On Death and The Power of Words

Through a very weird trail of links, I found out today that Sara Douglass died.  In 2011.  Yes, I’m a little behind the times.  But that’s what happens sometimes when you’re a reader.  An author you like doesn’t put out a new book and you don’t think much of it.  So they didn’t put out a new book.  Or maybe they did and you just haven’t noticed.  Or maybe they’re based in Australia, put out a new book, and it just hasn’t made it stateside yet.

For whatever reason, when I found my way to her revived website I found out she was dead, and a post there drew my eye.  It was called The Silence of Dying.  And I clicked on it.

What a powerful post.  Here I am, reading it almost six years after it was written and almost five years after the person who wrote it died, and I almost cried.  Not quite.  If I were myself struggling with a serious illness right now, I probably would’ve cried.  Instead, remembering what my dad went through and what I witnessed, I almost cried.

And decided I had to share it.

Because what she says in that post is SO TRUE.

It isn’t easy to die in this world.  Not if you take your time about it.  My father took twenty years to die.  And no one wanted to hear about how painful some of those years were.  No one wanted him to be weak.  They wanted him to keep his chin up and carry on as if his body wasn’t slowly deteriorating around him.  As if that latest surgery wasn’t going to be his potential end.

No.  Dying in this world is not a simple and easy process.  It is a lonely, painful experience that people want you to hide and that they don’t understand.

A few quotes from the post if you don’t want to click through:

“[Death] isn’t anything so noble as a ‘battle’ gallantly lost, I am afraid. It is just a brutal, frustrating, grinding, painful, demoralizing, terrifying deterioration that is generally accomplished amid great isolation.”

“After a while, and only a relatively short while, people grow bored with you not getting any better and just drift off. Phone calls stop. Visits stop. Emails stop. People drop you off their Facebook news feed. Eyes glaze when you say you are still not feeling well. Who needs perpetual bad news?”

“…too often, it is up to the sick and the dying to comfort the well and the un-dying.”

I’m sad to learn that an author I loved is gone.  But I’m glad she left these words behind.  Because even now, even so many years after her passing, they resonate with those of us who’ve experienced this or something like it.

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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