31 August 2005

The Undiscover'd Country

I've been thinking about death a lot lately. A guy I met recently and have been slowly getting to know let slip that a friend of his had recently taken his own life, and that the suicide had his entire circle of friends and colleagues a bit at sea.

Our discussions, of course, brought to mind my brother Bill, who -- though he didn't take his own life -- did go unreasonably early, and left the family in a state of chaos that has, to some degree, persisted for nearly thirty years. Sometimes it's amazing to me to think that it's been thirty years since he died.

The funny thing about death is that it becomes about someone other than the person who's died. It becomes about the person grieving. Or the friend of the person grieving who automatically turns to recollections of his own experience of death. It isn't death itself that has power over us. It's our own self-obsession: How does this affect me.

The knowing of which, of course, doesn't equip me any better to help my friend through his grief.

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