August 10, 2010

Tragic Tales 1: Death in the Family

It's not that I'm afraid to die,
I just don't want to be there when it happens.
— Woody Allen

Looks like I've found a new series to write about. I'm going to ask you to tolerate awkwardness in this post because I'm running on fumes. With all of the deaths that have happened around me, including recently, this is the first time that I've been in the middle of helping with making arrangements for a funeral, burial, cleaning out an apartment and so forth.

On Saturday, July 31, we went to the scene of a death. Lots of shock, hysterical crying, getting people notified, talking to police, all that. No foul play, it seems to have been a matter of losing track of how many prescription pills and how often to take them, and it became fatal. She was in her mid to late 20s. That's all you need to know.

As my regular readers well know, I do not use real names for the protection of people; I can make my points without risking anyone's safety or causing embarrassment. I'm going to call the deceased "Monica".

This situation is typical of so many, including some that I have experienced myself. The girl had not even had a funeral yet, and the vultures were circling: "Can I have the big TV?"..."Can I have the coffee pot and microwave?"..."Can I have...?" I have no problem with a fair dispersion of the goods, especially after the people closest to the deceased have their say in the matter. But to call the grieving mother and make demands, or deny the grieving companion treasured things — I want to use the bad words that God wants me to stop using. But all of this really angers me, capice?

Worse, I saw — and still see — people using this girl's death for their own ends. They are not only trying to get "stuff", but to lash out at people they don't like. Wow, I want to scream bad words! This is a time to put differences aside, not a tool for stronzos to use for their selfish goals. Oops, I did it again. Oh, well.

I'm reminded of Matthew 12.34b (NIV), "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." I've heard it used to teach against using profanity, coarse jesting (I know, I know, still trying to stop doing that) and so forth, but think about what I'm saying. "I want! I want!" That shows a heart full of selfishness and greed, don't you think?

Believe it or not, there is also good news in all of this.

The other side of the equation is that people start communicating again. Aside from sharing fond memories and sorrows from their loss, sometimes there is reconciliation. I have seen it, and I have seen some opening up and honesty. If people use all that, it can lead to new beginnings.

I pray that it is so.

Part 2 of this series is here.

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