Death #1

I’ve been planning to write about death for a while now, specifically what I think is wrong about the concept and the way it is dealt with in our language. I’ll put that to one side for the moment, because there is another aspect about people passing away that I just want to get off my chest first.

This is going to be the blogging equivalent of me throwing furniture around, so if that bothers you, don’t read on.

Loved ones passing away usually pisses me off. Really pisses me off.

I don’t even get as sad as I used to. I think, “well, they had a life at least” and if it’s been cut short or taken away in stupid circumstances, I’ll get livid.

I can understand why some people look to find blame in others at times like these. How are you going to vent your anger?

Blame God? I don’t believe in he/she/it. That’s got to be an issue for atheists. At least those that get pissed off like I do.

Blame the hospital/family/etc? That’s usually unfair because unless there actually is negligence, which usually there isn’t, a death can be the result of a conflation of causes. If find it hard to blame people for this stuff.

Crying is easier, I think, than venting anger. Just let your sadness out like air out of a balloon. You can’t get it all out, but you can make a difference.

Eventually I get over anger, but it takes longer.

So what do you do if circumstance keeps throwing you the kind of deaths that piss you off?

At age 50 a few years ago, my Father was given two years to live. Four months later at age 51, he was dead. It made me very sad, naturally, but the circumstances really pissed me off. I could have vented unfairly I guess – the Doctor who took the first biopsy left the results on his desk for two weeks before calling my Father.

But that’s not what killed my Father. He worked hard in the sun, was exposed to various industrial chemicals and particulate matter, and smoke and drank quite a lot more than one should.

Contrast this with my Grandmother’s death later in the same year. 93! And she went out on her own terms! Knowing she was going to pass away soon, she went out and visited her grandchildren to make sure they were doing alright, placed her last bet on the horses, won, then quietly passed away with dignity.

You don’t get too many passings like that in life.

Two years later, my Uncle Den had decided with my Aunt, that they were going to retire. They worked hard all their lives to get where they were, really having to scrape the barrel at some points – especially back in the 1980s when they were paying off their housing loan. But eventually they made it.

Den was a top bloke. Everyone thought he was. He was a reliable best mate to his friends and he was exceptionally supportive to everyone when my Father passed away.

Later the same day that my Uncle Den had settled on his retirement, he drove back to the city, got home and collapsed on the floor and was unable to be revived. Nobody to blame, but still utter f**king bulls**t.

I was sad at his passing, but more than that I was angry. He deserved to live on more than many who do.

There’s nobody and nothing that you can smash to bring them back. You want to fight to protect or bring back your loved ones, but you can’t. I f**king hate it.

There have been other deaths in the past few years. And near deaths. And incidences of terminal illness. But the bad ones stick in your mind.

Right now I’m pissed off.

At around the same time that my Father was diagnosed with cancer, so was another Aunt of mine. She was given five years to live and she outlived it by a couple of years, her cancer going into remission.

The other day she went into the Royal Adelaide Hospital for a visit (things not going too well in the past few weeks) and contracted Swine Flu. A couple of hours ago she passed away.

I don’t as yet feel sad. Maybe I am and I just don’t feel it. But I am very f**king livid, as you can probably tell.

Seriously, for those who don’t go around blaming people (or things), how do you deal with this s**t?

~ Bruce

P.S. Don’t expect Death #2 until I calm down a bit. Which may take a while.

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8 thoughts on “Death #1

  1. That sucks. No wonder you feel angry.

    For a while I thought that perhaps we feel angry with ourselves. That irrational belief that we should have seen it coming and if we had we could have stopped it, or at least been able to say everything we wanted to say.

    Now, I’m not so sure.

    Anyway, I hope you feel a little less angry about it all as time goes on. How long it will take is anyone’s guess. Just let it out. / hippy

  2. Fucked if I know Bruce. I know when I found out Dad had cancer I just had a good cry. He’s in remission but It forced me to face my first real close death of a loved one.

    I started thinking about what I could do to help my mother. Don’t know if I felt anger?

  3. I don’t know that there’s consolation to be had for us rationalists. Just got to accept the reality of things.

    I know; not very helpful.

  4. I don’t know that there’s consolation to be had for us rationalists. Just got to accept the reality of things.

    Been reading Alain de Botton’s accounts of Seneca, by any chance?

  5. @ Michelle – “Just let it out.” It’s finding the appropriate outlet that’s the problem, I guess. I try to be mindful of not hurting people around me, but you can’t be sure all the safety measures are in place when you get worked up.

    @ Sean – I’ve had similar responses from others. I guess either I’m different or my environment is different (or we’re all different!!!) or something.

  6. How awful, Bruce. I would be angry too.

    My sister died from hospital stuff-ups — when she was 12, so a very long time ago, but you never forget.

  7. A useless, empty platitude I know – but I’m very sorry to hear of your loss.
    I don’t even know if it’s better to have said nothing at all. Sometimes cliches are all we have.

  8. Gee Neil, I’d be utterly traumatised if I lost one of my little brothers that young. Don’t think I could forget a bit of it. I’m not one to hold grudges, but I have difficulty forgetting bad things for some reason.

    @Shane – Sometimes platitudes and cliches are all we have – but some better than others. Celebrants tend to use the worst for some reason.

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