Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

Close Enough

I am nearly sick. Physically ill. Most people have the emotional depth and maturity of a potted plant.

Why is it OK for people to become flippant when they hear that an old person is near death?
Tell someone a parent is ill. Usually the first question is "why?', but the second is invariably "How old are they?" If a person is at or past a predetermined age, there is a big sigh. Perhaps a nod, or a shrug. The context, the hidden message is "It's OK that they're dying! They're OLD!"

No doubt, there are older people that have just worn their bodies out. They are done. Some look forward to the release death will provide.
BUT FOR GOD'S SAKE, NOT ALL OLD PEOPLE DESERVE TO DIE!
If these hollow, sad people with that belief were honest, they'd probably blubber about "quality of life" or "a burden on their family" or some such nonsense. Whatever your personal belief, some people are fighters. They have life left in them. It may not be the life you would prefer, but then again, it is not YOUR life. Just assuming that a human being has a shelf life like a can of beans is asinine and inhuman.

Next time someone tells you that a grandparent, parent or other older relative is ill, check yourself. Don't be an ass. The soul you save may be your own.

Comments

Agreed went through that experience. But try to help improve the mental health of the people around you because people who don't identify with mental illness don't see how sad people can become even themselves if fighting depression. Depression is a silent illness. My eldest family member died recently (my grandfather who got to be 91), and I had to see how detached people behaved to the most affected and grieving. My grandmother and aunt. It was sad, but at least people can be consoled. That's what matters the most. Show that you care for them.
 
Glasshouse,
my brother lost a daughter at birth some years ago and it seemed to him as though he'd been totally ostracised. The truth being that people/friends/family were hurting for him but didn't know how to deal with the situation. It's difficult.
 
Winston,
I'm at an age where i keep hearing of people dying and they're all younger than me, if you live to see eighty let's say, well hey! You haven't done so bad.

Had been thinking about posting a blog regarding my thoughts on my own mortality but thought better of it.
 
I'm sorry to hear you aren't feeling so well, but I do hope you get better! I hope your wife and kids are supportive of you at least. I'd expect less of other people, that way you're pleasantly surprised.

There's nothing wrong with being realistic, and acknowledging that it comes with the territory of old age. However, that ought not be a way to completely dismiss somebody - especially a family member - who deserves to spend as long as they wish here. I think also, that it can be a tough position to keep somebody alive, even though you know they're not really living.

Personally, death has always been a little weird for me. My grandparents passed away on my dad's side several years ago, one due to mental illness and the other a lifetime of smoking. My dad's sister basically did her best to disown everybody else. She ended up taking advantage of them, stole from them, sold their belongings, and took just about everything when they died. If it wasn't for my dad and his other sister, she would've just taken everything for personal gain.

Don't want to make this response longer than it already is. But my point is that my experience with other people dying has been dysfunctional at best. All I got to see is people steal their belongings, disown one another, let family feuds and bad blood get in the way of coming together for the sake of somebody's last-dying-wish, and see people make a multitude of mind-numbing, incomprehensible decisions.

And then two days after the funeral, 90% of everybody has completely moved on. It's almost like, "Oh! That's right! So and so just died. Wow... still can't believe that." That's life though I guess, and maybe for the better. If we never learned to cope with death, we wouldn't be here right now. You get it all out, all your feelings, and regrets, and grief, so that all you have left are the good memories to cherish, and the important lessons of life.
 
It's difficult, and in modern life in place of pointers as to how to manage the situation, there seem to be mostly faux-inspirational stories of how other families came together to handle it all in the most heartwarming way, none of which I personally feel able to relate to. My mother died 2 and a half years ago of cancer and my sister and I were with her up to the end but it wasn't easy. There was no great outpouring of honesty and warmth. We had always been close and did get along very well but latterly in a bit of an emotionally dysfunctional way, where no-one seemed able to say how they were feeling, for fear of mockery, estrangement, starting an argument, raised eyebrows and sideways looks and so on, to the point where you don't even want to bother any more. Add to that a sense of having lost her to the tabloids about ten years earlier. Mind you we covered it all up quite admirably, and mother really came into her own comedically after her diagnosis.

Why am I saying this? To illustrate that many people don't know how to deal with death and grieving, or even to support those that are dealing with it, and that that's ok. It's not flippancy, not really. Nor is it a sign of a hollow and sad personality or, heaven forfend, being an ass. It comes from a good place with limited experience. The world is populated with emotionally imperfect people.
 
bdcharles;bt8583 said:
...Why am I saying this? To illustrate that many people don't know how to deal with death and grieving, or even to support those that are dealing with it, and that that's ok. It's not flippancy, not really. Nor is it a sign of a hollow and sad personality or, heaven forfend, being an ass. It comes from a good place with limited experience. The world is populated with emotionally imperfect people.

I appreciate your point, but it really is about hypocrisy.

People have no problem espousing grief and heartfelt condolences when a young person dies (even more grandiose fawning for the famous). Even if the young adult is an idiot whose own actions contribute to their death. Like so many of these actors and musicians.

Contrast that to the older person that lead a virtuous, albeit "boring" life. The "limited experience" that allowed putrid, gushing praise for the young and famous is gone like all appearance of decency. The real issue is people can't fake caring. And they don't care. So they express disingenuous, clumsy condolences for Old Ordinary Joe. And weep rivers for the young and good looking departed.

