On Mortality 6/27/19

By Richard Bleil

As always, when I write it is for all of my readers, but today I have one individual in particular in mind. I hope that many people can draw something useful from this, but she is currently immersed in tragedy. Today she attended the funeral of a close family member, and it is looking like she will soon lose another that is closer still.

If she should read this (and I know that she will), I hope that it will help her out at least little bit. She is very important to me, but honestly as I sit here, I really have no idea what I intend to say. I just know that I’m worried about her.

My family has always had a very practical approach to death. When I was very young, somebody must have told me about it, and I was very frightened. When my mother talked to me about it, she said that there is nothing that I can do about it anyway, so why worry?

Well, we do worry. To the best of our knowledge, humans are the only species that is aware of our own mortality, although I’m not convinced. The way elephants behave around the skeletons of other elephants certainly seems as though they have an understanding that the skeleton was at least one of their own.

But the feeling of loss is probably not related to our own mortality very much if at all. The true struggle is the loss in our lives. We are social animals, and it is difficult to find people that fit well with us in our lives, even among our own relatives and family. When we do find those special people, they brighten our lives immensely. Our lives are brighter, warmer, and richer for them.

How can we not mourn the loss of people so close to us. Whether they’ve been in our lives for sixty days or sixty years, they’ve touched our hearts and very souls. When I was in college, I had a little crush on a young woman named Megan. She was sweet and had a gentle spirit that is so rare, and she touched me deeply even though we were never very close as friends. Needing to return to campus one day after graduation, I ran into a mutual friend who informed me that she had passed away unexpectedly. To this day my heart is still broken, and I regret having learned this. Chances are I never would have spoken with her again, but in my heart she would still be in my world if I didn’t hear. As it is, my world is a little bit darker and colder. But, even though she’s gone, I still speak with her from time to time.

I do speak with those from my life who have passed on from time to time. You, my dearest reader, may or may not believe that those who have departed can hear us, but it still helps. I’m on the fence about it. I honestly don’t know if they can hear us or not, but it’s nice to talk with them, and doing so helps to fill that void left in my heart with their passing.

These conversations can take on a variety of directions. I’ll reminisce with them, laugh with them, cry with them, and to tell you a dirty little secret, I do it with my pets (Bella and Sir Purrsalot) as well. I’ll often ask these two to help my mom, protect her and keep her company.

Many people turn to religion. I’ll speak with God, but I’ve never found solace in formal religion. Raised Methodist (one of the myriad of flavors of Christianity), I’ve kind of struggled with the concept of Heaven and Hell. I am not Hindu, but as I learn more about the concept of reincarnation giving the meaning of life to develop the soul, it just seems to fit my own personal sensibilities better. Honestly, I don’t know what happens after death. Regardless of ones personal beliefs, church can be a great comfort in times like this, although I think one of the major sources of relief is the aspect of community that comes with being an active member of a church.

Community is so important at times like this. It won’t feel like it to her, but I’m happy that my friend has such a fantastic community support network. With her family, and friends like me who love her dearly and do anything for her, I know she will be well taken care of. It may not help the pain since each individual is unique and as such irreplaceable, but the support will help shorten the time she needs to recover.

We need to watch out for each other, and take care of the ailing. Nobody should have to stand alone, and yet we all feel as if we do on occasion. Even if they need to be alone, make sure they know that they are never really alone. Your love, your concern, and your friendship is needed in times like this more than ever.

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