Coping with death

First thing first, there has been no death in my family or friends to have caused this thread. It is simply my reaction to seeing how people on Buffy the Vampire Slayer reacted to Buffy’s mom dying. Except for Giles (the adult) and Tara (who had lost her mom when she was 17), they freaked out MAJOR.

[for reference the thread that inspired this MPSIMS was here]
I understand I come from a unique experience. Growing up in a church I was constantly dragged to funeral homes, at least 2-3 times a year. It was either a friend of our family, a family member of someone in the church, or just someone my parents knew. They would take me, my brother, and my sister to funeral homes as they would console the deceased’s family.

I had an uncle die when I was 5, an uncle and aunt die within a week of each other when I was 15, and my grandma died last year. Not to mention I’ve had a second cousin and 3 great uncles die.

I say all that to say this. I’m pretty desenitized to death and the suddeness of losing someone. It no longer has the shock value that it seems to have to much of the population. I’m not saying I don’t cry or feel pain and numbness (you do get both) at someone’s passing, because I do. Instead, death has become part of life’s passage. Part of it should be my Christian mindset, but I know many Christians that are uncomfortable around death. It probably has more to do with my familiarity around death and how it affects people. My experience has allowed me to be a more productive member of society in both coping with personal loss and helping others.

It’s sad that a lot of people never have the oppurtunity that I did. I don’t wish it on anyone but death happens and unfamiliarity by ignoring or downplaying death can be worse. Some of my friends are like this. One friend hadn’t been to a funeral service until he was 29. He still hasn’t completly adjusted to funeral homes and he’s in the ministry where it comes up a lot. He can seem offput by the situation and tries to avoid visiting causing many to wonder where he is when he needs to be supportive.

As the TV program showed, many people can know about death and see death but don’t understand what happens to those left behind. The gang has experienced countless deaths but has never been around to know what happens afterwards. When death finally came for one of their own, they were unprepared.

I’ve never experienced a parent’s or sibling’s death ( hopefully not for a very long time) so I can’t predict what will happen when I do, but I’m confidant that I would be able to handle it better than them. (And yes, I know they’re TV characters but they expressed a lot of the things I know will happen with my friends when they lose a loved one.)

This is a mundane and pointless thread but I wanted to start a topic where I can openly share some of my feelings and frustrations with others. Sorry for the choppy writing and somber tone, but you did open a thread with death in the title. :slight_smile:

Warning: LONG message follows.

I, too, have been exposed to a fairly heavy death toll, but I see something in your post that may explain the ease with which you handle it.

I’ve found in myself that the death of people I knew peripherally saddened me, and occasionally even caused me some emotional pain. Grandparents, uncles, friends of my parents, etc. It wasn’t at all pleasant when they died, but I couldn’t really understand the wig out factor some people had.

Then, a few years ago, my best friend was killed. I went nuts. One reason I was so impressed with the Buffy episode last night is that they NAILED many of the reactions and emotions I remembered feeling. Over the next year, I lost three more close friends, and the meltdown was the same every time.

There is losing people you know, care about and even love. Then there is losing someone who is a fundamental part of who you are, someone that has influenced you in ways you couldn’t begin to list.

I long ago accepted death as inevitable, and I don’t hold any whistling past the graveyard illusions that it won’t happen to every single person I know, myself included. I have the added problem of being an atheist and believing that when we’re gone, that’s it - complete end of existance with no chance of ever seeing that person again.

I’m also pretty jaded and don’t pretend to be bothered when someone I don’t know or don’t care about dies. I understand some part of what those they leave behind feel, but I don’t FEEL anything myself.

There are degrees of being troubled by death. Strangers’ deaths are no big deal, no matter how much some people will tell you they SHOULD be. The death of peripheral people in our lives hurts but is manageable. The death of people we love deeply leaves a hole in us that never gets filled, even though the pain gets better after a while. There’s a void where that person was part of our real-time daily lives, no longer is and will never be again except in the ways they influenced us.

It sounds to me as if you just haven’t hit that last kind of death yet, and I hope it will be a very, very long time before you do. Maybe you’re “better for the experience” or whatever after it happens to you, but you’re never quite the same.

All I can say is when it comes, even if you’re prepared to melt down and go to emotional slag for a while, it will still catch you off guard. Like my sensei used to tell us: “You have to train to know what it is to get kicked in the balls, but it will still hurt every time.”

In the meantime (now that I’ve completely dropped my cynical guard here <shields rising back up in 2 minutes> all I can say is, love the people you love as much and as honestly as you can. It’s the only thing that makes the eventual pain of their passing worthwhile.