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Death is Different

We learn about death early in life.
Cartoons trivialize it. Movies misdepict it.
It starts far away.
Obituaries appear daily, but only a young or active figure's falling gives us a shock.
We just take note of the passing of strangers and resume our lives, little changed.

In our youth, death comes near rarely.
A grandparent, our own or of someone we know, passes away. Maybe an uncle or a cousin.
We offer our condolences to the next of kin, recover quickly, and return to our routine.

Over time, our encounters with this inexorable force become more frequent.
Closer it approaches until the unwelcome visitor reaches those closest to us, and,
once it arrives, it stays.

That is when we learn that death is different.

Different from all other aspects of life. It is never over. There is no going back, no second chance.
What we had, we no longer have, and there is no replacement. Things are simply not the same.
We have no choice but to change.

Copyright © 1999 by Toby Gottfried


The loss of a loved one is not just sadness.

It is strange and baffling.
It feels so wrong.
It has to be over soon; it cannot be forever.
How can this be ?
They were here with us, always.
How can they be gone ?
Won't they be back ?

It is a void, filled only by memories.
The memories are so strong, so vivid, they create a presence.

Old things acquire new meanings.
Letters, photos, even ordinary items - a plate, a sweater, a chair, a mere scrap of paper with a note.
The set is now complete, so its elements bear new significance.
They were theirs, now they are real souvenirs - memories.

Copyright © 1999 by Toby Gottfried