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In which death intrudes on life

 

When I was growing up, I didn’t feel like I was exposed to death very often but now it seems likes it’s everywhere.

 

I was six when the first person I knew died.  He was the father of my babysitter and at the time he seemed incredibly old but looking back on it, he was probably only in his 40’s or 50’s.  The next time somebody close to me died I was 13 and he was 17.

 

He was an amazing kid and died of cancer and a huge number of people were at his funeral.  Around that same time a friend of mine’s father died but that was pretty much it.  Death was something that really had no impact on my life.

 

My children however, have been exposed to death on a much greater scale.  Beyond the fact that my parents died when they were young, Keely has lost two classmates. The first time she was in 8th grade and the child died in a car wreck; then the next year two of her classmate’s mothers died, and then another classmate died of an asthma attack.

 

To be honest, this was a LOT of death for such young kids to deal with and it’s a difficult concept to try to explain to a child.  Why is there so much more death now than when I was a kid?

 

I think some of it has to do with the fact that there are many, many more vehicles on the roads.  Back when I was a kid many families only had one car, maybe two.  Nowadays kids all have their own cars so naturally, the death toll has risen as the roads are more congested.  You certainly hear of so many more traffic fatalities than you used to.

 

I also think that more people are doing more extreme things.  The reason I’m bringing up this entire situation is because this weekend there was two deaths of teenagers in this community, one of whom directly affects the school where Daniel attends.

 

A child was killed, and two others injured, in a tubing accident on a nearby lake.  It was a tragic end to what was surely supposed to be a long and relaxing weekend.  All the kids involved were 9th graders at Daniels school so we received an email about it on Sunday.  Although I didn’t personally know the kids involved, the news deeply affected me.

 

As I was reading about it in the paper the next day, the article talked about another teen, 17 years old, who had died when his car crashed into an electrical pole.  Although neither he, nor the 4 passengers were injured in the wreck, he died when he got out of the car and touched the power line.  He was electrocuted, as was one other kid who didn’t die.

 

It made me realize how fragile we are and how tenuous our hold on life is.  As parents you worry and worry about how many things can go wrong but so often, it’s such an unexpected accident that takes the life of a youngster.

 

However, you can’t let the fear define you.  If you spend your life playing it safe and cautious, first of all there are no assurances that you’ll be okay and second, is it really living if you’re defined by fear?

 

No, I don’t think so.  I really just think that you need to appreciate who and what you have in your life while you have it.  After all, life is fragile and you never know when something will happen to those you love around you.  I’m going to give Daniel and gigantic hug when he gets home from school today because I’m sure there will be a memorial at school.

 

You can never hug your kids too much in my opinion.  I’m just saying …

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14 Comments

  1. Katja Brown
    September 20, 2011

    Amen sister!!!! Even though I am blessed with good genes (my grandfather just turned 92 years old and he’s doing fine), death hit close to home when my best friend in TX lost her husband after an operation. Before, I thought that it could only happen to other people. Now I realize that life is indeed fragile and I am trying not to sweat the small stuff!
    Katja Brown recently posted..The role of the stay at home momMy Profile

    • Lynn
      September 20, 2011

      yep…you’re lucky.. my parents were both in their 60′ s when they died

  2. Angel
    September 20, 2011

    Before I hit 30 I had buried almost all my family. In point of fact at my father’s bedside I told him; “it’s ok, you can let go. I am strong and I have a family. Of friends who will help.” For me 30 is a watershed moment. It’s all happiness now. Nothing left to lose! A lot of the death I have seen can be summed up to one thing. My folks had me late in life. But, it has given me a better grasp of how precious, and tenuous the links of life are. It drives me to focusing on the things and people who matter and makes me forge deeper than average connections with others. That in turn, however leads me to bafflement when people don’t take the connection seriously, because I feel like they may be missing something by only being linked to others in a superficial way.

