Don’t worry; you aren’t going to get a dissertation on what I think about it because I know you don’t want to hear it. What you will hear, though, is that this is the second time I’ve stood face to face with the reaper in five months, and there are some lessons you can learn from death. It doesn’t change anything about the situation, but it can change your perspective on life. For example:
It reminds you to live. There are some who are homebound or confined in facilities that would consider the ability to go out in the world, get aggravated like hell by people with attitudes, and work until their brain is fried a great privilege. It’s easy to assume that simple things like going to work, caring for your home and family, and being able to come and go as you please are our rights, until illness or injury take them away. “We know that God works all things for good” (Romans 8:28) is something we too often forget, and yet we’d be better off mentally and spiritually if we decided to seek the benefit instead of complain. Even if the “why” eludes you, it can always be filed away as life experience that may give you something useful for later. Or it could be as simple as humility rubbing off rough edges that are hurting you more than you realize.
You learn who the people you know really are. If the application of pressure bleeds out character, then death is the ultimate test of exactly who does and doesn’t have the capacity to behave like a civilized human being. You learn who is awesome and who epically sucks in your life when you grieve. The good news is that more seem to fall on the good side than the bad, and that’s comforting. And the better news is that you know exactly where lines need to be redrawn in your life, and you can adjust accordingly. I know my “give a crap” radar has been reset in the past week.
You also learn who you really are. This may be news to you, but everybody grieves differently. While you’re used to weeping and wailing, the truth is that there are lots of ways people react to loss, and sometimes you can surprise yourself. Case in point: I feel like the world has kicked me in the ***, and I want to kick back. I haven’t shed any public tears, but now I know why everything has pissed me off since my father-in-law’s health started the rapid decline last spring. It’s helped me to gain perspective on how I’m seeing the world, and I’m taking steps to find ways to reclaim a better balance in my mind.
I also learned that I can eat through the apocalypse. I really have to pay attention to my eating habits right now.
You appreciate the smaller things. Like being able to actually work all of your assigned hours for the week, clean up your house, take time to enjoy recreation and hobbies, and talking about something other than illness, death, and dying. Your world collapses in the wake of a death, and the expansion back to normal can give you a new appreciation for the beauty of an ordinary day.
Your sense for what’s important is sharpened. Or rather, your tolerance for crap is gone. Suddenly, gossip, idle chatter, created drama and self-inflicted suffering strikes you as offensive. And you might just say so, from time to time.
No, grief isn’t pleasant, but it’s unavoidable and will come to us all. We live in community and as such, we will have to deal with loss and grief throughout our lives. There’s no escaping it. If you feel safe, enjoy the deception while you can. The reaper can come at any time, and takes who he pleases.
It’s not pleasant, but at least you aren’t alone, and the realizations from it can give you insight. No, it doesn’t change things, and you can never get back what you lost. But at least you can strengthen what you have, and remember to live better, one day at a time.
That’s all today. Take care and have a good rest of the week.