Death is something that happens to someone else, and you are sorry, which you are, you say so, ask if there is anything you can do and find out where the funeral will be. Unless it happens to your family, then you don’t walk away. If it is sudden, which ours was, you find that closing up a life means dealing with a lot of people and activities that you had never had to be concerned with. Moving the body, dealing with the government, filling out forms, arranging the funeral, leaning on the church for help, notifying people and things we haven’t thought of yet. How do you spread the word? How do you deal with friends? How do you fit into the family organization that is trying to turn death into a funeral and then into a future life minus one? This is just the beginning of the list.

While you are involved in the mechanics, your emotions keep pushing their way into the way of your detached, rational approach to coping with the problem. Today we attended the funeral of a friend and emotions completely overwhelmed my composure. I am sure it will be worse at our service.

How do you deal with shared stories from people who knew your son in earlier days. One story began by saying he had lost an older brother and knew what we were going through. He went on to describe how our son had influenced him when he was a beginner on our pool swimming team. He saw him as bigger than life and doing all sorts of fascinating things; someone he wanted to be like.

How do you deal with “absence” emotions. You have seen your son for bits and pieces of time for all of his adult life. You talked weekly and kept up with family, job changes, big events; the stuff of life. You don’t do this in person, so you have a feeling of distance while still being connected. Then comes death and you find a lifetime of memories and emotions gripping your soul. Death is not to be understood.

Rest in peace Robert

  1. #1 by Terry Jackson on August 25, 2014 - 11:01 pm

    I am so sorry about this loss. These things leave such a hole in our souls and there is no rational thing to say. It is difficult to see someone hurting and know that you cannot really do anything to change it. Warm hugs to you – today and always….Your friend and former student, Terry

    • #2 by John Boswell on August 26, 2014 - 2:08 pm

      Thank you. Robert was 52 with three children, the youngest is a junior in VMI. He was on an exercise with the army when he had a heart attack, which no exam had ever pointed to as a possibility.

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