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When Death Comes
NO MATTER WHAT EMOTIONAL PREPARATIONS we have made for death, it is hard to accept when it actually does take place -- our sense of reality is shaken so deeply. It’s surprising how much we need our day-to-day routine to feel strong.
Small changes are upsetting, such as having your desk moved at work or having a toothache. Now, with the normal routine destroyed, with the unthinkable actually happening, your mind may be unable to believe or understand what is going on. The time up to death, the event itself and the time just afterward touch us too closely to be viewed within the normal parameters of life.
Like it or not, we are cut off from the events of an ordinary day. Like war, death cuts through all ordinary conditions, but rest assured this experience will eventually be assimilated into the fabric of your life. Things will return to normal, new beginnings will emerge.
You will discover unsuspected sources of strength and maturity within yourself, but the process will be painful. You will forge new bonds with other people -- not immediately when you feel that no one can understand or enter into your grief, but in the long term.
There’s a temptation after dealing with a parent’s death to divide people into insiders (those who have also suffered) and outsiders (those still living in ignorance of what death really means). When this mellows with time, it can leave you with a valuable appreciation of other people and their problems.
Finally, you may feel stronger for having had to confront some of life’s deepest questions, for having looked death in the face and perhaps formulated your own concept of it to sustain you through life.
All this is in the future, outside the immediate context of your parent dying, but hang on to the idea. There is indeed a future, more varied and enriching than you can imagine in the desolate circumstances of the present.
Copyright © 2001 Fisher Books. All rights reserved.