It was either Benjamin Franklin or Mark Twain who first said “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”– it’s been attributed to both of them and I can never get a solid answer.
I mentioned in an earlier blog, the idea that as humans there is only one thing we are made to do, and that’s die. Our bodies are not programmed to last indefinitely. And so it is natural that death is a part of life, and with that grief as well.
But with developments in medicine and science, we push death further and further away from us. As a modern society we have become unaccustomed to our own mortality- we believe, falsely, that we and all those whom we love are invincible. It’s good that more people than ever before survive things that, even 10 years ago would have killed them, but it just means that everyday we get a little bit worse at talking about death and grief.
This prompt is the exact question I ask as an icebreaker when I am teaching a bereavement lesson. I ask people to come up with all of the reasons that people would be uncomfortable and not want to talk about grief- and then we do it any way.
Because that’s the thing, there are hundreds of valid and genuine reasons why we want to keep death and grief at arms lengths- acknowledging their existence in life goes against the most innate instincts in our caveman brains- survival. But just because something is uncomfortable, that doesn’t mean we just don’t do it- because then it stays awkward.
Have the difficult discussion. Break the ice. Explore the shadows. Let’s make it not awkward again.