Death – friend or foe?

Why do I take seriously what I take seriously?

I think Dorothy Zbornak (from The Golden Girls, played by Bea Arthur, may she rest in peace) posed this question perfectly back in 1985. During the episode The Heart Attack (1.10) Dorothy told the tale of an acquaintance who went to Paris, visited a restaurant, and ate only watercress because she feared gaining weight. She finished her grub, paid, but as she left this gargoyle fell from above and hit her on the head, killing her.

Look at her last meal – watercress.

Why not just eat the chocolate cake?

Recently – and this isn’t all that recent a thought, I’ve been working in funeral homes for 5 years so I’ve often considered it, but the events of this year have empowered it – I’ve been wondering about life and its purpose when death is at its end.

Why do I care for what I care for, why is it all so desperately important to me when no-more is my ultimate destiny?

My passions – my aspirations – my achievements and feelings of unworthiness and worthiness, of offence at being slighted by someone, are all nothing in the great big scheme of things – to the World I am nothing but a burden, I am nothing but another man wanting and taking its resources, and only repaying my debt (short) once gone…

On Saturday January 3rd 2015 my Grandmother passed away, she was 90, she suffered from dementia – I’d witnessed the cruelty of old age – and her death was a blessing, was the freeing of her Soul, was a kindness of sorts because she hated the loss of herself – in death she was whole once more.

GrandmaMy words:

And so the sun sets
On this day of days –
As the light departs,
As weariness becomes thee,
I’ll remember, I won’t forget the beauty.

I found peace relatively quickly – I like to think my peace came about so rapidly because I’m acquainted with Death, was accepting of this being the best thing for her, and not because I’m cold…

As is life, though, it carried on – work returned to being a focus, and after a month or two, so did writing – happiness returned to happiness house, if not a little tainted because my last Grandparent was gone. Life quickly returned to ‘normal’.


Tuesday March 31st 2015 – another day I’ll never forget (they seem to mount up!) – my cousin, at 32, was killed in a car crash. He was en route to a meeting that, it now transpires, would’ve been a waste of his time because whatever ridiculous query needed a face-to-face meeting has subsequently been resolved over the phone; and he left behind a wife, his son anCousind step-daughter, and the holes in the hearts of his mum and sister, in me, in the rest of our family, in his friends and work colleagues, is just too much, I find.

Time, it passes,
And the light, it fades,
And all we’re left with are memories
At the end of our beautiful day.

He died two weeks after we’d made plans to get up to the mischief that cousins do cherish, and my loss is nothing in the face of what he left behind.

Yesterday I visited The Scene – I saw the spot, the gleaming new barrier that replaced the old destroyed by the careen of his car, that erased what happened, and I read the kind words left by those who loved him, and I impotently placed some flowers and tried to find some words – I tried to make sense of something that sits so oddly in my heart and mind, that makes me want to cry because I don’t know what else to do.

I could just weep until they day I too die.

I ask again:

Why do I take seriously what I take seriously?

To think of the pain afflicting his wife – barely three years of marriage – and to think of the loss his son will feel when he’s old enough to understand, and the loss his step-daughter feels because he adored her, and she, him. To think of my aunt, his mother – his sister and father – and to consider even for a moment their pain, to consider for a moment the thoughts that plague their every waking moment, their questions that haunt their dreams at night. To think of the rest of his family – my parents, my other aunt and uncle and cousins – and to consider his friends and their shock, their loss, is almost too much, it is almost too cruel to be real – I refuse to believe it! But who am I kidding?

It is real.

I work in a funeral home and I attended his funeral. I see this pain too often but I’m usually so far removed from it that it doesn’t effect me – it can’t effect me because if it did then I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.

I wouldn’t be able to support the bereaved.

I wouldn’t be able to honour the deceased.

Death – friend or foe?

I just don’t know.

Sometimes friend, sometimes foe, I suppose – Death is sometimes a pain so great that it can’t be described, sometimes a blessing so glorious because peace has finally been bestowed…

I’ve learnt something, though.

I’ve learnt to –

Embrace what I embrace – adore who I adore – and shun away negativity, life is just too damn short…
Tomos James