Disclaimer: I am applying the ‘Mother of None” philosophy to my blog: This is my blog and I will write what I want. If you enjoy it then great! I’m happy to share my feelings with you. If you don’t like what I write then that is your prerogative and you are fully entitled to your opinions, but I don’t care to hear them. I am not at all interested in negative feedback. Don’t like it? Don’t read it. Simple.
Now to the post…
Everyone is going to die. It’s one of the two certainties in life, the other being taxes according to the comedians out there. When someone dies, it’s sad. No-one is going to dispute that. It seems to be universally accepted that the younger a person was, the more sad it is. We morn what could have been as well as what was, and the more there could still have been for a person, the more sad it seems to be.
What I’ve been noticing recently is the ‘qualifying’ of a person’s life. This is usually not done by anyone close to the deceased. I’ll give an example.
A fifty-something woman was telling me about a local news story where a man in his 40s was killed in a tragic accident. That’s sad. But she felt the need to add, “And he had 4 kids!” Now obviously that’s sad for the kids, but should it make me, a complete stranger, more sad?
Another story, another awful accident, a retelling punctuated with, “And his wife was 22 weeks pregnant!” Again, I do not know these people. Should I be more sad because his wife is pregnant? What if they were infertile like me? What if she were alone with her whole future ripped away from her and nothing to keep her going? Should that be less sad?
I get that these qualifiers are meant to make me feel sympathy for the family left behind – and I do, truly. I can’t imagine how awful it would be to lose a parent so young – or before ever meeting them, or one minute being happily married about to have your first child together, the next about to be a single mother! But what if it’s just a spouse left behind alone? Or a single person with only friends to morn them?
Even when its not a young person, a death, or rather the life of a deceased person, is so often given worth by the family they leave behind. “S/he leaves behind 6 children, 12 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.” You think, wow, good going. Did you know, in certain tribal societies, the more children a woman has had, the more she is respected?
I guess the point of this post isn’t about death, it’s about life. Consciously or otherwise, society places one very strong measure of the worth of a person’s life on how well that person reproduced.