Saturday, August 25, 2007

Death out of the closet

One of the times that I miss Chris the most is on Saturday mornings when we used to read the Globe & Mail together over brunch. We each had our own order in which we read the different sections and orchestrated an unwritten choreography of passing along read sections and sharing tidbits we knew would be of interest to the other as we turned the pages.

It is only in the past couple of weeks that I have begun to have any interest in current events and am able to muster the attention span required to read a weekend paper cover-to-cover as we used to do. I often read articles that would have been of interest to Chris and stop myself from my usual "listen to this..." when I realize that he is not beside me, nose buried in the Review section and savouring his first cup of free trade Peruvian.

This morning's G&M had an interesting story entitled The Modern Way of Mourning which discusses changes in North American mourning - from private to public - as embodied in things such as roadside memorials for accident victims and Facebook tributes. I too am a participant in this change by creating this blog in memory of Chris where friends and family can share stories and grief. I must admit that I am still conflicted by this decision to "let it all hang out".

Our 20th century WASP culture has been very private about grief and death. Like money, politics and religion, it was not something discussed in "polite" society. I took a sociology course at college entitled Death Out of the Closet - a fascinating study on the cultural and sociological history of death and grief in Western society. One of our assignments included writing our own obituary and we even had a field trip to a funeral home. The teacher helped us to understand society's fears and misconceptions about the rituals of death - no mean feat for a group of adolescents who planned to live forever!

I guess we all have a line that we draw, past which we do not feel comfortable. That line is obviously different for everyone. There are things that I do not and will not share in this blog - memories and emotions that are mine alone to carry. I have looked at other widow(er)/grief/bereavement blogs in the past month. Some are startlingly naked in their disclosure; others have been abandoned with the passing of time. All are fascinating. The face of grief changes constantly…

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