Dealing With Death

I’ve come to the realization that I tend to deal with death by practicing avoidance and apathy. Now, don’t get me wrong, death upsets me; I’m the person who was near to crying when I thought these two cats were left at a rest stop and waiting for someone but I couldn’t take them with me. (Turns out they are strays, live in some ventilation-thing, and have since had kittens from when I first saw them to the second time. Makes me feel better they know how to take care of themselves.) All that and I do not even count myself as a cat person. But when it comes to death…I sort of close off. The first death I dealt with was my Grandma’s, and, while that was good because it kept me from having to go to a Catholic school/having to hide my religion from a family member I adore, it was heartbreaking. Granted, I was little, about five, so I didn’t fully grasp the concept, didn’t understand the memorial at our church. I also didn’t go to the funeral. I think that may be because my parents thought I was too young yet to go to such a thing. When I did finally understand what this meant, what her ‘having a cut in her head’ meant (I only later figured that was explain-to-a-child speak for brain hemorrhage), I cried. I prayed. I believed fully she was watching over me, and I still do, only in a different manner than guardian angel and heaven. And I cried for years later, still trying to cope with that I lost the only grandparent I knew, someone who I really cared about.

The second time I had to deal with death was with a neighbor. She was elderly, her daughter staying to help take care of her, and I would go to the house often when the daughter’s niece and nephew would come over to play. She was nice, the older lady, though neither is/was young. I got used to her. She started to forget more, move less, and then she ended up dying. I think I may have seen my Grandma’s body, though I’m not sure, but I do know I saw the neighbor’s body at a viewing. I did not go to that funeral either, just viewing. I was ten, and still prayed. I even left a card in her casket. I didn’t really cry, since I had recently started thinking tears were bad and a sign of weakness basically, but I was rather sad. I still am, but I didn’t show it. I thought about it a bit, though.

Then my dog died. That was sad, too. I had her since I was maybe seven or so. I didn’t cry. I felt like it. But I didn’t. Instead I…more or less pushed it aside, choosing to ignore it once she was buried. I missed her, still do, but I ignored it. And most recently my chorus teacher from middle school died. He was absolutely fantastic, if strict. He always made sure we went on the trips each year to whichever state. He cared. He made my middle school life a bit more bearable. And now…I feel these sad feelings trying to come up, but part of me keeps them at bay. And every time I see a classmate who I haven’t spoken to since, well, maybe middle school or early high school, post something on Facebook about it, about the upcoming memorial and funeral and all, I…ignore it. I scroll on past, choosing to pretend I didn’t see it. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just I don’t think letting myself fully feel these things is to be helpful.

I know my current furry baby has maybe seven years left, if I go off his mother’s guessed age, and I know my parents are getting older. I know people I love dearly are going to die at some point, and even writing this hurts, but at the same time I can feel this part pushing back against the tide of emotion. I know I learned apathy from being made fun of in elementary school, but the ignoring of death? I guess it ties in to that in some ways. Certain things are not fun to process. The funny thing is, I more or less accept death as an aspect of life, but I ignore it. I don’t know how those two go hand in hand, but they seem to. I don’t know why I’m writing this, maybe the mounting feeling of dread deep in my stomach, or maybe it simply is from my forever-ago chorus teacher’s death. I don’t know. I just know that maybe I should work on how I cope with this sort of thing. Apathy and ignoring probably isn’t the best way to go in this case. Saying ‘nope, didn’t happen, forget it’ just doesn’t sound quite right.

All I can hope for, at the moment at least, is that no one I care about dies any time soon. I still remember the near panic I was in when a friend told me about a car accident she was in, that could have ten times worse than it was. I don’t like that feeling. And I don’t like losing people dear to me. I have this sense that my ‘wall’ against death can only take so many hits before it comes crumbling down and the floodgates open.

I just have to hope for now, hope for all to go well for a long time yet.


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