As one who has dealt with the loss of friends at too young of age multiple times, I readily can assure everyone that it never gets easier. It only gets tougher to deal with as you age. The double-edged sword of mortality is that it makes life significant but overwhelmingly temporary. A death of a loved one merely serves to remind you of the perilous nature of your own existence and your experiences in its duration.
As mentioned in a previous blog post, the death of my friend Derrick last year put me in a tailspin, of which I am only now beginning to recover from. What appears to have affected me so much is the cruel suddenness of it. Whereas most deaths of friends and family have been long-term, this was the first that was a complete shock. Of course, in some ways, that may be a blessing in a terrible disguise. I doubt Derrick saw it that way, and I sure as hell did not.
The bogusness and total truth that is the five stages of grief I can now see fully in quasi-objective hindsight. The miserable flight to and from Derrick's funeral to the complete blur of the few weeks afterward -- for which I have few if any lucid memories -- to the rage during Christmas season filling the survivors in this merciless new reality.
I began to reload the tank this spring, but it has taken a lot of time and a lot of pensive lack of productivity. Nevertheless, I can now look back on the days I spent with him with a smile rather than with a bitter taste of melancholy. I can write about it without weeping uncontrollably. I can now see the point of living, working, and talking to people again. I just feel better. "Life is for the living," according to someone who probably lived at some point and did not at most others.
I refuse to be "OK" with Derrick's death, or Rachel's, or Phil's, or Maxine's, or Marla's, or ... the point is I now accept the reality that comes afterward. The crushing blow of life's bluntly infinitesimal nature is its greatest gift. An infinite existence has no meaning. The impact of another person is simply without substance if time is without definition. Yes, it is painful to live a life without these people, and this pain will be cumulative with the inevitable news of others in the future.
Now, though, I shudder at the alternative. Is that "healing"? If so, I am healed. If not, I am broken, but at least I have some duct tape.