“There are three deaths: the first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.” – David Eagleman
“One always dies too soon — or too late. And yet, life is there, finished: the line is drawn, and it must all be added up. You are nothing other than your life.” – Jean-Paul Sartre
Death is all around us. People take their own lives, get sick, get old. People face horrific crimes or are left for dead by others. Relationships end, which is another type of death. We retire, get laid off or fired from jobs, also equalling a professional death.
With so much loss and death, how do we wake up, smile or even productively work? How do we cope with death when it’s all around us, so much of the time? Do we live with fear? Do we make the most of our days and ignore it, happily naive?
I learned this week that one of my Gestalt training instructors, a beloved woman I’ve known for over a decade, died in February. Learning way too late that she was ill, hospitalized, dying and now dead makes me realize how far removed I’ve been from a community I once loved and valued so highly. Would my knowing any earlier have made her death easier? Probably not. But I would have felt more connected to a community of people who loved her as I did. You see, Jan was a warm, loving therapist and faculty member of a training organization. She loved dogs (she had 2-3 Rottweilers who competed in agility drills and won competitions!), had delightful stories about the “old days” when she was personally trained by the founder of Gestalt Therapy, Fritz Perls, and taught me how to give just enough support but not be overbearing with my clients. She loved to paint and lived in a modern/rustic house with that cool vibe you see on TV.
I also experienced another loss last week, and that was my little kitty, Nori. She went missing one night and has not returned. She barged out of the screen door when dusk was turning to night and I haven’t seen her since. I’ve placed signs everywhere, posted on different neighborhood apps, talked to people and walked every inch of the neighborhood. Nothing. I don’t know if she was taken by a coyote, walked off, or is in someone else’s possession. She’s the sweetest kitty and I’m devastated. Being in my apartment has been nearly impossible, as I hate walking in and not seeing her little face grinning at me.
If you remember, fourteen short months ago, my other kitty, Olive, died. When I got Nori, I was expecting a long life together, not this. I didn’t want this to happen. I can’t stop crying and wondering why this happened — but then I remember she’s an animal. Unfortunately, what if “curiosity killed the cat?”
Regardless, I’m tired of loss and death.
There. I said it.
When I was younger, I didn’t hear about as many people dying. Or, maybe I was too self-absorbed to feel the gravity of all these losses and deaths. Now, I hear about people from my past suffering, I see my own family members getting older, I worry about friends. My friends’ friends suffer or die and I feel their losses, too.
Death isn’t new, it’s just closer to me. I liked it better when I was naive and death was more distant. I liked when people felt fresh, vibrant and new, regardless of age. But as I age, so does everyone around me. Ailments appear out of nowhere now, worry creeps in that my time with people is limited. Simplicity now feels like something of the past, and yet I don’t want to be jaded or worried. I love the suspended reality feeling, like in the summer months or when I’m on vacation — nothing bad can happen to the people or animals I love and we’re free from the hardships of the world. Instead, death and loss seem to show up more often and last longer.
What’s another way to think about this, I have to ask myself? A self-proclaimed existentialist, I can also pose the question: what can I learn from death and loss? I have to ask this in order to keep going.
Philosopher Martin Heidegger wrote “if I take death into my life, acknowledge it, and face it squarely, I will free myself from the anxiety of death and the pettiness of life – and only then will I be free to become myself.” This feels somewhat comforting to me. I think when we talk about death, we are actually talking about life and how we live. Are we finding the most meaning in our days, in our professions, in our relationships? Do we feel fulfilled more of the time than not?
They always say, “hold onto the ones you love.” How true. Here’s a reminder to myself that life is to be lived, not put on hold.
“One is still what one is going to cease to be and already what one is going to become. One lives one’s death, one dies one’s life.” – Jean-Paul Sartre
Come back, Nori. Rest In Power, Jan.
Nori played in the dirt right outside my door. She also loved sitting on the wall and observing life from the patio. When she was super tired, she slept with her tongue out. These tongue pictures were fun to capture.
Nori sometimes slept with her tongue out.
For more information on working with me, please email me. Other tributes and conversations about loss: Dinner With Schwartzie, In Memory of My Kitty, Olive and The Short and Long Game of Happiness and Meaning.
13 thoughts on “I’m Tired of Death”
I’m so sad and sorry you lost yet another friend. My lesson is to love everyday as if it’s the last day you’ll see anyone again. Give Love and express as much as you can. The wind blows strong and fast somedays and only the young and blessed get blown away.
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Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, having that attitude is so important and it’s crucial to remember — but can be tough when other frustrations pop up.
Try watching Kim slowly die for over six years.
Sorry about your loss! It is difficult. The only wish we can have is for death to be swift and not painful for ourselves and our loved ones. We also need to be remembered and remember the memories that are left when passing. It is the way of life and everything has a reason, there is a plan for everything that is on earth. It is just sad to say goodbye when it is too soon.
Erik, Thank you for your sympathy and empathy. I appreciate your view on this matter–very realistic and thoughtful.
I’m so sorry to hear about Nori. She is a gorgeous kitty. Hopefully she’s just taking a vacation and will return. xx
Thank you so much, Lauren. I’m really sad. I’ve missed you!
I am so sorry for your loss. It may sound cliché, but it will get better. They say love is always on time. I think that death is too. We all have a purpose in this life. Some of us live a very short life and we will never know why the good ones go so soon. Martin Heidegger nailed it. We must accept that death is inevitable and although it scares the daylight out of me, I am content with knowing I will in fact leave a legacy behind. Little or large, I will be remembered. There’s more to life than death, and we shouldn’t think about the latter so often. Great post.
Wow thank you. I’m mostly disappointed that my kitty hasn’t returned. Jan, my teacher, lived a long, productive life. But little Nori is/was so young. I agree that death is on time. You raise a wise point on that one. Idk of Nori will ever come back but I sure hope so. I miss her.
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You are so welcome! I’m happy I helped you see it in a positive way. I’m sorry about your kitty I will keep her in my thoughts. 😦
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