I spent Saturday morning at a memorial service – my second in less than a month. If you ask me, that’s two too many. I realize that nobody asked me, but it’s my blog, and I’m talking about it anyway (which is HUGE. In many circles, Death is a bigger taboo than sex).
People have different ideas about why we’re here. Some say we come out of dust, and to dust we return. Some say we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. I believe that we are here to learn something. It could be patience, it could be love, or it could be statistics and probabilities (ugh!). Once we’ve learned our lesson, it’s time for us to move on.
I refuse to learn, which means I’ll live forever.*
Here’s what I’ve learned about death and other losses:
Life may be a bitch, but Loss is a nasty, low down, evil snake in the grass (no disrespect to snakes. I like them – they’re like legless lizards). She fights dirty.
Sometimes she carries a sledgehammer – and she will beat you with it until you are nothing but a quivering mass of jelly. The good news is that broken bones heal, scar tissue is stronger than unscarred tissue, and laying around on the ground gives you a good excuse to rest. Plus you can spend the “downtime” observing the cosmos and figuring out why you’re here (see above).
Sometimes she morphs into a pack of howling, snarling fears which chase you through the darkness, snapping at your heels, and nipping your fingers and toes. The good news is that feardogs, like nightmares and vampires, disappear at first light.
Sometimes she whispers to you through the grey haze of despair, leading you gently to the precipice and then poking at you with the sharp pointy stick of self-doubt until you jump. The good news is that it gets better. Tired and cliché, but true. Trust me. I’ve been there. I went through a series of losses (one after another) that left me sobbing on the floor of my car, certain that things would be better if I just gave up and quit.
As strange as it sounds, I owe Loss a debt of gratitude. It’s taken a long time, but I’ve learned from Loss. I’ve learned:
- to spend more time with loved ones, doing things that I want to do, rather than things that Need Doing. Life is too short to spend your time dusting.
- to ask for (and accept) help. Asking for help does not mean that you are weak. It means you are smart enough to know that you can’t do it all yourself, all the time, every day.
- the value of Mother’s Little Helpers. I’m not a huge fan of western medicine, but sometimes they get it right.
- that talking to a professional can help. No, not just any professional. I don’t think telling the bank teller about your dead mother is very helpful. Talking to a professional therapist is like taking a pill. They don’t help everyone, and they may not help right away, but there are good ones out there.
- that loss is a part of life, and that healing from any loss (whether the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a job) comes in stages
- that it gets better, even when it seems like it won’t. Trust me.
Or don’t. Trust these people instead:
*JK – I’ve managed to learn a few things (including what “jk” means – yes, I have a teen).
P.S. You people need to stop dying. I know that Neil Gaiman makes Death look like a seductive little goth girl
and that Brad Pitt’s Joe Black made death look tempting (hey, I’d die for him), but all these losses are making me cranky, and it’s all about me.
And for those of you who saw my blog title and were hoping to see a youtube video, here you go: