This is the post I never wanted to write. Why? Because I’m going to open up about a topic that is profoundly personal, troubling to me, and unpleasant. It’s my deepest fear and uncertainty, one I don’t have the answers for. I never wanted to write about it because it makes me incredibly emotional, and showing my strangely strong emotions about this makes me feel so…weird. I know that’s not the best word, but it describes the strangeness and high level of discomfort I feel about being emotional.
I’ve always been a writer and have found that writing is my best outlet. It allows me to get out my thoughts and feelings in a safe way. I can hide behind the words as I type the letters instead of confronting them by speaking them out loud. At the same time I’m hiding, I can also reveal my most intimate feelings in a very public way.
I enjoy writing about hope, positivity, and answers. I don’t like complaining for the sake of complaining – I think when you have a problem, you should seek a solution to it. In this post I never wanted to write, I don’t have a solution.
The Post I Never Wanted to Write
I just need to talk it out and see if I can work towards a solution. I haven’t been able to for the past 15 years that it has troubled me, but I am committed to trying. I’m letting you know in advance that this isn’t an uplifting post like I like to write. But it’s a raw, real account of something I never open up about.
Well, here it is.
It’s inevitable, and though it’s inevitable, it still tops the charts when it comes to people’s worst fears. I have always felt that my issue with death runs far deeper than most people’s fears though; if I let my mind wander too much about it, I often cry (which I detest doing) and feel extremely disturbed on many levels.
Death and religion
When someone dies, we often hear and seek comfort in some of the following common responses:
- At least she’s no longer suffering.
- God wanted his angel back.
- She is in heaven, where she belongs.
- You will see him again someday.
I know these responses because I have also said them to my loved ones when they were grieving. I also really want to believe it. My religion tells me it’s true, and my religion tells me I have to believe it, even if I can’t see heaven or have all the answers about it.
So part of the reason I’m troubled by my fear of death is that I also question what my religion tells me about it, and that makes me feel like a bad Catholic. I hear about faith all the time. I hear about it and see family, friends, and strangers all around me having it. How can everyone have it except me? What is wrong with me that I can’t have this faith? By questioning what happens after death, even when my religion tells me what happens, am I a sinner? A lost soul?
Every night when I pray, I pray for faith, understanding, and strength. Are my prayers not enough? When will I have the faith I’m expected to have so I can find solace?
What is heaven?
Part of my issue with my faith is not being able to just accept what heaven is. As a child, I had comfort in my vision of heaven: family and friends hanging out with each other on fluffy, white cumulus clouds, eating cake, playing, and flying around.
But I have a hard time understanding what heaven is outside of my childhood fantasy; is it an actual place or state of mind? In my religion, we believe that people were created to ultimately have everlasting life in heaven – that our life on earth, while we may enjoy it and be happy, is only the smallest fraction and ultimately insignificant part of your life.
This concept is hard for me to understand on so many levels. I always want to be with the people I love, even after death. I want heaven to be an actual place where I’ll hang out with my family and friends and continue our relationships. I can’t fathom life without the people I love, and if there is nothing like I hoped there would be after death, then what is the point of life? There must be something more, but I wish I could understand or have faith in it.
Parting with loved ones
What sparked me to finally write about death was the passing of a near and dear loved one this past weekend, Rosemary. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor a few weeks ago, and her occasional dementia and moments of confusion quickly took a turn for the worse.
Even though she may not understand who was visiting her, I planned on seeing her over the weekend. If nothing else, I wanted her to be surrounded by people who love and care for her, even if she didn’t know who we were. Plus, she always loved my daughter. I knew Ginny would bring her joy and happiness no matter the state of her mind.
It broke my heart that she passed away over the weekend that we were supposed to visit her. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the finality of death, for those left here in the world. It doesn’t seem possible to just not see someone again, hear their voice, give them a hug, or call them up on the phone. I can’t understand this.
One of the days my family visited her, they said Rosemary thought someone was her mother. This is such a bittersweet notion to me. I love that, even when her body was failing her, Rosemary saw and felt her mother. What could be more pure and beautiful than this? Than seeing and feeling your ultimate source of love and comfort, even in a declining state of health? It’s so beautiful to me.
But at the same time, it truly wrenches my heart. It makes me think about the future, when I’m in a declining state of health, and the one person I want is my mom, who probably won’t be there with me. Or worse yet, that I won’t be there for my daughter when she’s in her most dire need for me. It’s so painful to even write these words at all, but I hope that by getting them out in the open, I’ll be on my path to understanding. Or maybe through these painful words, someone else can connect and understand me. Who knows.
I keep these upsetting thoughts inside because it’s too distressing and emotional for me to attack them head on. I keep these upsetting thoughts inside for fear that I’ll be judged for not having the faith and understanding I’m expected to have.
This post isn’t about having the answers; it’s about putting my deepest concern and insecurity out there as I’m on the quest for a solution. I’ve read many books on this topic, and while I feel comfort in what I’ve read, the feeling is temporary. What am I missing? Am I just wired wrong? It seems something inside my soul is broken.
Can you relate to me at all or have a deep-rooted fear of your own?
Thank you Rosemary for inspiring me to write this post. I hope you knew everyday how loved and cherished you were. I’m sorry I’ll never get to hear you say “Well aren’t you darling?”, and I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to see you so you could hold Ginny one last time. You’ll always remain a beautiful, loving part of our family.