“We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always surprising when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.”
-Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler), The Reptile Room
I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot lately. I actually haven’t been able to get it out of my head. And that feeling, that sick feeling of ‘dark surprise’, well, I don’t think I could have explained it any better. And so inspiration for my latest post has occurred. And now I give to you a new list. A short list, but a list nonetheless. What to expect when you’re not expecting a death.
3. Financial burdens.
Funerals cost money. When somebody dies unexpectedly the survivors are left with a life ended in the peak of living. These circumstances were unseen, so more often than not the deceased has not gotten anything in order, from bills to be paid to money set aside for a burial. The survivors have to all of a sudden, come up with money to give their lost loved one a proper funeral. And depending on the funeral you wish to have it may be a couple thousands of dollars. And even after the funeral is over and done with the house, cars, bills and everything else in between has to be cleaned up.
2. Support from family and friends.
And maybe I should say this as well, support from family and friends based on love, and support from family and friends based on curiosity. When someone dies unexpectedly, especially young, people are curious as to what happened. If so-and-so wasn’t sick, and if the close family does not disclose what happened for whatever reason, people will talk. But you can’t blame them. We all do it. It’s unnatural for young people to die, whether their twenty-one or fifty-one, as a society we like to leave the dieing up to the old. So of course, our minds immediately go to the worst. Since so-and-so won’t say what so-and-so died from it must be shameful. But support they will show nonetheless because one of the hardest things to see is someone suffering. Most people want to help others. Some just don’t know how to do it. So we bring cards, we give money, we make food. We tell the survivors, “I’m sorry” and “If there is anything that you need please let me know” and “We’re here for you, even if you just need to talk to someone”. And if we don’t know what to say at all we hug. Physical touch to mentally let them know we care, we just can’t find the words to tell them.
I see it all the time. One day, you will be okay. The next day you will cry your eyes out. The following day you’ll be laughing thinking about the memories. And the day after that you will be so angry that something like this could happen to you. Does the five stages of grief come into play here? Some could argue yes while others argue no. You can’t measure grief. To lose someone unexpectedly is a road all it’s own. I think of Lemony Snicket a lot here because when I’ve thought I had that last step I found myself feeling sick, shocked and at the end I laughed at how stupid I could be for miscalculating. Don’t hide your emotions. Show them. Feel them. Be proud of them. You have these emotions because you deeply care about someone who is no longer with you. And if you feel numb at points please be certain that this is an emotion as well. Do not try to compare yourself to others going through a loss because this loss is all your own. But also know that you are never alone.