of mine called recently asking to come by and see me. He sounded
completely distraught. His partner of nearly thirty five years had
died. When he arrived he had a brave yet tear stained smile on his
face. Before too long he broke down. I hugged him as he
his sobs wracking his body.
This, I thought, the death of a loved one, would be an interesting
subject for a conversation to have with him in the
"It's OK the way it is
and it's OK the way it isn't.". But during his time of grieving wasn't
the time to have it with him. That's not because
"It's OK the way it is
and it's OK the way it isn't" as a
isn't applicable in such situations - it's applicable in
any situation, should you choose to take it on. It's
because given his grief, it was almost totally
unlistenable for him.
In the big picture, this is the way it is for us human beings. We come,
we live, then we go. That we're almost never prepared for
this eventuality, that we're almost never prepared for the 1000%
certainty of the "then ... we ...
go" part, that we're surprised, shocked, saddened, even
diminished by it, is such an essential
of being human. It's
the way we are.
It's a way from which no one is immune.
In a still bigger picture, this is the way it turns out. We're born, we
live, we die. It's been turning out this way for millennia. It'll keep
on turning out this way for millennia more to come. When he told me she
died because of a rare disease, I thought "No she didn't" (without
speaking out loud) "she died because her life ended.". He blamed
the disease for her death, and was distraught because in his
it killed her - which reveals how thrown we are to believe
that if we don't contract disease, we'll live forever. In other
we're thrown to believe disease cheats us of ie steals
from us the immortality we expect as our birthright.
Invariably this mistaken, hopelessly (ie humanly)
naïve belief leaves us ill-prepared for the eventuality, for the
1000% certainty of a life ending. We blame disease for taking our loved
ones from us in order to avoid confronting that we're then stuck with
the incompletions in our relationships with them.
In a yet even bigger picture, it doesn't mean anything.
And it doesn't mean anything that it doesn't mean anything.
Making it mean something is plain arrogance. We come, we live,
then we go. We're born, we live, we die.
that we are, we want so desperately to have it all mean
something. It doesn't. And we can't bear that we live
lives which have no meaning at all except for the meaning we
and ascribe to them.
this completely dis-passionate
calls for compassion. All of the above (especially given
it doesn't mean anything and it doesn't mean anything that it doesn't
mean anything) calls for compassion. There's a time for
And there are times when
are inappropriate. When someone's just lost their life partner of
thirty five years and is grief stricken, it's no time to say "It
doesn't mean anything.". It's inappropriate because it's
unlistenable. At such times hugs
better. It's my
to have such a conversation with him later. But not until it's
listenable. When the rawness of his grief has passed and it can be
listened, then it would be appropriate. But not now.