Wednesday, January 23, 2013

An Homage to a Life

It's never easy when someone you love passes on.

The story is complicated and very personal, so I won't go into too much detail here, but this is something that I really want to talk about.  Need to talk about, even.

My Uncle struggled with his health for over three years.  Troubles with his breathing, troubles with his brain, troubles with his heart... he spent years in and out of hospitals, struggling to be healthy and to live as normal of a life as possible.  But only last week, my family and I were told that things weren't looking so good.  We were hopeful, but I think we were also preparing for the worst case scenario.  We received updates from my grandpa about every other day, or at least as news came in, which everyone really appreciated, I think.

On a Friday night, I went and visited my Uncle in the hospital.  He was more broken and unaware than I have ever seen him before.  I cried gigantic tears and my mom and I held each other through the time we were there, however brief it was.

Sunday, I was at the mall with my boyfriend and we were on the train about to head home when my mom called and told me that the decision that was made was the the breathing tubes would be disconnected and my Uncle would be allowed to go on his own, whenever his body let him.  I tried not to cry on the phone, but as soon as I got off, they fell again and I think my boyfriend had an idea what was going on.  He just held me.

We finished our shopping and went back to my boyfriend's dorm where we played games and hung out for a while.  Not a few hours later, my mom sent a text and my sister contacted me as well.  My phone ran out of batteries, so I couldn't respond for a while.  As soon as I saw that my mom texted me, I knew they news I was going to receive.  So I didn't call her back, even though I probably should have.

When I talked to my sister who gave me the news, I really didn't know how to feel.  I had no more tears.  I was getting choked up, making sure my sister was okay, but I couldn't cry any more.  I sat in the middle of my boyfriend's dorm room just thinking.

It felt wrong for me not to feel more sad.  I should be crying, causing a scene... but I wasn't.

To receive the news that I was losing one of my favorite Uncles wasn't really a shock at all.  In my mind, I lost my Uncle 2-3 years ago; When problems started in his brain and his personality changed from the easy-going and very funny guy to someone completely unrecognizable.

This is what confuses me about my own grief: I don't seem to be grieving much at all.  I wasn't surprised to hear the news of his passing.  I was relieved, in a way.  He was out of his misery and this whole nightmare of a situation was over.  I was more sad thinking about how my dad and other Uncle had just lost another brother and how my grandparents had just lost another son.

My mom put up a picture of him on Facebook from a time when he was relatively happy and he was our happy, smiling Uncle again.  There were a billion messages saying 'my condolences' or 'I'm sorry for your loss' or other similar sentiments.  It's a nice thought, but those messages succeeded in nothing else but making me mad.  I don't think these people quite understand, even if my mom kept them all updated on my Uncle's status.  It's easy to feel misunderstood.  But then my neighbor got on and was talking about celebrating his life and what we as a family remembered about him.  Another lady who had lost her husband to a terminal illness advised us to just remember the wonderful times we had with him and make sure to take care of ourselves too.  These comments made me feel much, much better and it kind of explained why those supposed to be comforting comments were so upsetting to me.  They were so negative and sad when I don't feel that my Uncle's death was such a negative thing and not entirely sad either (though it still is a little sad).  He was not going to get better.  I believe the doctors gave us a 0% statistic for his recovery, or something hovering around that number.

I think I'm adopting a new philosophy about funerals and death.  Funerals need to be a time to remember.  It needs to be a way to accept what happened, get some closure, and start to move on.  I don't think that it's a real enough expectation for people to not be sad, but I feel like funerals need to be a bit more positive-- less morose and downtrodden.

I think that this is a post I really needed to write, so if you've read through this entire thing, thank you very, very much.  I'd like to hear your thoughts and stories about death, dying, and funerals, if you're willing to share with me.

Thanks for Reading!

--Jude

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