How do we navigate the little deaths? The ones which creep behind and stop our breath.
I’m talking of the things we lose, the people, places we wouldn’t choose
under normal circumstances, to part with.
Looking at Twitter the other night, I noticed that a chap I follow hadn’t tweeted for a while. I used to love the quotes he chose, his gentle life-affirming prose. Scrolling down the page it looked as though he hadn’t been online for quite some time.
I tried to find some recent words, not a re-tweet but a post written by him, and this is what came up:
Love my friends. 🙂 Be good to each other. Peace. 🙂
Shall be away for a while in hospital… his previous tweet began. He’d not been well at all.
After this, his account is silent.
What happens when the string of tweets runs dry? Are we to cry, and mourn the passing of a friend we knew only from 140 characters ?
I sometimes ask myself how long it would take to notice the absence of another on social media. And what then? Virtual communities hold not the flesh of real life hellos and hugs and a person’s absence may equally be from boredom, busy-ness as something graver.
I have, for the past two years, been writing a mystery set in Madrid and as I wrote I became interested in loss and how we process grief. What happens when the pain’s pushed down, the masks we wear to hide the shame coat and cover the bewildered frown?
This week, I quit my job. I had been hoping to teach for at least a year in Oman but something came up which shook my confidence in the school. I spoke to the head but the compassion I expected did not materialize. The well of care ran dry. After a few days I did not return.
These little deaths in daily life inhabit the body. They form a kind of coating of our cells. And until we take the time to dwell in their sharp poignancy they grey our waking minds, restrict and bind.
The people of Madrid, at the outset of my novel, are mourning the death of a local celebrity. They hang banners with her initials from their apartment windows, talk of her with a single name, as though they knew her personally.
But grief is as much the mourning of our losses from every day, as the funeral carriage, the thousands at the graveside and their sway.
This blogpost is dedicated to TygerBurning, a person I never met but whose tweets illuminated my day.