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The Tears That Were Shed Were Not For Me

January 15, 2016

This month has been a sucky month for idols. Lemmy Kilmister, David Bowie, and Alan Rickman among others have died from cancer (fuck cancer) or a heart condition in Lemmy’s case. I have no problem with people grieving over the loss of a celebrity you admire–far be it from me to tell you how to grieve, but my reoccurring thought throughout this whole ordeal has been this: I just don’t get the crying and excessive grieving for someone you never met. And that’s fine, maybe it’s not for me. I don’t handle death very well as it is, but three people told me that they cried their eyes out and I just can’t comprehend it. Oh, sure, if a close relative dies…I get that, but it’s a celebrity and unless you’ve ever met them personally, I just don’t get the sense of loss.

Again: I’m not telling people how to grieve, I’m just pointing out that I don’t get it and probably never will. Sure, when my friend died I cried so many tears I think I ran out of them after awhile. It was painful, emotionally crippling, and to this day I don’t think I’ve ever completely recovered from it. I loved her dearly as only a friend could and she truly was the only woman who understood me at a deep level. This is even more than H-bomb. H-bomb gets me as well, but she’s not completely where I am with thinking about things. But this girl, my friend that died, she was basically me in female form. So yeah, that hit me pretty deeply, but I knew her. I knew what she was like, her hopes, her dreams, what kinds of foods she liked, the people she didn’t like; the music she liked, etc.

On the other hand, I generally feel nothing when a celebrity dies. They weren’t around for Christmas or new year’s, they didn’t show up to my birthday parties or even wish me a happy birthday. No, there’s none of that so consequently all I can do is feel a little sadness, mourn their passing and that we’ll never hear their voices, see their next big role, or listen to their next album…but that’s kinda it as far as they go into my life.

To be fair I do remember crying when George Carlin died, he was kind of my hero and still is on a lot of things. I got my love of language from him and how words can be used as potent weapons to either amuse, cheer someone on, or to hurt them when needed. However, I was depressed at the time and you could’ve gotten me the wrong ice cream flavor and I’d have cried my eyes out. Yeah. Depression sucks a diseased monkey’s anus.

And then there’s just death in general…I can’t deal with it. I still don’t think I’ve properly grieved over my grandmother’s passing. I loved her and she was a pistol throughout her entire life. I never truly had an appreciation for her until later in life, though, when I was an adult and could speak to her as an adult would. We would laugh, joke, I would keep her company, and she would tell me about her life in the past. I don’t know how much was real or her mis-remembering because she was going through the early stages of dementia by that point.

Also, because of my anxiety I never got to see her as much as I wanted. She was put in a nursing home in PA and as my specific anxiety involved travel…yeah…I’m forever going be sad about that until it’s my time to kick off. I never cried, I never showed any sense of the pain I felt when I saw her in the casket at her funeral. There was just…blank. I didn’t know how to react and still don’t. I do eventually plan to go to the cemetery to see her, my aunt, and my father’s mother and father. I hope I can grieve then.

I think part of the problem with what happened with my grandmother is that she wasn’t around as much and I guess when she died I had enough of an emotional distance that I could get through it easier. Or process it easier. Or maybe I haven’t processed it at all. So I don’t do death very well. My friends tell me when someone dies in their family and how sad it is and all I can give them is a half-hearted, “I’m sorry,” or if I’m feeling especially shameful that I can’t get there emotionally with them, “I’m sorry for your loss.” I really don’t know what else to say.

I barely know what to say or how to feel when one of my family members die, so I sure as hell don’t know what to say when someone else’s family members die. I realize this makes me feel and seem a little heartless and maybe I am a little bit, but I don’t think so. I can get sad when someone hurts me, when a family member or friend is sad, when they’re happy, or when they have a child. But death, though…I just can’t get there emotionally. I cried at poppy’s funeral in ’96/’97 but ever since then I’ve just been a blank slate when someone dies.

I remember quite vividly my other grandmother’s funeral in 88 or so. I remember going up to her and poking her cheek and being really weirded out for a bit at how cold she was and how much she looked like she was sleeping. I was 6 at the time and I don’t remember being at that funeral for much longer than that. I had no concept of death. I didn’t cry then either, however, the next day when it came to turn in the note to my teacher explaining my absence, I do remember crying quite a bit that day.

Since those times…nothing. Just feeling awkward like I’m the weirdo for not crying and I still feel like a weirdo for not crying over these few deaths. Soo…I don’t do death. I don’t like thinking about it, I don’t like acknowledging it (in as much a way as someone with anxiety can), and I don’t like dealing with it. I just feel very awkward because I can’t get emotionally there and thinking about what it’d be like to be dead just sends me into a near panic. You could go all religious on me and say, “You wouldn’t fear it so much if you believed in god,” to that I’d say…’ehh…maybe?

I don’t see the three Abrahamic religions as something to aspire to where death is concerned and death is the ‘reward’ because it negates your life and you’re just living to die. I’m going with Dylan Moran and concluding that religion is just a big freakout about death and dying. It offers you a reward in some mythical afterlife where everything is good and great and who wouldn’t want to die then?! But to me, that living for death also makes you a very thoughtless individual. Why worry about the planet? I’ll be dead, leave it for someone else to deal with, god promised these animals to us so kill ’em all! I eagerly await fighting infidels because I’ll be rewarded in the afterlife, and so on and so on. You see where I’m going? It gives you no incentive to treat others kindly because you’ll just be dead before long anyway and living in paradise.

I know not every follower of these faiths think this way, but a large chunk of them do, which is why we hear every year that, “God is coming to reign over us and the end times are here!” And every other crackpot thought you can think of. So even if it could alleviate my personal fear of dying, I wouldn’t be invested in living in the present at that point. My darker moments would be me wishing for my ‘reward’ instead of trying to fix them. And I probably still couldn’t get invested in anyone’s death unless I know them well or see them a lot.

Which brings me back to my original point: I don’t get the grieving over celebrities, but I won’t rag on anyone who feels something when a celebrity dies. In fact, I’m kind of envious. You can get ‘there’ and I cannot. And I hope that you never lose that ability, because as I’m increasingly finding out: it really sucks when you don’t have it.

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