Coping Part I: Kid n’ play’s take on death (and other touchy subjects)
Alright, so my last solemn post for a bit…
A few weeks back, Diane and I had to sit through an agonizingly slow discussion on death and death’s symptoms, while Craig had his second Hickman put in. Unlike popular belief, people go quietly, or so we were told. I was surprised D sat through it, because she has a tendency to use her need for a fix (Coke Zero) as an easy out during awkward conversations. Though the discussion itself was a bit ham-ball cheesy, the topic brought to light a few interesting questions like, when is it appropriate to talk about death? Who’s right is it to initiate? Should the discussion be merely hypothetical, or actually get down to the nitty-gritty? And does such a discussion invalidate one’s fight, one’s process? In other words, can such a topic fast-forward a process when the real fight has just begun? I don’t have any easy answers, but personally, I find it’s easier to consider this sort of stuff with my mom than with Craig. I rationalize it as this: a parent passing before a child is always in the cards. That’s part of the game. We’ve had numerous opportunities to play with the notion, spin it around a bit, and spit it out when it became too uncomfortable. But the notion was always there, and in a way, priming us for the inevitability of losing a parent. Though the possibility (stress possibility…still a lot of fight left) of losing our mom so early is absolutely heartbreaking, it’s still within the order of things. Losing a sibling, well, that’s frankly not something many consider unless very late in age. And sibling grief seems rarely talked about, as a result. I call it the unwritten hierarchy of grief: children often defer to their parents grief and try to be strong in that regard. I’m, of course, writing from a so-called child’s perspective, so perhaps this may not be the case for a parent. But I find that, for my siblings, it’s been mostly true. We try to be strong for my mom, and, most especially, my dad. We ask about their well-being and assure them that we’re doing fine. We’re often advised by others that we need to be there for our parents, which is true, for that’s not only the cycle of things, but, more importantly, ingrained in our Lawler blood — not out of a sense of obligation, but a genuine love for our parents, and interest in their well-being. But it’s interesting, D and I looked through the book On Grief and Grieving, and not one section (as least from what I can recall) discussed a) simultaneous grief not brought on by tragic accidents or b) sibling grief. I write this as a way to put dimension to something different to traditional concepts of grief. The loss of a spouse is heartbreaking, and the loss of a child, unnatural. The loss of a parent, a role model, a friend is absolutely painful. And the loss of a sibling, a comrade, a partner in crime, and a best friend is, well, in a word, lonely. Where this is all going, I haven’t a clue. With that said, I just tucked my comrade into bed… –J
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