Don’t Let Death Get You Down
Last week, a good friend of mine passed away. I’ve known Jeannie since high school, over five decades ago. She was one of the few I stayed in touch with when I left my hometown and blasted off to discover who I was. Until recently, we connected by phone a couple of times a year.
I posted a notice on my high school website, and many were saddened by her passing, as most people are when responding to death. Though I knew I’d miss her, I didn’t feel like I was mourning. I know that sounds insensitive, irreverent, or even blasphemous, but I’m simply grateful for all the laughs we shared over the years. Why not find satisfaction in the fact that she was gifted with a long life? Jeannie herself told me more than once, “I can’t believe I’m still here.”
The value of death is that it makes us reflect on our own vulnerability and how important it is to live life fully every day. Jeannie’s passing also made me ponder how I’d like people to respond when I kick that almighty bucket. I sure don’t want folks moping around. Sure, we lose future stuff like conversations, hugs, smiles, and the comfort of friendship. But being a glass-half-full kind of guy, I’m all for focusing on the beautiful friendship that existed.
During the time we knew and loved our dearly departed friends, we collected treasured experiences—flashy little items we stashed in a little jeweled chest deep in our minds—one we can open and indulge in whenever we want. I hope when I transition, my friends will focus on cherishing the good times we’ve shared, not walk around feeling glum.
I’ve never been too serious about death, though I am certainly in no hurry to go on that adventure. I have always been more comfortable with death than with pain, sickness, or suffering. In high school I took a test to see what vocation I was best suited for. Mortician. Go figure. Sounds grim but those who know me can verify that grim is not my demeanor. I expect at worse, death is a peaceful nothingness and, at best, an ocean of infinite possibilities my puny mind can’t fathom.
Life’s too damn short to not enjoy it as much as we can, even when it takes a sharp turn and throws us through the windshield. There are so many luscious things to see, hear, taste, feel, and do, I hate to waste a moment indulging in grief if I can help it.
I’ve always maintained that if people want to have a memorial service when I die, make it a party—sing and dance and celebrate for God’s sake. I told my wife a while back, “I know what I want you to say at my post-croak-memorial get-together. Get up there and tell the crowd in a strong voice, keeping a straight face, ‘Damn! ... He’s dead!’” I imagine after the shock wore off and she revealed that I told her to do it, I’d get people laughing. Then they could enjoy the day as much as I was.
And knowing Jeannie, I bet she’d feel the same way.
12/24/2016 06:42:38 am
That is beautiful & well written. I agree live it up!!
12/24/2016 07:27:57 am
1/3/2017 12:31:45 pm
This comes at just the right time since I have a friend fighting cancer and it is not the kind you live through. I have been wallowing in sadness instead of appreciating every day. Thank you for your incite , it has deeply moved and shifted me today.
1/7/2017 01:52:38 pm
All the best to you and I wish your friend a gentle transition.
Jan (Quay) Healy
12/24/2016 01:54:36 pm
12/24/2016 04:13:42 pm
Thanks Jan. All the same to you and yours. ... Rich
12/27/2016 12:36:24 pm
Thanks Rich for your comments and reflections. It has been good for me to see all the positive and wonderful memories that people have of Jeannie. Having been with her through some tough times and having seen her about 10 years ago in rough shape, it's good to remember the happy fun times. I gave Jeannie what I could when I could and have to know that she appreciated it.
12/28/2016 08:16:31 am
And I hope we're meant to play, dance, and love for many years to come. Happy New Year Kate.
Michael D. Sheehan
1/3/2017 11:35:57 am
1/4/2017 11:35:12 am
Well said Rich! Live for the moment!
1/5/2017 12:35:57 am
1/7/2017 01:49:55 pm
1/10/2017 08:56:58 am
Awesome Rich! I feel exactly the same way! The hardest thing about death is the folks left behind. There is just a void of their presence. When I die I want a party also. I hope folks will be unable to make it to their vehicles because they indulged to much! Lots of pics, videos, great stories good food & drink and some 420 friendliness! I've heard a few things about what happens when we pass. We got to the light. We go thru a tunnel. We just wake up some where else. Regardless I sincerely hope we all journey well! Luv Scott
11/25/2017 08:07:37 am
Don't know how I missed your blog before. I have incredible memories of Jeannie and I too like to dwell on those rather than her death or some of the lesser happy times with her. I am going to buy your book and see what kernels you have thrown out and what experiences you have had. I have a partially written adventure story myself as I spent many years traveling and did some pretty crazy stuff in my late 20's early 30's backpacking on my own through Europe. Some resulting in less than "safe" situations but still learning experiences. I take the more hurtful experiences of life like failed relationships by letting go of any anger and seeing what resulted from them, like my children! I now have some lovely grandchildren and live by the ocean in Washington with lovely friends and lovely rainy days. I look forward to reading your book and am happy you are writing more. Charlotte
Leave a Reply.
SIGN UP for Rich's blog & receive a FREE video guaranteed to put a smile on your face!
Youth to the Rescue