Death is for the Living
“Death is for the Living”
My years working in an E.R trauma center had me repeating this personal mantra many times over, often several times a day. But it was one that held my emotions in check, one that made the veneer of professionalism easier to carry amid the continuing rote of horror and tragedy that plagues any E.R department. And one that was validated time after time. Though unspoken out of respect (and hospital policy) for family and friends of a deceased patient, as far as I was concerned, death was the end. No heaven. No hell. No spiritual evolving, reincarnation or awaiting planets. It was finished. Anything more done for the dead would be a ritual the living encompassed in a cultural closure.
But least I sound cold, the collective grief of those left behind is what tore at my heart strings: a mother beating on me at the loss of a child, a family lost in a car crash, an unforeseen suicide, the charred remains of a burn victim. It was these daily scenarios that saw me on my knees in tears after having reached the sanctuary of home. But the difference between people of faith and myself is they hold the hope of “life after death”.
I do not.
It was this “hope”, encased in faith and belief that I saw as prolonging the mourning period and estranging life. Of course I am not exempt from the stages of grief as so dryly and rightly/ rationally explained by science: denial, anger, etc. Many an Irish wake has seen me ritualize relief. The difference is that as an Atheist on a LHP journey, I find I move through personal loss as few do, forced by my own convictions to deal with what is at hand in the land of the living.
“Right now” is the only thing that I am sure of. Umbilical cords to a personal and faith based utopia in the clouds do little more than shut the door to obtaining the treasures and potential in this life and, and at the same time, prolong grief.
Don’t get me wrong. I have been shattered by those I have have loved and lost. It’s a nasty part of life.