    I feel like I ought to put a disclaimer here – if it don’t make sense – don’t worry – it’s me. I am a plague (flu) victim :)

    • Lynn
      September 20, 2011

      well, some people don’t need connections as much as others….it depends on what type of person you are

  3. Michele
    September 20, 2011

    I’m 47 and lost both of my parents within the last 3 years. My biological father passed when I was 12. My only brother when I was 24. My youngest nephew when I was 25. I lost my only aunt and oldest uncle and grandfather as well. Not to mention 6 teenagers when I was in high school. While not close, I did know them. I say this because my three daughters don’t understand the loss. They haven’t lost a single family member that they’re close to yet, and they’re 13, 15, and 19–My parents lived 2600 miles away and they rarely saw them–while I visited yearly.

    I kinda wonder sometimes if this is a bad thing? Is it harder to loose a loved one when you’re young or older? I don’t know. The losses I’m been through have ranged from so gut wrenching, I wanted to die as well, to what I guess you’d call a “normal” loss. Painful, but expected and possibly a blessing in disguise.

    What’s worse? Learning to deal with it when you’re young? Or merrily going along in your life and then BAM!

    • Lynn
      September 20, 2011

      I don’t know…i have had this discussion before and i don’t think there’s one set answer. Certainly, if you learn about death at a young age you realize that it’s a part of life. BUT, on the other hand…is it so bad to be innocent for as long as possible? I really don’t know.

  4. Lady Estrogen
    September 20, 2011

    I have been surrounded by death since I was born, and yet, I still am terrible dealing with it.
    I’m always saying inappropriate things due to nervousness, I guess.
    My mother is a champion when it comes to death – she even does bereavement counselling and organizes funerals.
    I don’t know how she does it – but I did NOT inherit that coping mechanism.
    Lady Estrogen recently posted..She Once BelievedMy Profile

    • Lynn
      September 20, 2011

      well…there’s no right or wrong way. i hate it… and i’m sick of it too

  5. Colleen - Mommy Always Wins
    September 20, 2011

    Death is certainly something difficult to help kids understand and cope with. Will have to make a point to hug my kids an extra time today just for this reason!

    • Lynn
      September 20, 2011

      never hurts to hug your kids…in my opinion

  6. Julie
    September 20, 2011

    I’m now sitting at my desk, watching the clock to see how much longer I’m stuck here until I can get home and kiss and squeeze my baby. The fact that she’s 19 and in college makes no matter ~ she will ALWAYS be my baby (probably because she is my only). I totally agree with you that you can never hug your kids too much.

    PS- Gearing up for basketball season yet? lol

    • Lynn
      September 20, 2011

      i know what you mean…just last week a college friend of my daughters, who was 21, died in an alcohol related car crash. you can NEVER hug them too much

  7. Theresa
    October 4, 2011

    My youngest was 19 when he was murdered. Its been 6 years now. But my daughter and other son still grieve deeply. As we all. What I don’t get is that people think like since a few years have passed, then we should over it…or whatever. My family still cries alot, all of us are still angry.
    My daughter feels awful because she had a fight with her little brother before we lost him. My son hurts because he wasn’t there to protect his little brother. Yes we have gone thru therapy …talked and talked. It didn’t help or take away the pain, etc.

    In 1 year we lost my son, a week later my hubby’s oldest brother..6 months later his father and 3 months later his mom. As a mom you want to take the pain away, but you can’t. But, we all learned alot stuff in life is bullshit, like that saying “Don’t sweat the small shit” is so true. Things that used to piss me off seems silly now.
    If you want to help someone who has lost a brother or sister or someone close to them, is to remember that they still hurt, and ask them once in awhile how they are doing with it. Especially during the holidays which are coming up. Don’t be embarrassed or shy thinking that it will upset them, they want to talk about memories and good times..and if we cry, then sit there and hold our hands while we cry. Because it helps so very much. I swear it.

    • Lynn
      October 4, 2011

      wow…i’m so sorry for your loss. I agree with you. You never get over it, you just learn to live with the pain. I can’t imagine something like that.

      People are so uncomfortable with death…i think that’s why they expect you to “get over it”. I still think about my parents EVERY day and it’s been 15 years.

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