of a very special friend of mine died yesterday. He’d been waging battle with cancer for a couple of years. He was at home, with his wife and two daughters. And they too were with him.
My friend is in another state, so I can’t touch her, clean her house, cook for her. I will try to go to whatever service they may have for him but that seems like a paltry gesture.
In truth, if I was in her presence, I’m not sure I’d know what to do anyway. Cleaning and cooking I could undertake. Touching her, hugging her, would be natural. Otherwise I feel paralyzed. Death does that to me. My arms and hands tremble even now, as I type.
It’s not that I’ve had a lot of traumatic experience with death, or none at all. My own dad died several years ago, but I’d not seen him in over 10 years and hadn’t really known him ever. My grandparents have all passed away. While I did know them, they were emotionally distant and I was one of the youngest grandchildren in large extended families. I’ve had former special education students die far too young and that was hardest of all. Death isn’t a stranger, but nor does it haunt me.
It’s not that I’m even particularly fearful of my own death, or un-accepting of it’s inevitability. I see it as part of a cycle, not an end. What may lie beyond death is an interesting philosophical question, not a dreaded one.
Maybe it’s the emotion of loss. Loss has always been hard for me. Goodbyes, even the most mundane ones, can be overwhelming. So maybe it’s being inside that uncontrollable grief with another person that is so dang hard for me.
There is nothing to be said. There are no solutions, no upsides to be explored. There is grief and being willing to be in that dark heavy soup with the other person. I don’t scare easily. I’ve been in plenty of dark corners of other people’s lives and minds, and have been able to maintain my own sense of balance and optimism. But being in loss, with someone else, scares me.
Good to know. Easier to face the fear when I can name it.
Thanks for listening dear stranger-friends.