I don’t understand death.  It yanks me in directions that seem too impossible to believe.  Perhaps this is the result of living as one of the 99.98% luckiest people on the planet, with floors that are not mud, with no one shooting at me, with all the education I have wished for, with people who love me close by. 

Death?  It’s becoming an unwelcome fixture in my life now, in all its gritty glory.   Denial rears its head, but I think that choice of reaction is actually a kind of pouting.  Death hurts.  My loved ones die when they should not.  Somebody should pay for this. 

What a farce I play.  Welcome to the real world.  Death is not the ultimate evil—that’s a fairy tale.  Death comes without reason or meaning.  It’s not a plot, something I can manipulate to reach satisfaction.  But what is it?  What do I do with it?  Stuff it into a drawer of souvenirs?   Beat myself over the head with it?  Let it crush me beneath its heavy tread?  Emphasize the good and pretend the grief is not really there?

All of the above?

Endure, grow, watch the trees in the rain, write, suffer, survive.  I’m trying to learn something from this death–this wrongful, hurtful death. 

And you?

15 responses to “Death

  1. I’ll start by offering my condolences. I don’t know who in your circle of family or friends has left, but it really doesn’t matter who, just that it happened and you are now trying to cope.

    I lost my Dad two years ago. It still hurts and I miss him something fierce. He was the steadiest presence in my life, my mentor, my friend. He taught me to think for myself, to reach for goals that were “out there” perhaps just out of reach, but attainable with some hard work and dedication.

    I wish for you the gift of remembering the best times with your loved one and their positive presence in your life. I wish for you the healing that comes with time. I wish for you the understanding that death of a loved one makes us stronger somehow. I wish for you the time to grieve and the time to make some sense of it. I wish for you the peace that will come with acceptance.

    • Ann, I too send out my condolences. In the last year I lost my father and my high school best friend, along with others that touched me somehow during their life. The great part of it is that even though they are gone physically, they are with us always as we remember them and miss them, laugh about the good times we had with them, cry for not having one more good time with them. It doesn’t matter their age, whether they lived a good life, a long life, it really doesn’t matter for they were taken too soon from us.

      I pray for your peace and understanding, as I pray for mine, Parrot’s and I imagine all the rest of us here, for if we haven’t tasted death of a close loved one yet, we will for death is a large part of living.

  2. Eight years ago today, my mother was buried. She died on July 2. July 4, I bought her a funeral dress. Endure. Yes. That’s a good word. Endure.

    Ann, I have no words of wisdom, no comforting thoughts. All I can say is–you will learn to endure.

  3. My condolences to you. I, like the others, have suffered loss. To you, I can offer nothing more than mere words. Death charges like a lion into your life, stunning in its destructive power. It comes on little mouse feet, and leaves just as silently. Whether expected or unexpected, Death leaves change in its wake. You have been touched by it, and it has reshaped your world. Close your eyes. Take calm deep breathes. Think of nothing more than this moment, then the next and one after that. You are alive. Now open your eyes and give thanks for that fact while you ponder the following;

    The First Law of Thermodynamics states that ‘energy can be neither created nor destroyed. It can only change forms.’ Matter is a state of energy. Your loved one has been reshaped by Death. He or she has swapped matter for energy in order to travel onward. Death was the catalyst for that change.

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that ‘Consider two isolated systems in separate but nearby regions of space, each in thermodynamic equilibrium in itself. Then let some event break the isolation that separates the two systems, so that they become able to exchange matter or energy.’ In plainer words, when you and your loved touch, there occurred an exchanged of energy. As a result of that exchange, a part of you has traveled on with them. A part of them has remained behind with you. Left behind, you feel shock, anger, denial, bewilderment. Give these emotions their due. Allow yourself time to grieve. But don’t forget how to live, laugh and dance beneath the sun.

    Be well.

  4. Ouch, Ann. Ouch.

    Picture ET, glowing red finger to glowing red heart.

  5. Death is something we live with every day yet when it comes it is always unexpected. What do we do? We continue on. We remember those who have passed and/or who have been taken. We try to remember the good times with them and try to forgive the bad. We try not to feel guilty perhaps for living on, for not being there, or for feeling that we cared too much or not enough.

  6. Ann,
    I am so sad to hear that you’ve lost someone dear to you. Your post touched me particularly, since I lost my dad just about 2 years ago. I doubt you remember, but I wrote an essay about it in your class, about a cheap medal that my dad had gotten in a cancer walk. I should go back and read that.

