hard to say in a run-of-the-mill blog post. Almost torture to say at a time when it’s actually relevant.