Death…the slippery slope

I’ve been on hiatus…not because I decided to go on hiatus, but because life and all of its surprises took over and time…that elusive, fleeting stuff…got away from me before I could do anything about it.
Don’t know how many of you have been touched by death, but no matter how or when it comes, no one is ever ready for it…even if you’re praying for it. And when you’re one of the survivors…worse yet, a relative by marriage…what are you to do? How do you comfort? What do you say? What the hell is there to say that hasn’t been said or heard before? The frustration of wanting the pain to go away for those left behind is palpable and can render you feeling useless and feeling frozen.
A death in my extended family during the month of August, reminded me…on many, many levels, just how short and precious our lives really are and how it’s the small every day moments we remember about a person, that can be as large and wondrous as a full moon, when you realize they’re gone. Really gone.
So, I’ve been in a sort of state of limbo trying to do and say the right things, do anything that might soften some of the sorrow or grief for those most effected by this anticipated, yet still shocking death of a beloved mother, grandmother, friend, etc.
And now that we’ve all gotten back to the business of first days of school, gearing up for fall, football, or whatever floats your boat and takes up your time, it’s still nagging at me that a few of the people left behind, are experiencing those sneaky waves of sorrow that slip up on you from out of nowhere and pull you down into the heavy weight of memories and the realization that the one you love is gone…just gone. And that in the end you were powerless to do a damned thing to keep death at bay… as were all of us.
So, that’s what’s been going on for me and I’m still trying to make sense of it all…The swirl of emotions I felt witnessing family and friends endure the official  goodbye and all the rituals that go with relinquishing a soul, or the memory of the way my heart seized up when my dear loved one gasped and let out a primal cry when she got the news that her mother wouldn’t make it through the night and how that call  brought up memories of a heartbreaking loss of my own…and now the impotence I feel, fumbling around trying to comfort those left suffering. The ones fighting the reality, that when it comes right down to it, their beloved is never coming back.

Have you been through this? How do you handle death when it’s close or distant or you’re just the person who has to watch,  trying to figure out what to do or say to make any of it better…because, let’s face it…what could? Is there really anything any one of us can say that’s going to miraculously make it all make sense…wrap death up in a neat little package we can all understand? I can’t.  I’m at a loss…completely clueless…and yet I stumble on-making one attempt after another to try, finally deciding the thing to do is throw out a verbal life line to let my little brother’s wife, my broken hearted friend, know I’m here—if and when she’s ready. Not that I can make her sorrow go away, change it, or cloak her with joy and a carefree spirit…but, hopefully keep her tethered to now… be someone safe to weep, scream and bitch with… or sit silently…contemplating the vastness of a full moon and the realization that we all  know so little about anything when it comes right down to it, and how there’s a freedom in that, as well as a sense of futility. Like death.
So, is there a right and proper way to comfort, provide solace…or make the hurting for those left behind any easier without sounding or acting cliche or downright irritating? I long to know. I really do.
So now you know why I’m a bad blogger-absent with no explanation until now.  My heart and soul’s been focused elsewhere…
Have you been there? Is any of this familiar? Please share.


9 responses to “Death…the slippery slope

  1. So sorry to hear about the loss of your loved one. I don’t think there’s really anything to say that will ever take away the pain at times like these – all you can do is let the people you care about know that you’re there for them, and it sounds like you’re already doing that brilliantly. When my mum died (relatively young) I found a lot of comfort in talking about our memories of her – it kept her with us somehow; but of course that might not work for everyone.

    Hope you’re also finding your own sources of support.


    • I’m sorry for you for the loss of your mother…and I think you’re right about just trying to let everyone know I’m here if they need me. It feels so cliche to say it, but, really it’s all I can do, isn’t it? Thank you for your reassurance and the very thoughtful concern about me…It has been hard…the loss, the sadness, and the weight of wanting to take everyone’s hurt away…it surely takes a toll. Perhaps that’s why I haven’t been able to write for awhile…
      Thanks for your kind words.


  2. Robin, Not sure if you remember my beloved friend Eddy. He passed away last week after suffering from a brain hemorrhage at 50. Hard to believe I will never see or speak with him again. So sad….. hope to see you soon.


    • Oh no! Of course I remember Eddy! I’m so sorry. So young. I can’t believe it. Was he still in Miami? Oh my gosh, this is so sad. 😦
      miss you


      • Yes he was still in Miami. It is sad, kind of makes me feel better knowing you remember him. I miss you too and think of you often! Fall is so beautiful in New England…. hint hint


  3. Being writers I suppose we believe it mandatory to say something unique or profound. That’s our problem, not the bereaved. Kind, heartfelt words, though seemingly commonplace, go a long way to temporarily diverting the pain.

    What may be more meaningful is to make contact in a month or so and then maybe again some time afterwards — just to touch base. I do this with those who may appreciate knowing someone still cares how they feel even though the ceremonies are over. Brief conversations or lending an ear to mundane concerns that others no longer bother to hear convey the sincere sentiments initially offered.

    I am sorry for your loss,


    • Vikki-what a great observation about the self imposed expectation that perhaps because we’re writers we feel we should come up with something über profound to do or say. I’m sure that’s been part of the equation for me and the inability to do so. But I think the continued contact and checking in on a regular basis is a good idea and I plan to do just so. Thanks for the wise advice and the thoughtful reminder.


  4. Pingback: somedayi » “Death…the slippery slope” from The Restless Raconteur·

  5. Your articulate expression is much appreciated. My Dad died 7 months ago and yesterday I still shed a few tears for him. I wrote a couple of blog posts about him ( and through it and other bereavements I have learned the simple act of a hug or just being with a person is hugely helpful. Allowing others to comfort you and to help is also good. We must learn to accept love as well as to give it. I agree with Robin (above), thank you for the wise and thoughtful reminder… and hugs to you and those who are grieving.


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