Nowadays, talking about death is still a taboo, at least in my culture. We believe that by talking about it we are “calling” for it. How many pathological griefs are the result of not being able to speak freely about our feelings when we lose someone? It would do us great to know that anger, fear, and sadness are normal and expected emotions and that no, we don't have to be strong, not in those moments when we realize that we have lost a significant person in our lives. Being strong doesn’t mean repressing, instead, it implies opening up to the experience of feeling and embracing every emotion.
Ernest Hemingway said, “The only thing that separates us from death is time”, and how right he was because death is one of the few certainties we have as human beings. So why, if it's something so normal, it’s so hard to talk about it? I’ve witnessed when someone remembers a loved one who has already parted, and the first thing that’s said is “shhh, let’s change the subject, let’s talk about something else”. Why? Why can’t we talk about how we feel? Ah, because 10, 20, 30 years have passed, I already have to feel good…according to whom? This leads us to avoid talking about it and in doing so, our emotions get heavier. In addition, feelings of loneliness and misunderstanding may arise since we think that we can’t share what we’re feeling...after all, who will understand?
At my relatively young age, many friends and family have passed away. Time passes by, yet it never stops hurting, what’s more, I think it always hurts the same way. Actually, it’s not about pretending that it doesn’t hurt or forgetting that person, that’s impossible, but it’s about relocating them in our lives and learning to live with their absence. Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.
In one of his songs, Arjona says, "Death taught me to live”. Do we really live? How much are we leaving our mark in this world to be remembered? How much are we really present in the lives of those around us? Our time in this world is limited. From the moment we are born, we're on a countdown. We aren’t sure of anything but of today; something we often forget and take for granted. We need absence to value presence and it’s something with which we must fight. Someone once told me…”The best way to live day to day is to think that soon you’re going to die”, and he’s right as when we think about death, everything is put into perspective and we can treasure what really matters. Why wait for someone to die to fill him/her with little details and write how much he/she means to us? I love the poem En vida hermano, en vida by Ana María Rabatté, which perfectly illustrates this point.
Family and friends, if I die tomorrow or in a few years, I want you to know that I was happy in this life and that I really enjoyed every moment with you. Know that I love you and you’re special to me. Know it because when that day comes I won’t be able to tell you. I hope I have left a mark on you to be able to stay alive, in spite of death, for quoting Isabel Allende, “Death doesn’t exist, people only die when they are forgotten; if you can remember me, I will always be with you.”
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