I think that there is no way to say goodbye to someone.
“ We are never ready to say goodbye to someone we love. Even after such a long time, I am on the train hoping you will start eating again after seeing me and that everything will be ok…but it is only to protect myself from the pain, from this emptiness you will leave in my life after you pass away…If I am honest, I am not really caring about what you really wish. You are so scared of what will come but it does not mean you are up for going through your current horrible life, closed up inside your body and with so much trouble to express yourself? After waking up at 5.00.am, a cab to the airport, a plane, a RER, the Parisian tube, another train…I have been travelling to my roots and it hurts…because I know that is the preparation for saying goodbye…as if I had to go through this in order to do it right. My watch stopped exactly at the time I boarded the plane, in Paris, an intense fog awaited me as thick as my heart. And now, on the train, I try to get my mind busy working on a proposal for a client…but, I know, that deep inside, my sadness does not leave me and that its weight makes me hunchbacked. I love you, Granny as no one else. I wanted you to hear it one last time before you passed away and this is the only reason why I am travelling to you now.”
I wrote this text some weeks ago. My grandmother is leaving us little by little and not the way she deserves. I want to share this situation because one of my main challenges in life is to free myself from my fear of death. Not so much my own death but the passing away of the people I truly love. And I believe that I am not alone in this situation, because our society tends to push us towards fighting against death, ignore it or even believe that we can be stronger than death itself.
How can we get rid of this fear? How to accept death as part of life? Is there, apart from religion, a way to reconcile ourselves with death?
Of course it is a complex topic. Especially taking into account the fact that our times have turned dying into something taboo. According to Philippe Ariès, author of a book called “Dying in Occident”, the space for death has gone from public to private. Mourning hardly takes place now in the western culture, and it has an impact on the vision we have of death. It is usually something to hide away.
We all have a different way of living it. I have grown up shocked by the fact that my grandparents paid and selected their graves in the village’s cemetery very early after they retired. But in a way, I find it a great way to escape from the fear that inspires death.
I read some days ago an article in El Pais on the fact that the last trend in the funeral sector is to pay a joyful tribute to the dead ones even transmitting the funeral in streaming. This might be one of the solutions: celebrating death, looking at the life path of the person who just died and trusting that his/her life was worth it? As far as I am concerned, I am doing my best using autumn and All Saint’s day, to explain to my kids (and myself) that death is normal even if it hurts so much.