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Different Ways of Coping With Death

Updated on November 5, 2012

Those left behind

The only things absolutely certain in life, are death and taxes. How many times have we heard that?. As l get older l realise how true it is.

l have absolutely no idea of what can be done about unfair taxes, high taxes , any taxes.

Complain they are too high?. Riot in the streets? l don´t think so !

Riots may capture the attention of the nation but it is the RIOT that ´s getting the attention not the cause of wanting tax changes.

People gaze at their t.v.sets, shaking their heads at the sight of Policemen getting pelted with the most ridiculous weapons. Pieces of wood, Stones, ........ Shop windows are smashed, sometimes looting takes place, Occasionallydeath will occur and many , many injuries, always.The ¨Cause¨is lost in the chaos of the riot.(What was it we came here today for?. Can´t remember, never mind pick up another brick. )

So l, fear, we have to let our Government get on with ruining oops, l mean running(Freudian slip) our countries.

Death on the other hand, is inevitable, but we don´t all live to be 100 and die peacefully in our sleep.

This is the problem very often.... The Manner of someones´death.

Don´t get me wrong, a loss is a loss, and anyones´death, in any manner and at any age is devastating to the loved ones left behind.. We´re not conditioned to welcome death.We all cling to life even when the quality of life may be poor due to illness or disability. (Suicide, while the balance of the mind is disturbed is a subject of its own )

l was 10 years old when my mother died of Leukemia. This happened only a year or so after the death of her father. My beloved grandfather, who was so dear to me , so special did he make me feel, that when he died and one of my cousins mentioned óur´grandad had died , l raised my eyebrows in shock. We had been so close it never occurred to me that he wasn´t just all mine.

l guess that may have come about because my mother was his only daughter out of 4 children and l was the 1st granddaughter, and HERS, his lovely daughter , ill for 5 years, so young dying of Leukemia..

Much as l loved this wonderful man who came back from world war 1 minus one eye and half a leg blown off., l was a child, only 8 or 9 yrs old and so soon got back to normal life with my mum, dad and one brother. l felt a hole inside me but my life went on.

We were used to mum suddenly having to go into hospital..You could never predict when she´d have a really bad day and have to stay in bed, or worse go into Hospital.

Other days we´d come home from school and she´d be singing whilst preparing the evening meal. As an adult, l look back at that scenario and think it must have been so confusing.,Sometimes we´d have to go stay with an Aunt. (That was when mum was really bad and Dad would work all day, then go straight to the Hospital and stay with her for as long as he was allowed) It was obviously more sensible for my brother and l to stay with our cousins at those times.)

The funny thing is it didn't seem confusing for us at the time. It was what we knew. (l was 5 when mum was diagnosed with Leukemia) BUT when mum died, my brother had just had his 7th birthday a few weeks before and l was ten, so this was a completely different set of circumstances from when Grandad died. This was MUM.!

This time l couldn't cry for a while, then get on with my life . Nothing was ever going to go ´back to normal´. How could it? My dad , for the most part kept a ´stiff upper lip, insisted that life goes on and it´s the living we had to think of. l know his heart was breaking, but that was his way of coping.No-one could criticize him for only going once to the graveside to show us where it was (we weren't allowed at the funeral) It was his way. He strongly believed that mum was not there in that patch of ground. She was dead and her body was decaying beneath the earth. He saw no point in visiting the place. He asked for no flowers or wreaths back in a day when that was unheard of where we lived. Instead he made a massive donation to Leukemia research and asked anyone who had been thinking of buying wreaths or flowers to please do the same.

This was dads´way of coping Think of the living, help where you can. Help the research to someday stop this happening to other young women...

About a year later, my 19 year old cousin went home from an audition for a play , with great excitement.. She´d landed her 1st big part., and so, so longed to be an actress. The joy, and thrill of the news had given her a headache, so she went to bed early with some painkillers.

To my Aunty´s horror, the following morning she could not wake her darling daughter Maureen. Maureen had died during the night of a brain hemorrhage.!

He father and younger sisters were distraught . All of the family had a sense of disbelief, but my Aunt , bless her, could not programme the information into her brain at all. How could her 1st born child, her beautiful girl, on the cusp of her career--...... stop breathing........ no longer be there ?????.

MY Aunts´way of coping was completely different from her brothers (my dad). At times the family feared for her mental health., because her behaviour was so bizarre. She often behaved as though Maureen was still alive. Buying 3 of everything for her girls long after there were only two of them.

She wept over the grave every day for years.One day Aunty had bought Easter bonnets for the girls and wouldn't go home until she´d been to the cemetery 1st to ask Maureen if she liked them.! She wept and talked to her dead daughter wanting to know if Maureen approved of the chosen hats. Again this was her way of coping. This was her way of keeping her daughter alive in her heart. It was tough on her husband and the other 2 girls, but how could anyone say she was wrong if that´s what she needed to do to keep going.? She never neglected the other two, l spent many happy hours playing with them.. She never neglected her husband, . She was just never quite the same. She lived well into her 70s when breast cancer took its toll.

So What do we have?

The notion of death  is alien to us. Even people who have a strong faith in the afterlife. death is not normal to us. Does the pope not have a doctor when he is sick? Of course he does and the best treatment money can buy. So he doesn't want to die even though his faith teaches him that he would be going to a better place.!!!?

As for those left behind when someone dies, they are the ones who need our support. Everyone will grieve in their own way, but if we keep an open mind and let them, then we can help them get on with their lives slowly, loving them, however odd their grieving process may seem odd to some.


Submit a Comment
  • Dim Flaxenwick profile imageAUTHOR

    Dim Flaxenwick 

    8 years ago from Great Britain

    Lovely comment. So good to hear from you, always, SiverGenes. Take care

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Dim, thank you for this poignant and thoughtful article about how death affects those left behind. I agree with you that grief is intensely personal. How could it be otherwise? When someone we love is taken from us by death, it is a finality that few of us can accept without hoping for some further connection, some continuance. I don't find my own death frightening at all, but the death of my children or others close to me is different. It has an element of abandonment to it that results in anger, denial, all those odd things that we humans are prone to experiencing in grief. Isn't it strange how often we are afraid to speak the name of the deceased it for fear of upsetting the bereaved? The most beautiful sound in the world to me is the name of my loved one.

  • Dim Flaxenwick profile imageAUTHOR

    Dim Flaxenwick 

    8 years ago from Great Britain

    thanks for reading, Sunnie and especially leaving a coment again. Take care

  • profile image

    Sunnie Day 

    8 years ago

    Very Good hub Dim. It is true every one has their own way of handling death and should be allowed to do so. Sometimes it takes months and sometimes it takes years.Thank you for bringing this to light.

    God Bless,


  • Dim Flaxenwick profile imageAUTHOR

    Dim Flaxenwick 

    8 years ago from Great Britain

    Interesting comment. Thank you Astra Nomik

  • Astra Nomik profile image

    Cathy Nerujen 

    8 years ago from Edge of Reality and Known Space

    The living have an energy that imbues itself somehow into us and the people around them. We can sense it and sense when it is gone. Death is scary because it is the unknown to a large extent. In Asian cultures there is a notion of the afterlife, where life gets to be re-lived again inside a new shell. There is the notion of a continuance. So much about western ideology and thought on death is not focussed on renewal and regrowth or rebirth. But we don't live forever. We only get so long to live life. We should savour every day of life and enjoy it while we can.


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