Sunday, September 16, 2007

I got a message from my best friend today. Her husband's cousin just 35, was going to meet his mom and it was late, he didn't want to drive as he was too sleepy so he decided to call a cab. On the way to the airport the taxi rammed into a stationary truck killing both.

She asked me how does a family deal with such a thing. I didn't know what to say.
This was my reply

Dear Bis
Death is so difficult for the ones left behind - it seems so arbitrary and sudden. I just don't know what to say - it's a concept that cannot be grasped as its not possible to experience it first then talk about it, at best it can just be mourned. I can't even begin to imagine what his mother must be going through. I am so sorry for the whole family.

It seems so senseless that we have to make plans when we don't even know about tomorrow. I think in that way human beings are really brave - noble even.

At first I used to think that we were arrogant to make plans when we didn't know what tomorrow could bring forth, but now I think we are courageous. God has put forth the most difficult task on our shoulders. He EXPECTS us to live, to make plans all the while knowing that all those plans can come to naught the next second.

My condolences again :(

So how do we do it?

Note: Death and the concept of death holds for people who don't believe in God as well - so what are your opinions?


QUASAR9 said...

Death of the flesh is inevitable, and to all intents and purposes random - well it seems random because it is often unexpected.

But hey, I guess we cannot regain the innocence of childhood where death was unknown to us and a million miles away.

Got no easy answer, got no soothing words, but sadness or sorrow are ... meaningless. And quite often death is preferable to suffering and chronic pain, at least for the sufferer.

As for those left behind, whether there's an afterlife or not, I guess we have to learn to let go. The things of the flesh have no meaning in the spirit, and if there is no spirit, the things of the flesh (love, lust, emotions, feelings,...) have no meaning and no place beyond the flesh

Titania Starlight said...

There is no easy answer. We each in time have to deal with it in our own way. I lost my grandmother and father in less then 24 hours. Her to cancer and him in a tragic car accident. In that same year my grandfather dies and then my uncles to yet again another car accident. Four family members in one year. It was the worse year of my life. The grief was overwhelming. Looking back each of us went through our own ways of mourning.

I did make it through and my life did change dramtically far as my spirituality.

Death is a very perosnl experience and looking back I do not recall what others said to console me. I stood in shock and pain.

The deep hurt will pass but that connection to those who have passed never will. They reside in our hearts. :o)

Far as my own death and I have thought of this, I want a happy send off. I am not sure how my family will take this. My beliefs are a bit different. I know I will live on and most likely be glad to start my next journey. They may cry and grieve but I want a big party afterwards and for my loved ones to recall all the good things I did. I know I am a weirdo. :o)

John said...

Your note was beautifully written. There are times when there is little that one can say. Too often people want to express thoughts that really serve little purpose and offer no solace. Sometimes the ministry of our presence or our friendship is the best that we can offer.

As for life, death and life after death--I am a believer in an afterlife. I believe in an eternal soul, in a heaven and hell, in a God who is Supreme.

The Bible says that we should always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is within us. While I greatly appreciate the invitation for comments, I'll not take up your blog to share my reasons.

Please offer my sympathy and my prayers to your friend and her family.

Rolando said...

It's a very sad way to go indeed. There are no words that can ease their pain.

The shock, the suddenness would be difficult to bear at first.

Not sure what God's reason was for taking them like that. Did God need a driver?

Sorry to hear of their loss.

Zakman said...

Hi Random

Agree with John here... that's a very touching note. I'm pretty sure Bis would get some solace reading it, 'cause a touch of philosophy goes a long way when it's time to look at life and death from a very broad point of view.

I've made a couple of posts dealing with unexpected loss of life:

'missing' feeling...

With Questions

I think that if Bis just looked inwards she will find the strength to understand and accept what happened.

keeyit said...

My uncle passed away recently.. After one year and three months battle with cancer, finally he released from his suffering and go in peace..He left us forever from now.. Death for him is a release.

Anonymous said...

never an easy thing especially when it is so unexpected. to live means to die... but when that time one knows. we are all on "borrowed" time. makes living each day as if it were our last, so much more important.

Bobby said...

Oh my, Amber, I am so sorry to hear this. We are born only knowing one thing, we will all die eventually.

My cousin, Tim, was diagnosed with cancer only a few months ago. The doctors said if his new treatment doesn't immediately help, he will die within 30 days. He is 40.

I will say this: I am not a Christian but I believe in God very strongly.

