Let’s Talk About Birth And Death

by holli on August 1, 2017

My beautiful Mom, hosting a Hawaiian themed birthday for my Aunt, her younger sister. This blurred photo captures the way I saw her for much of my childhood: beautiful, capable and giving. I’m the little girl in the right corner.

For my Birthday, my Facebook page is bright with messages of well wishes and greetings to mark the day. This photo popped up from my Aunt, and I adore it, even if it brought me some tears today. A bittersweet memory that she’s physically gone but always a part of my life.

Why do we share birth stories with everyone whether or not they want to hear it, but don’t also share the stories about those last days or hours for those who have died?

I think the reason is that we enjoy the “miracle” of when a life begins, but we are afraid of the discomfort death brings. The topic brings up a well of emotional responses, sometimes trauma of loss is often more than we can articulate. Just like birth, there are those whose stories a similar and stories that stand out, strikingly unique.

There’s a saying that you don’t grow up until your parents die. I have not idea where that originated, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot since my Mom died battling breast cancer in January.

I still have a Dad alive and well. So, I’m not an adult orphan. But, I do have a big wave of grief washing over every special moment in life right now. Everything I would have called to tell her sits and shifts quietly, reminding me that she’s in fact really gone. I am at a loss to fully describe this part of loss except to say it’s strange.

And, I’m learning more than I imagined or ever pondered to ask. Death is part of the life cycle, and I have decided to be more open to sharing this experience. But, I’m not going to tell every single person I run into at the grocery store – unsolicited birth stories aren’t cool, and so death stories are likely the same.

A recent example is when I was interviewed on the Podcast, Bare Naked Bravery. The host, Emily Ann Peterson, was full of questions about topics like my heritage, creativity and collaboration, and then grief came up. I was surprised at how good it was to share despite how painful it felt. And that is what sparked this whole question of sharing more about death.

While I was researching the phrase, “You grow up when your parent(s) die,” I found a few interesting articles to share:

Adult Orphans: when parents die

Scott Simon: We don’t fully grow up until we lose our parents

The main message I’ve learned so far is that there is no right or wrong with death. Yes, there’s the ideal of dying at a very old age, and there’s the benefit of dying young – being remembered as having been at a youthful prime, but they both don’t hold true: dying is hard no matter what age.

All this to share that I know nothing about death, except that I’m willing to talk about it.


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