Filush-Glaze: Death takes us out of our comfort zone
Published 4:17 pm Tuesday, July 23, 2019
I recently spoke at Auburn University in the school of Nursing program to students about death and dying. And, even though I used humor to initiate the conversation, it was readily apparent that they were uncomfortable as eye contact dropped and bodies started squirming in their seats. At one point, a student even had to leave the room and didn’t return, the subject matter too intimate, opening up raw emotions and grief that was still simmering on the surface.
I mention all of these things because these are young adults – young adults who are currently having the time of their lives, most of which still view themselves as being invincible. I let them know that they are not. Sounds incredibly harsh, but I have never been one to cut corners or to dance around difficult subjects.
Grief awareness continues to be my subject matter of choice and I am proudly one of its advocates, always asking to speak at events or engage in conversations. Sure, a lot of people give me that strange look as if to say, “You want to talk about what?” but I just vigorously nod my head and emphatically tell them “Yes, yes I do.” So, when given the green light, I delve right into the things that we need to be talking about and I share the intimate stories of the lives of people I have shared grief encounters with. Surprisingly, college students ask a lot of questions- some are very morbid in nature, some are information seeking and some are just genuinely interested in learning more about a topic that they never once considered sitting down and talking about.
As I have stated many times, death is uncomfortable and not just the physical part of it, but also all the many emotions and challenges that are presented when we are faced with grief. From the “preparing” for death in the case of an extended illness to the “shock” of a sudden loss, no one is immune from needing to process feelings and have them validated. Yes, it can cause some discomfort, some avoidance and running away from the subject at hand, and yet we must find a way to step forward and enter into a new comfort zone which will allow us to fully grieve.
We need to be better at listening, at being present and at comforting. When we are able to do this, when we are able to broach difficult topics and bring them to the table, we are displaying a resolve that lets others know that we are ready and willing to tackle this subject. So please, if you see me out and about and have those questions or would like to engage in some conversations- stop me. I am comfortable discussing things that others have a difficult time talking about, and my hope is to help make you a little more comfortable as well.