Death is Relative

My dad died seventeen years ago. I was twenty-seven. Since his death, I have gotten married, earned a law degree, birthed four children, and written over a million words. When I hear people express sadness over the death of someone in their eighties or nineties, I know their pain is real, yet I also know they had the benefit of decades “more time” with their loved one as I did with my father.

When my sister and her husband stood witness to the death of their infant who spent only three and a half months in their physical presence, the relativism of death was reframed for me. The loss of my father to me was redefined through the loss of Sonne.

And now this morning, I have learned of the death of man who lived in my small town with his wife and four children. Our families’ lives have intersected from time to time; their children have shared teachers, soccer fields and swings with mine. There are not many families of six where I live. That fact alone put our families into the same category.

While I understand what it feels like to lose a loved one to illness, I cannot begin to know how much grief and confusion this family is feeling now in the wake of the loss of a kind and loving father and husband.

As relative as death is for me, I will never grow accustomed to the shock of it all. Why something which awaits us all should continue to set me back on my heels when I learn of it makes me realize how quickly life can go from predictable to unknown.

My thoughts are with the mother and her four babies who,while they will be able to know their father through their memories and stories of his life, have been robbed of the opportunity of his presence. Although they were able to have him with them for the years they did, his death came too soon.

8 thoughts on “Death is Relative

  1. I have no idea who this man is, and yet I have tears in my eyes just thinking about his wife and children having to face life without him.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I lost my father at 15 and my mother just last year. My dad’s passing was swift, a heart attack and my mother’s passing was a long slow decline. Bother are equally awful, but the loss of my dad when I was so young made me fearful of losses of any kind. Don’t know who the family is, but will keep them in my prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry for your losses, Liza. Why we are not trained as humans to be “better” at this is a mystery to me. Perhaps culturally we’d “rather not” think about/discuss/ponder death despite the reality of its eventually for all of us.

      It’s hard to know the “right” way to feel or offer support when the idea is so frightening for so many. It’s a challenge teaching children about it. It’s incomprehensible to be of true comfort.

      I suppose the best way, for me, is to just be present in the reflection of a life lived–without assessment and without appraisal. And yet, I can’t help but feel the enormity, permanence, and grief in all of it.


  3. I am lucky enough to have both my parents still alive, but have such a fear of their passing now that I am 3500 miles. I have faith of an eternal plan and know we will join again with family and friends but that still doesn’t take the sting out of death. Stay strong!

    Liked by 1 person

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