Amber, I love you as one of my best friends and I hope and pray for you and everyone involved. I'll be here for you as long as I'm alive on this big beautiful planet;)

Rambler said...

Time, Time alone can be the real healer.
and in most of these case, its good if the dear ones feel the sadness to the core, bottling up the sorrow might have more worse consequences

Bilbo said...

Your reply to your friend was wonderfully written. As I get older and see my friends begin to pass on, I think more about death...not with fear, but with a profound sense of regret for the things I won't have accomplished while alive. I'm not a traditionally religious person in the sense of John and many others, but I do believe that we are all part of a grand and unending scheme of the universe, and we'll all be back again sometime, somehow. It would be nice to think that a Hell awaits those who are evil, and a Heaven those who are just and good, but I'm just not sure what those concepts really mean. Someone once said that the key to life is knowing you won't get out of it you just need to do the best you can while you're here. Along with the Golden Rule, that's some good advice. Good luck! Bilbo.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Your note was wonderful, written with care and attention. Condolences to all.

Josie Two Shoes said...

I thought you did an amazing job with your note to your friend, Amber. She was not looking for explanations where there really are none to be offered, what you gave her was your understanding in how confusing the loss feels.

I so agree with you about the courage it takes to plan and hope for the future when we all know that our dreams can end in a moment.

The sting of death is all about the ones left behind, it is the ultimate release for the ones who have departed.

Greg said...

Without death, life wouldn't be worth living.

Amel's Realm said...

Ahhhh...well, but death is just a beginning of another life in heaven, not the end. :-))) I know we'll still be sad over the loss and grieving is necessary, but we shouldn't think that it's the end. After all, the person has stopped suffering on earth.

HollyGL said...

I am so sorry for your friend and her family's loss. How terribly difficult for those left behind. Your words were perfectly chosen, and obviously deeply felt.

As you know, I lost my mom to suicide when I was 18; my bio-dad in a car accident a year later; my step-dad to suicide when I was 22; and one of my best friends from hs to suicide at 23.

By the time I turned 26, all of my living relatives had died (my grammy was the only one left at that point), and I came to the incredibly vivid realization of how short life can be.

When I consider how I have been impacted by those losses, I have to acknowledge my frantic efforts to experience as much of life as possible, as many places, opportunities...

Though I do have many friendships that span many years, commitment is something I struggle with in other areas of my life because of this ingrained notion that life is so short, and we must live it as to the full as possible - whatever that means for each of us.

Well, I feel like I'm preaching. I guess what I want to say is that I greatly admire those who construct a life for themselves with every intention of a living a long time. Such an enormous amount of faith in one's survivability must accompany that.

I have never been very adept at it, but I do appreciate those who do it, as you say, with such courage. In that way, I have definitely been a coward.

paisley said...

i am puzzling over the same kind of questions myself right now... personally i do not fear death,, and some days would actually welcome it... but for those that are snatched away thru no fault of their own.. or burdened with illness when all they want to do is live.. i am at a loss for words.....

Random Magus said...

Quasar9: This has been a crazy month my own cousin passed away and that was too much of a shock to be able to express myself. It seemed like whatever I wrote could not express the enormity of the situation.

Titania Starlight: What a terrible ordeal it must have been for you. When I heard of my cousin's death the shock wouldn't register, it still hasn't - when I heard about my friends cousin in law I guess that's when it all hit. I myself am not afraid of death either I just want mine to be painless and peaceful.

John: It's so difficult to extend any kind of condolence without it sounding like a platitude - but sometimes the words just seem to come out without sounding like a mass production. These situations are so bad because you genuinely feel horrible but never seem to find the right words to express yourself.

Rolando: The irony of it all was that he was being responsible and not wanting to drive as he was tired and sleepy.

Random Magus said...

Hi. She just lost her father-in-law and now her cousin-in-law, her husband is quite devastated. Bis and I have been friend since we were 3. But now she lives in Las Vegas and myself in Dubai. So can't even meet her and hug her. She was messaging me about how sorry she was about my cousin when she found out about her husbands' cousins death.

I am very sorry for your loss. Sometimes death can be a release and sometimes a very difficult to understand, unfair trick.

We wouldn't be able to survive I guess if we didn't live under the illusion of our own immortality.

Oh Bobby - you are so sweet and kind. Thank you so much for such beautiful words. My cousin who died had cancer as well, they didn't tell anyone but it was a tumor which unfortunately was very malignant but the death was sudden - a cardiac arrest, she went in her sleep

rambler: My heart breaks for the ones left behind. I keep thinking of this guy's mother and how she must be feeling.

