The holiday season is a time to rejoice, reunite with loved ones, spend time with family and friends. A time for celebration and cheer. The expected happiness this time of year is what makes a death seem all the more tragic.
The saying goes that death comes in threes. I have been notified of three deaths of people I knew within this past week. (ok, one is a cat, but I'm counting it because I don't want to think about losing any more friends!). The odd thing about learning of someone's death for me is that when someone I know has died, it has always been a person that I haven't seen in a while. A situation like this tends to numb the feelings of grief, the reality of the actual death doesn't ever sink in. I feel guilty for not breaking down and crying, but the bubble of protection that distance provides leaves me feeling shocked and surprised rather than sad.
About a year ago, my mother wanted me to attend her colleague's mother's funeral, she says because she wanted me to get some "funeral experience". I told her I was willing to bet that I had been to three times as many funerals in my life at that point than she. It seems in my lifetime, I have seen more deaths of young people than I have of the elderly. I've almost come to expect that someone I know will pass away each year, it's just a matter of who, when and how - this is perhaps another factor that numbs the pain of a death.
I like to believe that when we die, we are reunited with those that we loved and lost in life. I imagine my friends from college hanging out in some heavenly mountainous area, enjoying the essence of nature. I see my Grandmother swimming, riding her bike, the beauty of her days as a model restored in her face. My mind is at ease if I focus on the fact that those whom we have lost are now free of the burdens of living life on Earth, in our clunky bodies, with our trite day-to-day problems. We don't know what happens when we die, but as a coping method, I try to focus on what the dead may be experiencing rather than those left behind on Earth. This is why I don't cry at funerals. I've actually been to a few services where the family of the deceased released balloons, had uplifting music playing, and the general mood was a celebration of a life lived, not a life lost.
Yes, it is painful when we lose someone we love, especially around Christmas time, and I can't imagine what my friend's family and my (half) sister are going through right now. All I can do is lend my support, be a listening ear, and thank God for letting me briefly know these beautiful people.