Death is an inevitable part of life, yet there is hardly a subject we are more afraid of discussing. I see this fear all the time as a member of the club no one wants to be in.
There are people who have known me for decades, have seen me multiple times since my child died by suicide and have yet to say the first word to me about that loss. That’s despite my having spoken about my son, written nearly 435 posts on this blog telling people that saying nothing is the worst thing of all to say.
I could be resentful. I could be angry. But I choose to understand that the lack of reference to my loss is the result of fear not a personal affront.
Some will often tell me it’s because they are afraid they will say the wrong thing. I don’t think people are as afraid of saying the wrong thing as they are about the subject of death and they use that excuse to avoid the topic all together. They just don’t want to go there.
We think talking about suicide, depression and death will bring us down when in fact, it can do the opposite. Many times I’ve talked with someone about such subjects and felt like a burden was lifted. I felt lighter, more connected and more in tune with that other person. It’s those deep emotions that make us human.
Death conjures up fear of our own mortality, fear of losing children, fear of tears–either mine or theirs. Ironically, it’s lack of conversation about death that allows suicide to thrive. I have become more comfortable with the topic but I still fear it, too. I don’t want my life to end. So I use my fear of death to inspire me to live a better life now.
Talking about death doesn’t make me sad. Because talking has saved lives and that gives my life meaning that makes it worth living.