Blur Ting said...

Yes, it's hard to find words of consolation. I often say them knowing that I can never feel the loss as much as they are feeling. Yet, the only way to express is to be there to comfort them. You have convey yours appropriately.
Life is fragile and unpredictable. You can never plan what's ahead for you know not what to expect. Hence, seizing the moment has been my mantra all these years.

Random Magus said...

I believe in God and in heaven and hell. And a lot of times we create both for ourselves in this lifetime. I'll remember your advice.

Jean Luc Picard:
Thank you. I tried but I wonder how easy it is to accept this reality when it comes to our loved ones.

Josie Two Shoes:
I guess living would be impossible if we were to remember the fact of our death each moment. And more than our own it's the prospect of our loved ones dying that is truly scary.

How can we believe that without having experienced life without death?

Amel's Realm:
But this guy was just 35, he had his whole life in front of him!

How can you say you are a coward? To go through all of that and live, live to the fullest - that is courage my dear Steph!

So am I. My own cousin's mom - she is the one who was sick, she just got a stroke and in this year she first lost her son and now her daughter. It doesn't make sense, we can keep saying when our time's up it's up but when death looks at you so close you wonder how you are to deal with the possibility of someone you love being taken away from you so suddenly

Random Magus said...

blur ting:
Sometimes it's impossible especially when the situation is so cruel. I keep thinking of how much we leave unsaid how much we wait for tomorrow when we should be seizing the moment as you say aptly put it.

the domestic minx said...

What a beautiful note you wrote, Amber xx

I am physically shocked by this horrible turn of events, the apparently random events, that lead to this horrible eventuality..
Death like this is so sudden, so cruel, so unexpected, it is hard to see any point in what has happened - and yet we know each day that is a surety, an eventuality.
Sadly, I have just had a weekend where a series of horrendous events involving my own boys almost led to such a wretched conclusion.

Knowing that death can, quite literally, be just around the corner, should encourage us to lead full and meaningful lives, sharing love and joy with those we care for the most and living each day as if it were, indeed, our last.

B said...

some days are better than others sometimes you remember the good things and they make you smile other days you are distraught with grief - Life isn't easy and hopefully you surround yourself with people that make it easier and help you cope.

Greg said...

Random Magus, we face life without death every day we live. Eventually someone asks the clichéd question: What would you do if you knew you only had a few days do live?

The shadow of death is what prompts us to live. To answer that question with life. Death gives us a mandate to live. We are never more human than when death stands next to us, when it brushes across our cheek and leaves a tear, a memory, and a choice.

Amel's Realm said...

Yeah, I know...but still even babies who are born for a few days or hours die or even teenagers die in accidents or other tragic kind of's not the age that counts anyway when it comes to the question of whether we've finished our tasks on earth or not. It's God who decides it.

But when it comes to people who don't believe in religion...I agree with Greg. I couldn't have said it any better. ;-D

The Real Mother Hen said...

For a few good minutes after reading this I was quiet.
Personally, I actually welcome sudden death than to go through old age and suffering.
And I believe those who I leave behind will only suffer for a short time. They will move on.

Random Magus said...

the domestic minx:
Hi. Hope everything is alright and your family is fine.
I seem to have had a series of these events happen all around me. You get a little shaken

Don't they say it's darkest before dawn. I hope her family pulls through this ordeal as well as my family. My aunt my cousins.

Greg do we even actively remember death as we are living? Is that the thought that gives us impetus to live? I don't know

Amel's Realm:
It's just the people left behind that I always think about. Strangely not the person who dies...

The Real Mother Hen:
I get what you are saying life does go on but it's not that easy to live without someone who you have shared everything with. Moving on is very difficult, that is the way it happens but it's not easy - the scars remain forever.

meleah rebeccah said...

I am so sorry for your friends loss. What a wonderful letter you wrote.

Death is one of the toughest things in life to deal with.

Joseph said...

a touching letter.

Death, like Life, is ambiguous I suppose.

I use humor as a way to negotiate the painful experiences of losing loved ones, and remembering them for who they were.

my condolences.

Greg said...


"do we even actively remember death as we are living?"

How do we remember something we haven't experienced? We are often more motivated by the threat of losing something (life), than gaining something.

insanity-suits-me (Dawn) said...

I think your letter was in good taste. From my point of view I never appreciated comments like "she's in a better place" or "God needed her to come home". They seemed like such silly words and they held no real meaning.
You did a good job Amber.

Sarcasm Abounds said...

