Learning How to Mourn

Last year, around this time, I was posting a lot of posts about death.  I posted a chant of Memory Eternal, the last prayer Orthodox Christians pray in their funeral liturgy.  (They are asking God to remember the person.)  I also posted poetry by Walt Whitman about death during the Civil War.

I did that because I had to put my cat down. (I have since gotten another cat.)

Losing my cat hurt far worse than I could have expected.  It made me think a lot about death in general, and how necessary it is to learn how to mourn.

Orthodox Christians consider death an enemy, the last enemy to be destroyed.  At the Easter liturgy they sing about Christ “trampling down death by death.”  From a Christian perspective, this is true.  But death is also a part of life.  It is unavoidable.  Not just death, but decay, and change.  It is inescapable. My co-worker considers it the price we pay for this crazy adventure called life.

I thought about that last year, around the new year.  I was laying on the couch watching The Twilight Zone, and one of the episodes was about death, as many of them were.  I laid there listening to, and feeling, my heart beat.  And I thought about how one day, it will stop beating.  Nothing I do can stop that from happening one day.  I can only delay it.  I was so angry at my Mom, because if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have to experience that one day.

I have realized this year that one of the most important lessons we need to learn in life is how to mourn.  I am a novice.  I don’t want any more experience in mourning, but I know it cannot be avoided.

I thought about that when I was deciding whether or not to get another cat.  It hurt so much to lose Sophie, I was afraid of going through that again.  But then I realized that foster cats will die, whether I adopt them or not.  I can’t stop that.  But I could stop one from dying unloved.

Several months later, Fiona has settled in.  I still look at her and think about the fact that she will die one day.  But she will not die unloved.  And that is something.

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