Repost: Death and Pink Elephants

When it rains it pours.

Some months it seems as though we’re surrounded by sickness and death.  We know of someone, or someone we know knows of someone, who has been diagnosed with a terminal disease or has died.  And we murmur to ourselves or to those nearby “how sad”, “he was so young”.  And we’re thrown off for the rest of the day,

or the week,

or the month.

Why is death such a distraction?  When we’re reminded of our own mortality it’s like everything else is sucked from the room

except for one big clichéd pink elephant.

Those in the room fighting the urge to panic and leave.

For some adults, death means deliberately not forging relationships as a defense against suffering the heartache of losing someone they love and then being faced with the dilemma of having to replace what they’ve lost with someone else,

or will it be something else?  Not necessarily replacing the person- but filling the void.

The empty space.

But what if that space has never been filled?  What will fit?  Who will fit?

What exactly elicits our fear of death?  What are most of us afraid of?  The unknown?  The end of “it” all.  The loneliness of it all?  Maybe it’s because dying is the loneliest action we can experience- a journey we take completely and utterly alone?  Frightening, perhaps.

The curtain opens.  To be the one who opens that view between this world and the next.  What kind of job would that be

greeter of the afterlife.  Would you have to wear a mandatory blue vest complete with yellow button “Hello!  My name is _________”.  What would you do if people refused to enter or move from one world to the next?  And they were bigger than you and brawnier and tougher and could throw out the f-bombs like blows to the head.

But what if we view death as a child? Unable to comprehend inexistence in the abstract.  Maybe we wouldn’t be as frightened?

Innocence rather than ignorance being bliss.  Or in my experience, a childlike understanding of death being comforting in it’s simplicity.  Years ago my niece, who was then just three years old, answered the question “what happens when you die?” with words profound and certain and steeped in a truth that is as clearer than crystal:

“Your mommy comes and gets you.”

Of course she does.

And if we remember this, we are distracted no longer by the vulgar pink elephant that may be in the room.

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