    One thing I’ve learned in the last two years (though I’ve learned several things) is that many of us have lost someone dear. We should absolutely try to encourage one another and share in each other’s grief. But I think what we forget is that our loss is so individual; and in our grief, we all struggle with something different. For me, it was about the eternity of death. For someone else, it may be about the lack of relationship while the person was alive; still another, it may be the wrongness of the death itself. Trying to relate our own sorrow with another’s doesn’t always work, because it’s not the same. The Bible says that we should weep with those who weep and I agree. But still, the grief we have, the loss we feel…on some level it’s a journey we must walk alone.

    “Endure, grow, watch the trees in the rain, write, suffer, survive. I’m trying to learn something from this death–this wrongful, hurtful death.” I love what you say so poetically; somehow we must still live our lives, even though we’re working through the grief of death. And to someday…in a little while…gain a sense of purpose from it.

  7. Pingback: Death (from Ann Linquist) « Kathan Ink.

  8. Barbara Burris

    Please accept my condolences also, Ann. I am not as eloquent as the others so I will merely say that in my experience, time gives people a different perspective on these happenings. It doesn’t hurt any less, but somehow, with the passage of time, the tragedy can be faced. Writing helped me so much after the loss of my parents and my children. I hope it will do the same for you. I will pray that you find peace.

  9. I have a lot of experience with death. I have been privileged to be present at many deaths over the course of my life. I’ve been the doctor and the death unexpected and much too soon, often violent. I’ve also been the daughter and the death a sucker punch in my gut (my father’s) or a sad relief, an end to suffering (my mother’s). Ultimately death is all the same. A tragedy; a life extinguished.

    There is no way to understand death. Sit still, don’t think, it will settle around you. Don’t do anything with it. Death, you see, is life. You can’t have one without the other.

  10. I was reading quotes by Ryan Gosling in an online mag recently, and one quote was about the fact that he thinks about death all the time, like everybody. The magazine article theme was around the fact that Ryan is a man of few words, but he makes them count.

    I often have wondered what the degree of obsession with death is for other people. I am beginning to believe that it is the sole fact, feeling and fear that unites us.

    I wrote this just this morning:
    “It’s that old time universal truth again: pain. I think that we are more designed for it than joy. It’s what we all have in common – pain, fear and then the ultimate: fear of death. Joy is more difficult to manufacture, it’s more difficult to modulate, regulate, it is virtually unknown to many. But pain is the master/mistress of human reality. ”

    Anyway, I was just searching your cred because I came across an online writing course at Selkirk. cya

  11. Pingback: Death comma thou shalt die! | bree chittim

  12. Pingback: Death comma thou shalt die! | Naked Little Joy

  13. John (Mac) MacDevitt

    I don’t know, Annie. You are a good woman. I loved your Dad. I still remember things he told me, like how to blunt a nail so that it would not split a skinny piece of wood. I know you lost Sarah — she was a treasure. My brother Jim died in 1995; my son Shaun at 16 in 1997. I have not gotten over either. Really, even wanting to get over them is disloyal. Anyway, I hope you are okay — you are a great woman — or you were when I was with you back in the 60s. I hope you are well, and that Wylie is well, too.
    Johnny Mac–or Boog

    • When Pop died in February of 2002, I wrote this poem for Father’s Day. It was the best I could do at the time and also references my husband’s father whom he lost at age 24. Share some of yours here too. I’m sure you must have some–on any topic.

      Celebrating Father’s Day

      On Father’s Day our broken hearts come together to celebrate
      in pain.
      But I’m glad there is still some bleeding.
      At least it’s some sort of bond–
      anything to fight off death
      and time, that leech.
      The connection with our fathers, the tender flesh of love,
      has been hacked apart.
      The wounds have not healed.
      Fine, I say.
      What idiot says we should just let our dead fathers go? What fool is that?
      Hold on, I say. Bleed away.
      Our fathers are not angels, no matter what romantic ideas people have
      of dead fathers looking down on us from heaven, nodding serenely
      as if they suddenly turned perfect after death,
      demonstrating every virtue they didn’t have in life:
      pure patience, absolute interest, beaming love.
      It’s a sweet vision, and I don’t scorn sweetness,
      but I’m still bleeding, you see, so platitudes make me want to sock someone.
      They’re dead! They’re not on a cloud.
      Neither of them would agree to that anyway
      Only getting to watch
      Having to wear wings
      Stuck with constant benevolence.
      God. Whose idea was that?
      I like to hear his voice inside me, that Pop I loved,
      hollering at me, “Park there! Buy that! This terrible! That is good!”
      Like he knew everything, and I could not survive without his valuable direction.
      I know you hear your dad, calling you “kid”
      We’re not letting go.
      I say bleed. Please bleed.
      No harps. No forgetting.
      No way back.

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