Remembering the dead

I have attended far more funerals than any 28 year old in the modern world should have to attend. These funerals have been for people I barely knew, friends of friends, my close friends, and my family. All varying ages, all varying deaths, all a loss and a harsh reality check that mortality is fragile and we are not invincible.

As I’ve talked about before, I’m pretty comfortable with my mortality, and I think it’s really important that people confront their mortality and have hard conversations around what happens when death does inevitably claim you. However, I think it’s important to remember (and remind myself) that being comfortable with your own mortality does not make the loss of a loved one any easier.

Last week was the 6th anniversary of my dads death. It doesn’t hurt any less, and it’s numbing to think I’ve survived 6 years without my best friend and mentor, but my still being here and being where I am is a testament to the hard work my father put in to raising a resilient and industrious, self sufficient human being.

The last week, and the week leading up to it, was hard. It always is. Even when I forget what the date is day to day it’s like my mental health and my heart know the date is closing in, and I begin to struggle. I’ve found that this is pretty common among people who have lost their parents, and even more common for those who have lost more than one loved one. There’s something that niggles at the brain, pulls at the heart strings, and makes it that little bit harder to focus and carry on as the day draws near.

Of course every year the day rolls around, we take a deep breath and we face it head on. This year I went to work and I worked like nothing was any different. Every other year I had taken the 30th of July off to wallow and do something my father would have liked. Sail, camp, watch the Princess Bride… Whatever it may be, I usually did it on the day of his death. This year, I strayed from the norm. This year, something strange happened.

For the first time in a long time I am surrounded by people I respect and can easily say I love. My colleagues are considered friends, and I trust them. Last week myself and three other women held each other as we remembered our loved and lost ones. Whether they were blood, friends, or fur-family, we grieved for them together and held each other while we cried. It was exactly what was needed for the 6th anniversary of my dads death. An open display of strength and vulnerability from a small group of people who needed each other in that moment.

I cannot think of a better way to remember the dead than to be with people who also need to remember, to grieve, and to be held.


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