Death Becomes Us
29 August 2006
I am so overwhelmed by emotions right now. Last week it was about Ellen and the things going on in her life. Now it’s about death and everything surrounding me. I have been reading Tuesdays with Morrie since Saturday, and I should say, it’s not one I would recommend for someone who does not want to be confronted by unresolved issues. That, I think, is not the only source of my melancholy mood these days. I’ve been seeing House on DVD and well, it’s comedy as it is. But the characters, their issues and their relationships, they just make everything so interesting, in a melancholy kind of way.
Just this morning, an officemate shared to us that she received a phone call informing of her mother-in-law’s death. Another officemate, also shared about a niece she lost last week. Then there was Morrie, telling Mitch about how he is holding up with all the symptoms manifesting itself each day, about his eventual death and about the life that he was leaving.
Death, how do we conquer death? Or is it more of how does death conquer us. It’s really hard to tell considering that none of us here can tell how it really happens. We cannot tell the story of our own death but we experience death through the death of another; a friend, a lover, a parent, relative, a child, an icon, a total stranger. And each time, it arouses different emotions depending on how much emotional investment we have put into our relationship with the departed. And the more involved we are, be it negatively or positively, the more affected we are by that person’s demise.
How does one move on after experiencing death? A lot of ways, of course, but one can sum it up into two major categories: leave it or live it. One can leave the whole death experience by moving on, accepting the demise and getting on with ones life. To live it also involves the process of getting on with ones life, but not the part of moving on and accepting the demise.
Death can make or break relationships. There are those people so consumed about death that they try to mask it with a pile of workload hoping that doing so drives the pain away. For others it may involve relocating, getting a new job, meeting new acquaintances. For others, it’s just about not talking about it. The denial that one goes through of the feelings invoked by death changes the person.
Denial is good. It’s a way of coping things. It makes one get its bearing, like a deep breath before that plunge into the swimming pool or that silence before you start answering a test paper. It helps you clear your mind if only to concentrate with what is at hand. Lingering denial, however, is not acceptable. It’s like this pent-up emotion, waiting for the right opportunity for outburst. Either that or it becomes this numbness of a body part that one tries to live with apathetically.
Of course, different people, different ways, different pace. There is neither a quick fix nor a canned solution. But if one has to live and get the most out of life, it must rise above death.