A horrible, soul-crushing week of violence and loss: three awful and shocking tragedies in Orlando, and then just this afternoon the killing of the UK lawmaker. So much death and sadness. Horror. Pain. No way to really take it all in.
Virtually all of these senseless and tragic public deaths this week were of young people. No one would have expected any of them to have voiced how they want their funeral to go.
But then, young people die everyday, both expected and unexpected, some horrific, some peaceful.
No one expects young people to contemplate their last wishes, in fact they are often chastised if they even refer to their death. No, stop… don’t talk like that… you have a long, wonderful life ahead of you!
Which is fine, but face it, it’s just a hope that they do. And statistics are on their side, but still.
Notice how we are allowed, encouraged even, to start envisioning our future lives with:
When I grow up I want to be a…
When I get married I want a dress that…
I’m going to name my kids…
I’m going to do this, that or the other thing… on and on
Yet none of that is guaranteed. N-O-N-E. To be that blunt is frowned upon. Big time. But I’m not saying it to dwell on depressing thoughts, but quite the contrary!
Accepting that we’re going to die should make it EASIER to talk about. We’re not there yet as a society, but I do hope we’re moving in that direction.
If we could just talk about our future lack of existence as a fact of life, we wouldn’t have to freak out whenever it’s mentioned.
This point really has nothing to do with the horror and violence of this week’s nightmares, particularly the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub.
But it just reminded me of how we primarily associate death with old age or sickness, and that doesn’t serve us. Young people dying is the worst. Yet dying remains inevitable and common to us all.
Not sure any of this has a cohesive point. I know I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed and at a loss for words. But I know that it’s making me more determined than ever to speak openly and often about death. Death of young people will always be devastating. But it’s not a reason to deny death’s place in our human experience. We should be brave enough to allow it a seat at the table, not just in tragedy, but on any otherwise normal day.