Everything I've Learned About Death I Learned from Blogging
The loss of a loved one has an incredibly piercing impact on our lives. Some of the ways I learned to handle death early on has given me a more realistic look at my own mortality
Beliefs Matter Little in the Face of Devastating Loss
It was a good thing for me that I figured out fairly early in my life that I leaned more towards Agnosticism than any certain system of beliefs. The series of deaths I experienced just as I was reaching adulthood, along with my thirst for knowledge on the subject of after-death, without the implementation of any organized religious beliefs, allowed me to take a step back, weigh all that was important to me, and carry on.
I've never been able to accept the polar ends of the options on what happens to us after death, and I've never once tried to convince anyone that I know the truth of it. I don't, but I think there are many things that should not be discounted. I think you may be doing you, your loved ones, and the person you lost, a dishonor if you tell yourself in moments of grief that "That's it" or "It's over, forever."
I did this to myself for ten long years. During those ten long years, I journaled, I jotted, I wrote letters to mothers who lost their children, and then I sucked up the idea of a painful rejection, and called them and read those letters to them. They always appreciated them.
They all said the same thing, "It feels really good to know that my child afffected the lives of others in a good way."
Within a space of a few years, I loss my best childhood friend, the first boy I kissed, the friend who never failed to appear in one of my fondest memories of being a kid. The loss devastated me and left me quite angry, bitter, and alone.
While I spent an entire year inside of a horrible dark cloud of grief, I also concieved my second child. From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I sought my friends mother to ask her if I could honor my son by naming him after hers, my sorely missed best buddy. I found her and with tears in her eyes, hands on my great belly, she smiled and gave me permission. In a heartbreaking moment, she asked if there was a chance the baby was his. I felt like my very soul tore in two. "I wish," I had said.
My friend had died on May 16th, 1993. My son, named after my closest friend on earth, was born on May 16th, 1994. So deep in grief still I failed to take notice of the gift the universe gave me in that moment.
Then I Noticed....
A loss I had witnessed two years before Steve's death and then another one five years after, left me so angry, so lonely, that even years after I lost Steve, I still regularly wished myself with him, with them. And what if there was no after-death? Well, to me, in those days, it was well worth the risk to find out.
In June of 2004, a full eleven years after Steve's loss, I began blogging. This was odd enough in itself as I had been a life-long journaler. My last entry in my hardcopy journal, before things went digital said, "Steve died," and I had not written one more word since.
I started my blog with the story of Ben, he had been my stalwart friend. He had been the only human I had ever known that deserved to be given the title friend since Steve's death. One with worth to match the label I rarely gave.
As I wrote out my own story, I began to see patterns, elements of my own story that I had missed. You can't see the forest for the trees, and maybe, you can't see the miracles for the grief.
I've never thought as miracles as something given as a gift by any dieties, instead always seeing them as wonders, marvels, phenomenon that I don't even care to try to explain. All I care about is that they were there... and somehow I missed them.
Impressions for Life
So many of the things that I was blogging, so many of the intracies within each story began to grow into a series of repetative incidents that I, along with many of my readers, found it hard to ignore. Where I would share one story, others would pipe in that I hadn't noticed this, or had completely missed that.
All of the signs I had missed, all of the details that life had been trying its hardest to point out to me had all gone unnoticed while I sat in that black pit of grief those many long years. Looking back, what miracles, what incidents and marvels did I allow myself to ignore?
- Against all odds my second son had been born a year to the day that his namesake died. Instead of remembering that day for the horror that it had become, I was given a day of fond memories. Instead of longing for that long lost feeling of oneness with another human soul or spirit, I was given that very gift in a child who to this day still soothes me. (No small feat for a 17 year old mind you)
- After Bens death a friend had called me, one I had not spoken to for years, one who only knew Ben in passing and did not know he was gone, to share a message. She told me she'd had a dream about Ben, and in the dream, Ben had told her to let me know that , "Everything's cool." This short phrase had been a 'safe word' I used with him as he helped me struggle through a physically abusive relationship. I hung up from that call angry that I had not been the one to dream of him. I sunk back into deep grief over his loss.