Saturday, 13 February 2010

The Incompetence of Death

Well the title is purposely designed to make you think. I am going to talk about death and the lack of discussion that surrounds death these days. I also want to bring home the ideas of why we try to ignore it and why we are so oblivious to other peoples needs.

First off, I found out this week that an Aunt to a friend of mine died this week. For many of us we have experienced this effect of losing a loved one whether family or friend. However, many people do not experience the affect of losing a close friend or family member until they are almost middle aged.

For those who lose someone early on in life and worse still that of a parent can be tough. I for one know this, losing mum at 15. Still young in life I was not quite set up and ready to enter the real world on my own and some friends left me to get on with it whilst others rallied round to make sure I didn't go off the rails and lose my mind. This I am much grateful for and those who were around at the time know how much that means. Or I hope they do at least.

When did society stop caring though, why does everyone attempt to hide the pain of what is going on in there life? Is this for professional integrity, should those in managerial roles that fall apart at losing someone be demanded to stay in focus...what does this do to the mental health of the person in the long term? What does this do for the managing our feelings. On the other hand, if they did not show any effect or feeling of loss, does this then make them a terrible person, a person with no care and attention?

Well I say yes, and this is slightly hypocritical of myself. In order to not lose complete order and just let everything fall to pieces we need composure and assurances. I attempt to keep working at what I'm doing, by keeping busy I do not allow the feelings of loss to become too over whelming and in doing so I also have a way of finding time to reflect on the past and the loss.

But, I have noticed over the years that the more we hide from death the sharper the pain can be for experiencing the loss again and again years after the death, and the pain is also sharper for ignoring death all together and then when it happens were expected to keep ourselves in focus even though we have lost someone that very day or week or month.

This is overly humiliating for the human society. We are no longer allowed to feel these things.

On being told that a friend has experienced a loss we should all acknowledge the loss and feel sympathetic. For those who say they have no feelings and just say "well OK get back to work asap" are they cold and inconsiderate? Most definitely. However, this is a two way street. Firstly, the person who is told of the death needs to have experienced some loss of there own, otherwise they cannot imagine what its like for the person who has to tell them. Secondly, if they have never experienced any loss at all, they are unlikely to know what to say or do... at that most people do not know what to say or do, they are unsure of what the right thing is to say or do when somebody comes to them and says, " A friend died last week".

Looking for compassion and understanding, meaning and a sense of loss or hopelessness starts to creep in. The person who has lost the friend or family member needs some coping strategy and humans will undoubtedly try to find a strategy. The mind begins to devour itself if left to its own devices. The person who has lost someone begins to long road to recovery for the grief. This in some respects can lead to the five forms of grief:

Denial and Isolation,

All of which can happen fast or slow and in any order.

The isolation can begin very quickly as everyone gets on and you're left behind still wondering how life is ever going to be the same again. This is only going to be made worse by those who are told and react badly or inconsiderately towards the news.

Therefore we must stand together and acknowledge that death is happening and be an understanding, caring and open person to those who do suffer a loss. It is not possible to carry on ignoring the truth, one day we are all going to die. What is going to be left behind, will we have children, parents, brothers, sisters, close friends and not so close friends, no one?

What happens after death no one knows, this is an unknown until it is happening. That is why faith exists, because it is a hope that life goes on even if on another plane of existence. We all need to believe, and if we do not believe in a high power then maybe this is a reason in itself for why some people are so cold towards death. They are scared by the idea beyond comprehension or perhaps take it that what once existed must end and nothing after our time on the Earth exists. However, would this not make those disbelievers not only uncaring in certain respects, if of that mentality-certainly those who have no faith can also be the most caring for time is short on our planet-and wouldn't they also take into consideration the actual feeling of death. For we all go to bed and shut our eyes and when asleep we are none the wiser of what's going on around us. Is sleep like a form of death? And with sleep an unconscious activity, would we ever know that we were dead if it was like sleep?

After all, when we do go to bed we may never wake up again. One day we may just drop dead, and death is everywhere, but we just accept that another person in the news has died and carry on, forgetting that another person or family are at a loss. We need to begin to be a little bit more caring and look out for one another. It seems death is never spoken of and when it is spoken of, it's wrapped back up in its box as fast as possible once its happened, (No pun intended). Another life has come and gone, time moves on and it has forgotten. Everything left to the history books to unravel the past for the new generation. Where death is everywhere but most certainly kept between the pages of history books.

Lets not be silly about death lets try to have a grown up discussion and make sure everyone is OK with what is happening around them. Keep your eyes peeled for you never know death maybe just round the corner and someone you know will die or someone you know will tell you someone they knew has died . Be caring.

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