Modern Lament for the Dead



Death and grief is an incredible thing.

Terrible is the word for the event itself.  Surreal for the days after.  Incredible for the period beyond that in realisation the person has gone forever.

Nothing can prepare you for it, not even warnings it is imminent, correct prognoses or absolute certainty it will happen to all of us.

In the funeral homes we see the laid out body, looking the most peaceful they ever looked in their life. The first paradox to deal with.

They sleep the forever sleep, cold and stoic.  It’s finished.  Your business and theirs.  They will never wake up, you’ll never see them in that green t shirt or getting the mail, again.

That is it.  This is the incredible part.  You must now go on in your life.  You won’t get to talk to them again.  You won’t see them, ever again.  No one can prepare you for the hugeness of that.

You spend the first few weeks after getting back into life – and doing the have-tos.  Then the dreams start.

He is upside-down in a water-filled phone booth.  You can’t help him.

You are walking through a market and there he is, walking right past you, healthy, staring at a destination you can’t see.

You wake up and remind yourself to talk to them next time and ask where the fuck they’ve gone.

Then the tears start.  As the days wear on, the tears just come naturally at the worst times.  You can’t let them sometimes, because you don’t want to talk about it.

No one can understand your grief, you realise.  And half the time you deny it’s grief anyway.  It’s just tiredness.  You hide it all so well.

Sometimes the anger is palpable.  Emptying the rubbish bin becomes an outlet for rage.  You look around and hope no one sees.

You reduce your workload, drop your study, your friendships, even food.  Are you preparing for a kind of death, too?

Then you find others who know what it’s like.  The carry on-ers.  The ones who didn’t fall apart over the death, but have maybe collapsed inside.

You start to get angry at trivia and turn away from it.  You begin to see the purpose of death is to move forward.  The only thing that can come out of it is progress.

You move forward some days, and slide back again.

But you have to keep moving forward, or your spirit will die.


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