Monday, July 10, 2017

You Don't Wanna Know

You better believe it.
A close friend of mine who recently lost her son shared some of the things people said in an attempt to comfort her. One word that popped up was "condolences," which were offered repeatedly. Both of us wondered just what condolences are and how they help with grief. Answer: they are nothing, and don't help a whit. Likewise, saying "sorry for your loss" is pitifully ineffective and borderline insulting, sort of like dumping a cup of water onto a forest fire and thinking you made a difference.

My own son, nearing 30, would likely tell you I was a decent mother, maybe even a good mother or, depending on his mood, a great mother. But press him on the subject and he'll cave and say I screwed up big-time in one particular area: Death. When he was just a toddler he asked me about it, and I foolishly did not lie and say any of the following:
1. Only very old people die.
2. Mommy and Daddy will never die.
3. You won't ever die. 

I wish I had said those things. Instead, believing that ignorance at any age is never good, I told him the truth, sugar-coating it as much as possible to make it palatable to three-year-old ears. Still, if you asked him today he would say, "I'm messed up because when I was little my mother said she could die at any minute, and so could I."

Death is a tough subject, but it shouldn't be and it needn't be. Avoiding the reality of our own eventual demise, and that of our loved ones, serves no purpose; it only magnifies the pain we experience when it happens to mammoth proportions. Instead of squandering every leisure moment pleasuring ourselves in meaningless pursuits, how about spending some quality time pondering our mortality and how we'll handle death when it finally comes?

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