Yes, the world is populated with emotionally imperfect people. It's also filled with callous hypocrites. The Ven diagram shows a lot of overlap.
 
We do have a shelf life. Everyone dies. It is tragic for the ones who care about the deceased and rarely for those outside of that sphere. It is futile to be angry at people because they don't possess a frame of reference to express their sympathy or empathy. This lack of a frame of reference is not callousness but simply poor coping skills.

Yes, people who die young or who are famous gain a bit more of a reaction from people. There are two reasons: early deaths are tragic because the person who died had potential and famous deaths gain tragedy because, for fans, those people belong to all of us.

I'm not saying this to argue with you, Winston, or to contradict you for the pleasure of it. I'm saying this because, after years of wondering the same thing I realized that allowing people to offer what emotional support they can--whether helpful or not--costs me nothing. Further, this can give them some measure of comfort to try and comfort those who are grieving.

I lost my brother at a young age. I finished high school and college knowing that no matter what I accomplish in my life that I will never live up to the potential my brother had for my parents. No matter how proud they were of me, my younger brother could have achieved more. I could be bitter over it or I could accept that and be the best I could be.
 
Winston;bt8585 said:
I appreciate your point, but it really is about hypocrisy.

People have no problem espousing grief and heartfelt condolences when a young person dies (even more grandiose fawning for the famous). Even if the young adult is an idiot whose own actions contribute to their death. Like so many of these actors and musicians.

Contrast that to the older person that lead a virtuous, albeit "boring" life. The "limited experience" that allowed putrid, gushing praise for the young and famous is gone like all appearance of decency. The real issue is people can't fake caring. And they don't care. So they express disingenuous, clumsy condolences for Old Ordinary Joe. And weep rivers for the young and good looking departed.

Yes, the world is populated with emotionally imperfect people. It's also filled with callous hypocrites. The Ven diagram shows a lot of overlap.

Mmm. I can't shake the notion that you are perhaps a little too overcynical. What you're describing is normal human nature, though of course callous hypocrites do exist too, and even within a typical selection of people there will be some degree of variance. When my sister's fiance died of a heart attack in his 30s she was in bits (and still is). I myself was pretty shaken up as he was, among other things, a good friend (we weren't mega close but close enough). When our mother died a year and a half later, she was in her late sixties and because of that it was more manageable because it is in line with more normal expectations. That's not to say I don't miss her - I do, every day - but the reality is that all humans die, and we do have notions about who can be expected to pass away first. I'm sorry if you are in this situation, and I really don't want to sound like some sort of social engineer but this is just how things appear to be, to me, irrespective of what I might feel about it. The idea that we should all hold every life totally sacrosanct and somehow untouchable is - well, I just don't get it, and I rarely see it played out in reality. I think that if we did that, we would probably not survive very long as a species becaues we'd never get over our mortality and have this unhealthy and avoidant relationship with death. It's the same sort of thing that makes the news media cover more of a local inident where, say, five people die, while seeming to overlook a larger one in a distant nation. People cry all sorts about that but to think that is to misunderstand how people's minds work, in my view.

Anyway I don't want to seem insensitive, particularly if you or anyone is in this situation, but I suppose I am somewhat driven to provide counterargument whenever I see normal human behaviour presented as a kind of of ill-intended callousness. I mean, we need more accord in the world, surely; more understanding, not less?
 
this life with all it's stuff has got to be better than a n eternal life in a heaven..smiling all day,week,year,decade,millenium....
 
From a college communication class many years ago; I forget the speaker's name or I would attribute properly:
"In the New York Times, the headline screamed in huge font, 'BLONDE FOUND DEAD IN CENTRAL PARK!'. A much smaller story below-the-fold read 'Thousands dead in Indian earthquake'.
I wonder what color hair those folks had
."

I got two words for you: JonBenet Ramsey. We are still enthralled by the death of this cute little blonde girl. Does anyone have any idea how many black and hispanic kids are killed every day in America? Maybe they're just not blonde enough to be noticed or cared about either.

And this connection many people have with performing buffoons... I surely do not get. Just because a person knows how to apply make-up and cry on demand means nothing to me. They lie on camera, pretending to be something they are not, and now their lives mean MORE? They bring nothing of substance to anyone's life, they just perform like a trained animal does.

No, next time you feel like shedding a tear for some pretty face, do what I've done for the last few years. Go to a convalescent / rehab facility and just look around. You'll notice a lot of good people, many slowly dying, and most with no visitors. You never talked to Carrie Fischer or Mary Tyler Moore. Despite what you tell yourself, you do not know them either. But you could show a REAL person that you give a shit. Instead of crocodile tears for spoiled Hollywood images you pray to.

We all have our biases. I don't see any more "potential" in some tap-dancing 6 year old beauty queen from Colorado than I do from anyone else. The amount of years ahead / behind a person, to me, is just quantum nonsense. The dystopian undertone that I get is that we need disintegration booths for all unattractive, average talent folks over a certain age. I will never buy that.

Every minute, every second we have matters. Just because one person is "robbed" of 60 years does not make another persons remaining two years, or two weeks, any less valuable.
 

Blog entry information

Author
Winston
Views
57
Comments
11
Last update

More entries in Creative Writing 101

Top