I saw my neighbor and her dog on Bruno’s walk this morning. We discussed dogs for a while, much like I suspect parents discuss their children. She asked the obligatory, “what do you do again?” I tell her I work in a skilled nursing facility and how it can be sad but also funny at times. She said she imagines it is a dark humor. Humor is important in anything, and I feel that I definitely have a different relationship with death. It is a subject, like race, that is very sensitive to the unfamiliar.
I am reading “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion right now. A perspective on grief, a portrait of relationships and intensely honest experience with death. She speaks about how death has somehow become professional. Death happens in hospitals and nursing homes, everywhere except homes. Didion quotes (of all people) Emily Post. Ms. Post is insightful and gracious, writing during a time when death was present in everyone’s home and family as a part of life. It was relevant. Most readers probably have stopped reading this because they don’t feel it is relevant to them. But Grief is relevant.
Grief from tangible death is something we will all experience, but living grief is perpetual. Whether you are grieving a relationship, an expectation or an innoncence; grief is ever-present. It should be spoken of, instead of avoiding the subject like it is “the-subject-that-must-not-be-named.” That only implies shame and fear. Death should have nothing to do with shame or fear.