When You Haven’t Experienced Death

If you’ve been faithful readers, you get the format: Quitter and I write two posts about similar topics, giving two stories and hopefully two perspectives on one subject (this can sometimes be hard cause I’m convinced on most days we are identical twins, possessing identical brains).  So when Quitter pitched to me she wanted to right a deep story about her Dad, I balked.  Death?  Depression?  With a whole lot of gratitude, I am near virgin status in the death department.

When I expressed as much to Quitter, that I had nothing to bring to the topic of death, she was quick to correct me: that was my POV.  Is it better or worst that you’ve made it to 40 without having to experience a lot of death?

To be clear, I have had people in my life die.  I sadly just can’t say I was terribly close to any of them.  My brother and parents were not terribly close to our extended family (for WAY too many reasons to cram into this one read) so when grandmothers, aunts, uncles, died, I understood why others felt strong sadness, I simply didn’t.

When my cat Maggie died at 9 quite suddenly after having repeated seizures, this was likely when I came the closest to feeling real sadness over the loss of a loved one.  This cat adored me.  She was terrified of so many other people but would call out in the house to know where I was.  She would cuddle up on my lap and lick me with gratitude for giving her attention.  When she died, I remember the next day standing in the grocery store, declaring to my husband I was utterly dehydrated from all the crying.  I felt the same way losing her sibling the beginning of this year.

When it comes down to being ready for the death of a beloved friend or family member, I feel unprepared.  I’ve seen friends lose fathers and siblings, babies and close aunts.  They’ve built a strength in those moments that I don’t know how to.

On bad days, it also has made me extremely attached to the people in my life who do matter the most.  I remember I once cornered my parents in a crying rage, expressing how I was terrified to one day be without them.  They gave me the perfect parental answer: “We taught you to be strong and ready for everything.  We know you’ll have the tools for this too.”

I hope I do.

Photo by Adi Ulici on Unsplash

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