Death is real. One day someone’s here and then they’re not. It’s nothing profound, really. Sometimes it just happens and there’s nothing we can do about it. That can’t be more true than during the Covid-19 pandemic. Since its start in 2019, we’ve been very familiar with the toll that the disease has brought upon us and our closest ones.
I have been lucky to not have lost any direct relatives or close friends. But for someone who had always taken friendships seriously and values them above all else, this pandemic had shown me a different side of life.
You know how when you read something tragic in the news like a mass genocide or a recent war that had broken out in some faraway land, your immediate reaction is to say how tragic it is and how heartbreaking it is to see the loss of life happen over something so trivial? It’s well and good but when those deaths are so far removed from where you are geologically and emotionally, it’s easy to get over it and move on with your life. It’s not so easy when that death is so close to you and affects multiple aspects of your life and the people you hold so dear.
For me, the pain that I have felt has been more profound than reading the news of a war breaking out because of its proximity to me. Seeing people around me weep for their loved ones and remembering all the things that they had done for us and all of the good times that we’ve had together was a wake-up call for me. I haven’t been the best at telling people I care about that I love them, let alone showing it. Expressing emotions has been quite a difficult thing for me to do since I wasn’t raised that way. The pandemic has been a chilling reminder that you can’t really escape death and it reminded me of not only my mortality but also of those around me.
My parents, my friends, even my pets. I was reminded of their mortality each and every day. I witnessed the 5 stages of grief that, though I’d written about them before, I couldn’t even begin to comprehend the true nature of those phases. It was painful, to say the least.
If there’s anything that surprised me throughout the process, it was that wounds don’t really heal. The pain of losing a loved one never truly heals and you won’t ever truly forget how painful it was. You simply get stronger and your pain threshold increases with time, making the whole grieving process not exactly less painful, but more so less crippling.
Death is real. You may not see it in the streets or smell it in the air, but it’s real. It’s here. You’ll never quite know when it’s time for someone to leave you forever. The best way that I’ve found to ease the pain is to tell loved ones how you feel about them every single day that you get to spend together. Tell them how much they mean to you until they’re tired of it; tell them every single opportunity that you have and mean it every single time, because no one knows when the end will come. If you’ve done that, and you no longer have regrets, then when the time comes, you’ll be ready to set them free, to let them rest a final rest.
Death is real, but it doesn’t have to be the end.