It is not easy to conceive our own mortality. In the back of your mind, you are the starring of your life’s movie and the starring will walk through fire, dodge bullets, survive a bomb attack, get shot at, and they do not die. I started thinking about my inevitable death after I lost my father because it occurred to that our reunion could only be through my dying. It was as if, by embracing the idea of death we are somehow (him and me) in it together. By going through the stages of grief and by reflecting on the inevitability of my own death, I learn to live more responsibly.
…The stages of grief…
Never in my life have I been confronted with search a hard reality as that of accepting the demise of my old man. So many aphorisms are told to console bereaved families; “He is just asleep,” Death ends a life and not a relationship.” The aphorisms are as true as they are false. Death is no ordinary sleep, and as time goes by, you realize that you don’t get to have a relationship with someone’s memory regardless of how much you love him or her. You only get to recall certain fragments of time, lived in the past. That is all you get, not a relationship. The hand of death takes the relationship.
So, you are urged to be strong, which almost impossible. When you loose someone you love, it breaks you from the inside out. The tears that flow from your eyes, the numbness in your heart, and the weakness in your knees, are shadows of the pain within you. Yet, it is important to forge some semblance of strength. It is important to get out of bed, and try to live your life despite the funk. Do not be in a hurry to get over it or fathom the consequences of his or her death. Take it a day at a time because life goes on with so much audacity it hurts. Throw yourself into the mix of your responsibilities and the relationships you value the most, as it slowly and painfully dawns on you, the person is no more.
After a month of being in constant shock, you move to the next stage, the firsts. You take note of the first time you take a certain action after death took your loved. First time you spent an hour without thinking about him or her, your first birthday, their first birthday, first Christmas and so on. You automatically count the firsts, from important life events to the very trivial occurrences. It hurts as you begin to notice how necessary it is to move on with life.
Lose is very confusing. The confusion is constant in all the grief stages but after a while, there are episodes of understanding, and you become stronger. It is now perhaps six months after the death of the person, and you are more or less able to comprehend it. Most of the times you’re strong, even with the episodes of anguish when grief overwhelms you without warning. You still religiously count the first, as if to record the forms in which life is moving on. It starts to feel like you’re living him or her behind. Like they stuck their foot in some point in time and can no longer walk with you into the present.
At this stage, you understand that time may not heal you as it had promised; it will only teach you how to manage, despite the pain. The pain, the pain reveals to you certain truths about life and yourself that make you a better person. It is not just a pure tragedy; it has some beauty to it.
Someday you are going die. It may be soon. It will be sudden. It will leave those who love you with a broken heart. Most likely, death will take you by surprise. On the other hand, you may live to a certain point of your life, and the doctors will tell you that you have a terminal disease. You may become anxious. You may deny the reality of your impending death and then die without accepting. These scenarios are not exhaustive. It could play out in a number of ways since death is unpredictable.
He is also indifferent and aloof. It does not matter whether your family loves you or not. It does not matter whether you have finished all the plans you had in mind. It does not matter whether you are a kind person or a basic jerk, a success or a failure; he gives no regard to the colour of your skin or social status. He takes, and he takes indiscriminately.
There’s a better approach. To know you’re going to die, and to be prepared for it at any time. That’s better. That way, you can actually be more involved in your life while you’re living it. ― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie
Death is inevitable. It will happen to all of us. We need to live with the end in mind, in order to improve the quality of the life we live. It is important that we talk to our children about death. Possibly, around that time when we tell them about puberty and changes to expect in their bodies, or whenever as a parent you get the courage to do so. Let them know they need to be responsible for their actions because our actions become the substance of the legacy we leave. Talk to your spouse, your sister, your mother and everybody you love. Talk about death. Talk about your dying. Imagine the morning after your death. Try to imagine what will be their fondest memory of your on the first anniversary after your death.
As you embrace your mortality, it will give you the courage to go after your dreams, to stay true to your values and to live by your ideals.
Wear your heart on your sleeve; this just could be your last day.