This week something happened. A man was sitting in ICU keeping his mother company as she died. This happens every day around the world, but what was different this time was that the person was Scott Simon and since he is a journalist, he tweeted his story and people listened. (see his tweets here: https://twitter.com/@nprscottsimon) When I say people listened, I mean they LISTENED. 1.2 million twitter followers listened to him.
Today, in the media, we have a discussion about death. People are talking about how death and dying is something that is now out of the public eye and pretty much ignored. It's true. People don't talk about it. Death happens. The fact that we are talking is fantastic and quite frankly about time. Two generations ago, people died at home. They died in their communities and their communities took care of them. The churches and schools, they KNEW when someone died and they reached out in comfort afterwards. Today, our tolerance for the messy parts of life is as short as the news cycle. My thoughts were exactly that it is about time we start talking about this and then we need to talk about what happens AFTER someone dies.
For every person that dies, there are, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, siblings, extended family and friends that are left behind. When that person takes their last breath, the world for those of us left here changes FOREVER. For some who did not know the person well, life moves on pretty quickly, and they stop talking about the person and they may even forget them. They wonder why the wife or mother of their friend is still crying weeks or months or years later.
For those closest to them, it is a CATASTROPHIC and SEISMIC shift in their lives. Many of us live that every day. In saying this, I do not mean that life is bad (although sometimes it is) I am saying that life is different. That we go through everyday changed by love and loss. Our grief permeates our lives and becomes a part of who we are. We are the women who watched our husbands die. We are the only parents. We are the ones left behind.
There are plenty of people out there that use twitter, Facebook and other communities to connect to others in their grief. The fact that national media is entertaining a discussion on grief and grieving is due to the fact that Mr. Simon reached out and connected. He is one of us. We connect after everyone has gone home, and after the rest of the world moves on.
It has been five years since the car accident. I still love Robert-I suspect that I always will. I still miss him. But my life is good. I do good, I am good. In that good, there is grief. The cold grip that chokes me every so often and reminds me of what I lost and what happened. It reminds me at the most inopportune times that bad things DO HAPPEN to GOOD people.
I sincerely hope that we as a nation and as a world can start to talk about not only death and dying, but the aftermath. The strength that people discover in themselves. Maybe in talking, we will bring conversation back to people and connect again in person and learn that in fact, even though we go through tragedy, we do in fact go on to have a good life. In the middle, the messy depths of grief, we need to know that feeling is temporary and perhaps Mr. Simon will continue to talk and to share.