a post on the subject of death

This post has been written a bit in advance so today is not today today ;)

Today I told my coworker about Mom’s death last year and even though I offered the information freely and had absolutely no problem with it at all, she immediately apologised for asking, which she hadn’t even done. This has not been the first time I noticed this or something similar. Talking about death in the family usually shuts people up, it’s a blessing and a curse.

I may be an odd example because I probably spent way too much time of my life thinking about death, what happens to me after I’m gone, how my announcement in the paper should look like, what kind of burial I want and so on. I attribute this to all the crime novels I read while growing up. Death to me is a conversational topic like the weather but this isn’t the case for a lot of people. And I can’t help but wonder if I’m the odd one our or the others are just too stuck up.

In seventh grade my teacher called my mom to talk to her about my suicidal thoughts which came to her and me as a shock. I had never even thought about suicide and to this day have not considered it unless I catch a terminal illness. It took me a while to convince my mom that I wasn’t at any risk because telling the truth apparently wasn’t enough. And maybe I am just a weirdly morbid person but death is not a tabu for me in conversations. It’s a part of life, like losing your baby teeth and growing body hair.

Sometimes I read things and think: Oh, this would be an interesting way to murder someone in a book. My new job is not helping because I see all these possible hazards and risks. When I can’t fall asleep I progressed from counting backwards form 100 to counting like this: 1 post mortem trauma, 2 post mortem trauma… because it’s a calming thing to say, not because of the death aspect but the words are long enough and…it just works for me.

I suppose people feel this is too personal a subject for it do be discussed publicly or why else do so many have a problem with talking about it? Maybe it’s difficult to tell what the other person is thinking/feeling about it which makes reacting so much more difficult or maybe, I am just a big weirdo. I can’t discuss make up like a proper girl, but I can tell you what I want my funeral to be like and what my death announcement should look like. Ahem. Yeah, maybe I’m not normal but I do wish people in general could discuss death more openly. It happens to everyone. Every person’s life gets touched by it sooner or later and not just when they are reminded of their own mortality. Friends, family members, neighbours, these people die and it’s normal. We as a people can talk about violence and sex on a daily basis, TV shows and movies are full of it but the thought of discussing one’s own mortality or that of another person is somewhat frowned upon. Why?

Sometimes, I actually enjoy this quality though, when you can just use it to silence people. I had to cancel subscriptions and such lately and when you say the magic word ‘death’, things get easier and nobody asks further questions because the other person gets all flustered with this uncomfortable truth.

What do you think, can you talk about death or is it something that makes you uncomfortable?

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  • EmilyHornburg

    I have a weird relationship with death. I grew up living over a funeral home (my dad owned it, he was a funeral director) so it was just part of life. I literally grew up seeing dead people every day. But now, it’s weird. I get sad, but I don’t mourn. When people die, I’m the worst person to go to. I have no idea what to say or do. I’m sad for the people and everything, but I have no clue how to react. Usually I’m just like “Oh… that’s sad. What’s for lunch?” Then I feel guilty. So… yeah… I’m not uncomfortable with death, but I am. It’s weird.

    • Vanessa

      I feel the same guilt a lot too. Like ‘sorry I’m not reacting in the right way and mourning long enough.’

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      I don’t think anyone really knows how to react, there is no right way to handle this but I’m also a person who has absolutely no problem discussing any parts of death. What I realised though is that a lot of people don’t feel comfortable just talking about it, even if it’s not about a specific person but dying in general.

  • Vanessa

    I never really thought about how death isn’t really a topic of conversation before reading this, but you’re right. If anything it usually just gets brought up when someone has passed away, and in pretty standard ways. ‘Oh that’s sad, but when I go I want to go like that.’ (or not, depending on if the person died in their sleep or whatever) I don’t usually have a problem talking about death, at least I don’t think I do.

    Having dealt with death seemingly a lot growing up, with people dying of different causes and at different ages, I always think I’m probably a bit numb to it. Like I feel sad for family/friends but it doesn’t seem to affect me as much, overall (with some exceptions obviously). Whatever I say to try and offer comfort always seems fake, I think just because there never seems to be anything that CAN be said to make the situation easier. It’s a part of life that everyone deals with in their own way, so the standard answers/comments seem to ring false. Maybe that’s why people have such a hard time talking about it? Because it’s awkward?

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      Of course it’s awkward and there is not one right thing to say but death and dying is also a conversational topic for me, or could be with the right people. Like you, I am numb in a lot of ways, so maybe that’s it.

  • cupitonians

    People think I’m morbid because I talk about it so naturally – erm, it is natural and it is okay to talk about it. I often say goodbye to my brother at the doorstep and tell him I love him, you know, just in case something happened. And in case it did, to burn all my journals. He laughs about how he’s going to make millions by publishing them. We’ve discussed at length what we want done to our bodies, how our wake is going to be etc. If it is inevitable, why not plan for it? What is so wrong about thinking about a natural stage of life? I see what you mean and no, you’re not alone!

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      Very reassuring! Bestfriendboy and I often times say goodbye wishing each other a nice evening of one’s life.