Saturday, October 8, 2011

on death

I think people's fascination with death is strange.  Growing up we were taught that death and the pain we experience was private.  We cried and we prayed and lit candles and baked casseroles and prayed and dressed up and went to wakes and funerals and prayed and endured the burn of incense on our nose hairs and sang 'On Eagle's Wings' and said good-bye and we'd go home and life went on.
We didn't dwell or put up pictures or post memorials on walls.  In a way we had to come to terms with our loss in our own time and place, and allow others to do the same.  I was taught that my mourning was mine and that how I mourn could effect other people.  That the pain I feel for the person who is gone is no greater than I can handle.
I remember in high school a friend passed and all my friends were upset and crying in the halls and holding each other.  Their bodies convulsed and they dropped to their knees and they expressed great pain.  And I watched fascinated like an anthropologist because it was strange their outward display of grief.  I couldn't bring myself to be so easy with my pain.   I must of seemed callous with my emotion-less reaction.  But I was sad, beyond sad, to me it was too much to convulse and drop to my knees and express great pain.  I went home, locked myself in my room and cried and my family silently supported me in small acts of kindness.
And still to this day I see people react to death and I think 'how strange'.
Maybe it's because I have not seen great personal loss. Maybe I have yet to experience that pain that brings you to your knees over a loved one.  This thought scares me.
I know if I were to die I would want none of the convulsing and the dropping of knees.  I would want people to pray and light candles and bake casseroles and pray and get dressed up and go to my wake and my funeral and have their nose hair burned by the incense and sing 'On Eagle's Wings' and say good-bye and go home and have life go on.  Because that is all they can do.  They have to live.

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