Death keeps coming closer, and I’m finding it hard to maintain my sense of detachment.
I don’t like death, for all that it’s an inevitable consequence of living, for all that we’re dying from the moment we arrive here on earth. For all I keep it in reserve as an escape option.
We’re marked for death from the moment we arrive; we’re mortal, after all. Coming to terms with that, accepting and living the truth of our mortality is difficult; I talk the good talk, but the reality of death is hard to deal with. [i]
Even so, I wouldn’t condemn anyone to eternal life. It’s the finite nature of existence that makes moments precious.
But I’m tired of people going. I am sick of learning another one has bitten the dust. My parents’ friends are departing this mortal coil at an increasing pace, and I don’t like it. Philosophical acceptance is easier in the abstract.
One of the last of my father’s friends died last night. Dad’s circle has shrunk to almost non-existent. It’s a scary thing to realize your father is standing alone. It hurts my heart to witness his despondence.
Robert went in his sleep, no long illness, no prolonged period of distress. May we all be so blessed.
Death is easier on the ones who’ve gone – they’ve simply shucked this mortal coil: those of us left have to experience the loss and their absence.
I’m trying to be stoic about it, in both little and big “s” ways.
Seneca makes a good point: “Has it then all been for nothing that you have had such a friend? During so many years, amid such close associations, after such intimate communion of personal interests, has nothing been accomplished? Do you bury friendship along with a friend? And why lament having lost him if it is of no avail to have possessed him? Believe me, a great part of those we have loved, though chance has removed their persons, still abides with us. The past is ours, and there is nothing more secure for us than that which has been.”
Death is natural. We can mourn those we’ve lost without crying about the unjustness of fate. Death comes for us all, sooner or later. It is part of life we must accept.
These are good thoughts, logical and full of truth. I want to accept them wholeheartedly, and for myself, I do. I think death becomes less scary when you’ve been close. However, when I try and extend philosophical equanimity to others, I struggle.
My parents are older now, beyond the average age for life. They’ve both lived longer than their respective parents. I try to remember that every day they’re here is a gift. Even when they annoy me. Especially when they annoy me.
I’m grateful I’ve not had to do what so many other friends have done – bury a parent.
But I’m aware that death is stalking them. It’s circling them, drawing closer, and that terrifies me because nothing can be done. I can’t halt the passage of time; I can’t stop death from coming to pass.
I’m trying to prepare myself for an inevitable loss. But, I don’t like it. My efforts in the specific and personal, as opposed to the general, lack grace. I wish wholeheartedly, despite it being contrary to my philosophy, that my parents would carry on forever, so I would never face a world without them.
Have you had much personal experience with death?
Have you lost immediate family members?
What helped you most?
[i] Other people’s deaths.