Why do we call it “dealing” with death. Death is not something that is to be dealt with as if it was an annoyance. It is a life altering event that occurs in everyone’s life at least once. There are varying degrees with the relationship between you and the deceased, but in the end, it does make you stop and contemplate what they meant to you, even if it is for a short moment.
My mother’s death stopped my life cold. From that moment on, nothing seems to matter anymore.
I understand that this feeling is a part of the grieving process, but I don’t see my perspective on life ever being the same again. Being a part of the millennial generation, it has become a love-hate relationship with my peers. Part of me would like to empathize with them and feel like the world is against their every move, but another emerging part of me wants to tell everyone to stop. Just stop and look around.
Your world is not going to end if you go to a restaurant without vegan options. And I say “your world” because that’s precisely what it is. Each of our perspectives on reality are completely different, based on our experiences throughout life. As much as I would like to sympathize with you that they are out of your favorite breakfast burrito, there are larger issues occurring beyond our own control.
Control is an interesting abstract thought once you have lost it. To have control is strong and empowering. It can so easily be used for good as well as evil. When my mother passed away, I realized that I have no control over my life, which may shock a few people reading this. We all have no control over whether we will get the job we want, meet our dream partner, or even live to see the weekend. And that is a paralyzing yet enlightening idea.
So why not do the things you’ve been wanting to do your whole life. Go on that trip, buy that expensive purse, date the bad boy your parents would hate. Losing control is one of the most exhilarating experiences you can have if you allow it. Allow your mantra to become “Fuck It”. Allow yourself to see minute issues as they are, and just that. Life is what it is, and that is the most invigorating experience if you allow yourself to open up and let go.
Letting go is the hardest part of experiencing the death of a loved one. When my mother passed away, I was constantly being told that I am a strong young woman and my courage and resilience is admired. I absolutely hated hearing this. Being stereotyped as a strong young woman is not something I wanted to embody during this period of grief. Being told you are strong by perfect strangers at a wake does not allow me to shed any tears. Being told I am courageous does not let me pull my hair and scream in agony at the sight of my angelic mother in a coffin.
Being told that I am resilient does not allow me to break down and release pent up rage towards to universe that began churning in my belly when my mother first became sick in a cathartic manner. I learned quickly after the actual death that the world does not stop turning because something awful occurred to you. That exact phrase came to me, almost as if it was whispered in my ear by my own mother, while I was driving home the day she died.
Being put into the box of a strong and independent woman does not allow you to grieve properly and let go in a healthy manner. You begin to suppress your emotions towards the event as if they aren’t even real. You begin to busy yourself so you do not have time to break down and expose how vulnerable you really are. You are not able to let go of this event and move towards the future your mother would have wanted you to have.
So please, don’t tell a girl who’s mother just died that she is strong and courageous for dealing with this death, because in reality, you are making this experience for her so much worse than it already is.