“You Get What Everyone Gets; You Get a Lifetime.”

Posted on | September 2, 2011 | 7 Comments |

I’m off to a wake this afternoon. And somewhat appropriately, my latest Express column is all about grief and, slowly, moving on.

I wrote it before Kiana’s partner died last week. It wasn’t written for anyone other than me, really. But there is always someone dying (trite and sad, but very true), and always someone who will need those words.

I had one line that kept repeating itself the Wednesday night before. It was a very late evening as Hylas and I went with Kiana to her partner’s house, as we gave our condolences to his wife and (adult) children, as we took Kiana off to Takapuna Beach and hugged her and walked with her past midnight along the surf.  And that long late evening Death strolled through my head reminding me that “you get what everyone gets; yet a lifetime”. She’s right. You do. He did. Alas, that doesn’t make it easier for those still living theirs.

Though I’ve not met Death myself, she’s wandered through my life a lot. As I waited outside the crematorium on Monday I tried to count up funerals – I lost count past ten, but have definitely passed fifteen and maybe twenty. There has been family, friends, and supporting friends who have lost family and friends. Old age and cancers and suicides and stillbirths and heart attacks and AIDS and more. And there will be more.

Different people grieve differently. And different people can support that grief differently. As Hylas and I looked out for Kiana that night, I noticed that we were there in the way that often only people who’ve also lost ones close to them can be: close without intimidating, nearby but without asking unneeded questions, supportive but not overbearing.

When you’ve been there, you know what it’s like. You know it’s different every time. And all you can do is help the people you love as they grieve in their own way.

So I’m off to a wake this afternoon. A kinky, brightly-coloured, wake to celebrate the lifetime of someone who was well-loved.

What else can you do?

Death, and the above artwork, is from the Neil Gaiman series ‘The Sandman‘. If you’ve not had the pleasure of reading this seminal work, please rectify immediately.

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7 Responses to ““You Get What Everyone Gets; You Get a Lifetime.””

  1. Dangerous Lilly
    September 2nd, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

    I think that’s why so many people are so uncomfortable when dealing with the grieving parties – because you never know what is “right”.

    I was 20 when I lost my father. The chaotic hour after I found him, surrounded by midnight ambulances and neighbors and haunting phone calls to family, I was a mess. By the time I’d summoned my best friend to come to me from 45 mins away….I didn’t want what most might expect. You’d expect I’d want comfort, to cry and wail and be held. Most would expect that. No, once we three were away from the chaos I wanted to play board games until I passed out from exhaustion.

    At the funeral, I rebuffed condolences, I refused to look at anybody who was crying, I stared at the ceiling and counted cracks to stop my own tears. The only thing that anybody did halfway right that day was, ironically, my father’s sister and their dad. They came from a family rife with mental problems, allergic to familial closeness, emotionally fucked up. Yet they were the only people that day I spoke to. They had no tears, they had no empty words; they brought me his baby book and a couple of old photos.

    *sigh* Anyways. My condolences to Kiana.

  2. Musns
    September 2nd, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

    Grief truly is different for everyone and the way those who love the person grieving react can make it even harder.

    When my SO died last winter, I wanted comfort but then 3-4 hours later I wanted to be alone. I couldn’t convince my best friend to leave, I was nice…”You don’t have to stay with me…” and was told, “But I WANT to be with you.” Sighs. I had to take a shower to escape, to be alone. Then the pleasantries in the following weeks of how are you doing, really – when in fact most don’t want to know.

    I’m glad that Kiana has you and Hylas to comfort in the best way, “close without intimidating, nearby but without asking unneeded questions, supportive but not overbearing.” Well wishes and supportive thoughts to her and her family and to you and those who are supporting her in this time of grief.

  3. KaziGrrl
    September 2nd, 2011 @ 11:52 pm

    I have met Death… staring out of the eyes of those caught in His grip, hours or days before they passed. It’s a cold, ugly glint to the eye that I can’t describe any better than that, but I know it when I see it…

    I have a very non-typical reaction to the occasion of Death, much like Lilly’s. I don’t want condolences or hangers-on, because they never know what to say, and I don’t/can’t cry.

    It sounds as though you had a wonderful way to celebrate Kiana’s partner’s life. That’s what I think one should do… rather than mourn the passing. It is an inevitable part of life, after all.

  4. RJS
    September 3rd, 2011 @ 1:00 am

    Delightful Dee, I’ve “rubbed shoulders” with death a few times. (And it was cold and clammy.) Although death is part of life, it still “sucks.” Celebrating someone’s life with a wake, is a wonderful way to honor them. And to also heal yourself.

  5. Dee
    September 4th, 2011 @ 5:46 pm

    Thank you all for taking the time to comment here. It is hugely appreciated.

    xx Dee

  6. PonyRide933
    September 5th, 2011 @ 3:15 am

    Thanks for taking the time to post this. I’m sorry for your loss.

  7. Dee
    September 5th, 2011 @ 10:40 am

    You’re welcome, PonyRide. *hugs*

    xx Dee


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