NOVEMBER 22, 2005

Death brings out the best in us
(ALSO TITLED “THE GOOD SIDE OF DEATH”)

       Ironically death often brings families closer together. As one member of the group is leaving, the rest of the family comes together to mourn the loss of their dearly departed loved one.
       Tears are commonplace in the face of death. They symbolize the sadness and grieving the ones left behind must endure. With the recent passing of a relative I was surprised to see how little crying there was. This was by no means a form of disrespect to our family member, but there was a better way to deal with the tragic loss -- laughter.
       Many hours were spent bedside at the hospital. While we could have just stared at the scrawny, pale figure laying there dying, we decided to remember the 41 years of marriage he had in our family and the good memories he brought to it. There were funny stories and one-liners traded back and forth, giving almost a sense of fun to the room. At one point there was a smile on everyone's face in the room, despite knowing that death was only hours away.
       A few tears shed as we got into the elevator and left the hospital. But they soon turned into tears of laughter in the car as family members once again reminisced about the hilarious moments from years gone by.
       The funeral is a chance to get the last cry out. After that you should have a smile on your face because you know your loved one is in a better place and is no longer suffering. You can be happy you have so many memories that you will cherish for the rest of your life.
       When I got home and was alone I did some thinking. The whole situation made me wonder, "How can I take seriously all the things I take seriously in life?" Watching my family talk and remember a life that was filled with good times and bad, it was the good memories that remained the focus of the conversations. This was a lesson for me in how to turn something devastating into a positive experience. I like to think I am optimistic about life but sometimes I dwell on the unimportant aspects and focus my attention away from the big things in life. 
       I used to laugh when people would say "Live every day as if it were your last." But that has taken on a new meaning for me. To me that statement means to enjoy everything that happens whether you view it as a positive or negative experience at the time. Death, even though it may sound morbid, is a positive experience. It allows you to come to terms with your feelings and learn about yourself as a person. I learned that, yes, losing a relative is saddening, but preserving the memories of that person and coming together as a family is what is the most important part. There is no sense in focusing on the sadness of death, but realizing that life goes on. And life can't go on unless you live it and enjoy it.



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