Sooner or later, everyone will. Everyone deals with it differently. Every death is a learning experience, an emotional one, but one that can make you so much stronger. Sometimes, you hear about deaths that don't concern you on a personal level and we pay no heed to these. Until the moment that you get informed that someone you know was involved. In the blink of an eye, it becomes an experience.
I wanted to say God works in mysterious ways, but perhaps it is more apt to say the creator works in mysterious ways. Right from a very young age we are exposed to death.
While we are kids, if we are lucky, we get to see death take away our grandparents and great grandparents. If we are unlucky, parents leave, uncles and aunts, cousins.
A little older and we see parents leaving, either ours or our friends'. Uncles and Aunts that we are fond of. Relatives from far off places (the ones you wouldn't be told about if you were younger).
Once we're adults, we have more parents leaving, in laws, acquaintances, co-workers taken away too early.
Once we're parents, the morbid fear of losing your children, the intense pain of hearing about other children and instantly checking on your own, the realization that our parents aren't going to be around forever, the understanding that if we are fortunate to still have our grandparents, it's only a matter of time.
Once we're over a certain age (this is relative), it's acceptance and the wait for the inevitable either for our loved ones or ourselves.
If we break up the ages when we deal with death, it would roughly come out as follows:
Below Teens : Too young to understand, too young to worry about it, listen to what's being told to you, accept it because you're too small to do anything else and somehow move on. The younger you are the easier it is to move on
Teenage Years: Old enough to understand, not wise enough to react well. Most teenagers will try to hide their emotions and try and be cool and show that they are taking it in their stride. In my opinion, this age group is the worst affected by death. They need to be spoken to but aren't ready to ask for help. They need to grieve but don't want to show emotions as it would portray them as weak.
20's to 30's: We're beginning to come to terms with the fact that death is a permanent fixture of life. (If no one has ever said this before, I'm staking claim to this as a wise man once said kind of line)
Young adults do unbelievably well in handling death. They have just the right amount of emotion showing through along with just enough wisdom to speak only when required and use non verbal communication most effectively (a nod of the head, a blink of the eyes)
40-60: The phase when you have seen enough death to not have to deal with the emotional component. You now become a facilitator in all that has to be done post death. You know its coming for you, you pray it staves off from the younger family members, you readjust your faith.
60+: You count away the people you know, with each one bringing you closer to your own time. There is no more fear, only the motivation to make the best of the rest of your time. If you are lucky, you have loving family around you helping you with everything you want to do and to achieve what you've wanted but missed out on because you were too busy before.
80+: You start to crave death while you still can. No one wants to go as a dependant. Everyone wants to go while they can still take care of themselves, while they are not a burden (or so they think). A dignified death is top priority. No trouble for the rest of the living. Peaceful death is a bonus.
What we are told about death while we are too young to understand, in my personal opinion, does not have any bearing on how we will deal with death later on. Once we are exposed to death, the education begins. With each death that we are a part of, we grow to understand how to behave, what to say, what not to say, when to smile, when to be blank, what to offer and how to offer it, how to support and how to accept support. Each death makes us wiser.
Every death that involves you personally would make the next one just a little bit easier to deal with. This is nature's way of preparing you for the inevitable death of your loved ones. A little pain at regular intervals dulls the final blow.
Over the years, I've lost many people I've cared about.
My grandparents when I was very young. I didn't understand much then but reflecting on those times now, I guess I did.
My friends' parents/grandparents. At first, I didn't know what to say, what to do. I would stand there and just be! With each passing, I learned. Now, I am able to offer a sentence or two in condolences.
My uncles and friends. I could offer support to their families. I could be there for them to talk to.
My relatives and cousins. I could feel the pain that was not there with non relatives. It is different. You react differently to each death.You learn.
Death is inevitable. I know that now. I am still not ready for my parents to leave but I know I must be. There is no way to calculate how much time is left. There is, however, time to calculate how much we can enjoy each other. There is enough and more time to repair old hurts, to renew old friendships, to review life and make a bucket list, to tick things off for others.
Each generation should teach the next one about dealing with death. It would make the world a better place. I'm hoping somewhere in the future, my children read this post and understand why I never protect them from painful situations. If someone dies, they will be told they are dead. No fairy tale stories about heaven and better places and long sleeps. They will come to terms with it and be stronger for it in the future.
No pictures on this blog, no humour. Just feelings!