Friday, January 31, 2014

Stoic

My Grandma passed away recently.  It hasn't been a month yet, but I still haven't even cried about it.  I acknowledged the loss publicly and said little else about it.  I met with a friend a few days later, and they asked how I was doing and told me I was being rather stoic about it.

Stoic.

I've never used that word to describe myself, or anyone else.  I still don't know how I feel about it.

There are some members of my family that claim stoicism is a Scandinavian trait.   Much of my makeup is Scandinavian, so perhaps it is just one of those things.  My first memory of loss was the death of my paternal grandmother who passed when I was eight years old.  My own father's sudden death when I was 14, a number of losses since then including two classmates my senior year, and having spent some time training to be a Nursing Assistant might have something more to do with my seemingly insensitive reaction to death.

The feeling I find most significant after a death is that moment in the middle of your grief and mourning when you look around at the rest of the world, and life is still happening.  Everyone goes about their business without even so much as a hiccup while inside of you there is nothing but turbulence and all you can do is sit and watch until the next wave of grief overcomes you.  It isn't that I don't grieve.  I am not without feelings or tears.  I've known depression after the loss of someone I love.  I know how it feels when someone close to you dies suddenly.  While I understand that everyone grieves in their own way, I suspect others find me to be apathetic because I don't mourn the way others seem to.

Perhaps I'm not the most comforting person.  I am uncomfortable initiating physical contact with people I do not have close personal relationships with; I'm not opposed to it and I quite enjoy it, but I don't reach out to people.  When someone close to me experiences a loss, I am left at a complete and total loss of words and not because I don't have anything to say.  More often than not, I feel like I end up saying something inadequate because I remember all of the "sympathetic" things people said to me when my father died and I make it a point not to say those trite, cliche things that are meant to comfort but exacerbate the emotional wound.  I despise watching people use religion based condolences to try and comfort someone who doesn't believe or is another faith.  Unfortunately, I can't really judge because even with my comprehension and compassion for the situation all I usually manage is to mumble a feeble and utterly generic "I'm sorry for your loss".

I'm not really afraid of dying; I'm afraid of what comes after dying.  I'm afraid that  I'll die not having accomplished anything, or that I will have died not really being loved by someone else.  I want a expensive long obituary, not six sentences with my name, dates of birth/death, and where the service is being held.  I'm literally terrified that when I die, there will be no one there to mourn me because I've spent my entire life being misunderstood.  That, on the day of my funeral, it will be proven that in life and death I truly was unlovable.   Or worse, that everyone who shows for my final send off will be scenic mourners who spent the majority of years prior to my death having nothing to do with me.

I firmly believe weddings and funerals bring out the best and worst in people, and I've been to enough such events to know.  As a result, I detest ridiculous antics, and one-upmanship at funerals in the name of mourning.  If I died tomorrow, would my stories, the details of my life and the things I've written on social media and here on my blog be used be someone to convey a close, personal relationship with me that we didn't have?

I've spent a lot of time this week thinking about ageing, mourning, and death, especially because I feel like my acceptance of death as a natural process and the only thing we're guaranteed in this life is disturbing to others.  My intent is not to be flippant or disrespectful about it.  While what I'm saying right now and my use of words like "dead", "die", "died", and "dying" might seem that way, but it is not because I am without compassion or feeling.  I am confused by people who act as though someone who has lived a long, full life has no right to die.  Losing someone is sad, but you can't reasonably expect people to live forever.  Surely I cannot be the only person who feels this way?

 Perhaps this is my way of addressing my own fears about my mortality.    The truth is, I'm not afraid of dying...I'm afraid of what dying would reveal about who I am, or should I say was?  I'm struggling with mourning right now because I'm struggling with life.  I'm afraid if I start, there will be an emotional snowball and I won't be able to stop rolling downhill.

I guess until the time is right, I'll just have to remain Stoic.


1 comment:

  1. Only been called stoic once in my life and it was because I was terrified beyond words, action or feeling. Truth.

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