RM - I am very sorry to hear this, my condolences to you and your friend's family.

Beautiful post.


Amel's Realm said...

Ahhhh...yeah, the people left behind have a "harder" time than the "dead" people indeed. They need to learn to let go and that lesson's never easy. :-((((

Anonymous said...

I always seem to be late to the comment party that's always going on over here...

I can't really add anything more to the above discussion, most of the points I would have made have already been.

But, with that being said, the note you left your friend your touching and beautiful... and probably just what was needed to be heard.

Mark said...

You did a wonderful job with your letter.
Death to me is a transition from this form to another and it has nothing to do with how bad or good, young or old we are. We are here for a purpose, our death may even be that purpose or a least part of it. We are eternal energy, what we call death, I am sure is called birth on the other side of this life. Love and peace.

jon said...

It's so difficult because everyone deals with it so differently.

My father passed away on 7/13/2007. I had a year to prepare for it, and every day I bless God for the time that I had to say Good bye.

A person's dearest friends offer comfort in ways that are unimaginable to those who are offering their comfort. By sharing their grief and in the giving their hearts and souls, and most of all, just by being their as a loving friend.

All my dearest friends knew I didn't want to talk about it and didn't dote over me. I was so grateful for that.

Your letter is full of love and the grace of soulful friendship. That sort of beauty goes a long way to help heal the wounded, grieving heart.

Ricardo said...

First my condolences to those that died. What a terrible accident. Secondly your note was written with grace and eloquence. You could not have done any better. You were correct in pointing out that you have to plan to live not to die as that is the right, and sometimes courageous thing to do. Dealing with death is so difficult on everyone. I don't have a proper answer or secret to dealing with it. Time and finding a way to move on is the obvious answer but much easier said than done.

Random Magus said...

meleah rebeccah:
How ironic that only the living have to deal with death.

Talking to someone who has lost an important person in their life is one of the hardest things to do. It really is!

Do we even actively remember the threat of it then? We don’t even do that – so many times we take things for granted till they are snatched away.

insanity-suits-me (Dawn):
Thank you. But then it’s always easier to write about. If I were face to face I would be totally tongue-tied.

Sarcasm Abounds:
Thank you… it was tough but since I was pondering those very questions the words just flew.

Amel's Realm:
And there is nothing that we can say to ease the pain

I haven’t heard back from her – will call her today!

Like all transitions – it’s painful and sometimes very difficult to cope with.

I am so very sorry. I really don't have any words to express that because in situations like this words really fall flat. We are a group of four best friends since school and one of my other best friend lost her dad when we were in college. I remember it was her birthday we all had gone out and then the phone call had come. The rest of us didn't know what to do or say - we were just there - silent as no words could ever express those feelings.

I know I'll sound like a coward but ever since my own cousin's death, I have been down and my sincerest wish is to die before the people I love. I wouldn't be able to handle it.

Ricardo said...

Not another word of that Amber! You're going to live a long happy life and you will not only learn how to cope with these profound losses but will help others cope too. They will thank you for it and you'll be glad you've stuck around. Read your letter again, the evidence to what I say is clear. Bis will thank you. Trust me, I know these things.

Random Magus said...

Ricardo: To be able to handle life's tragedies is something I don't think I'm capable of doing.

Amel's Realm said...

Yes, you're right, there is nothing we can say to ease the pain. They will need time to grieve and hopefully time will heal their pain (as long as they're willing to be healed, I think in time they'll be healed). There might be a scar, but the wound will stop bleeding one day. Or maybe I'm just too optimistic??? Hmmmhhh...

Ricardo said...

You are capable. We all are but it's a painful and scary fight. You are much stronger than you think.

Rebecca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rebecca said...

I have been exposed to sickness and death from such an early age that I know it to be a part of life. I don't question how to deal with death in and of itself. For me, the grief is more about wanting to see or hear or feel the person that is gone for just one more minute. To say that one thing that I meant to say but didn't. There are very few words that are of much comfort, but the availability of a shoulder to cry on is of tremendous comfort.

Whether my spirit goes on to either another level or to inhabit another body, or whether my body does nothing more than nourish the earth does not concern me at all. I believe we should live as well as we can, do as little harm as we can just because it is the right thing to do, not motivated by the fear of a punitive God.

I am sure your note was of tremendous comfort to your friend. There is no way to answer what, in some ways, is a rhetorical question. The irony of the manner of her husband's death truly is cruel! But we must live on, even when taking our next breath feels this side of unconscionable.