Read and Reflect: Waiting for Death
Our residents are helping us kickstart our journey of reflection on the topic of mental health as we research and gather perspectives for our winter spotlight. Our team will be reading How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan, Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig, #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso, and Everything is Horrible and Wonderful: A Tragicomic Memoir of Genius, Heroin, Love, and Loss by Stephanie Wittels Wachs.
Written by Mariama Dodd.
My cousin died when he fell off a cliff trying to save his girlfriend. They had both been partying, and needless to say, they were drunk. I’ve heard that those who are inebriated while in a car accident usually don’t get hurt. This doesn’t hold true for when you fall off a cliff.
Incidentally, he was the funniest cousin, and truly the light of his parents’ lives. It still doesn’t really make any sense. I suppose it won’t for a very long time ‒ if ever. It was one of those moments in my life that I covered with a blanket of work and activities, believing that if I never thought of him, then it never happened. Most people will say that it is okay to live with uncertainty, but Stephanie Wittels Wachs made me realize in her novel, Everything is Horrible and Wonderful: A Tragicomic Memoir of Genius, Heroin, Love, and Loss, that it is better to acknowledge the pain than to hide it.
“The grieving process is...all choppy and messy and nonlinear. One emotion doesn’t neatly flow into another; it hits me suddenly, like morning sickness...the only way to make it stop is to vomit up the feeling—to feel it deeply and loudly,” perfectly sums up the pain you feel when you lose a loved one, suddenly.
After it becomes evident that you are not allowed those moments you took for granted: calling each other, touching each other, dancing together at a party, meeting his new girlfriend, the secret handshakes, the looks that only you understand...that is when death is too hard to bear.
There must be something greater than this moment of consciousness which is wrought with the indescribable weight of love and death. Even Atlas could not bear this weight on his godly shoulders.
Isn’t it funny how we are born waiting for death to arrive, but yet when he does, he rearranges everything that makes sense about the universe? All of the sudden, those who don’t believe in reincarnation are talking to squirrels because they look familiar...thinking to themselves, “Could it be that loving family member who died not even two weeks ago?”Those who thought they were atheist find themselves praying to anything for help because there must be something greater than this moment of consciousness which is wrought with the indescribable weight of love and death. Even Atlas could not hold this weight on his godly shoulders.
This is supposed to be a reflection about the book, about my response to a novel that has done something only a strong person can do: turn that absolutely black monster of death and addiction into a comedy without belittling the emotions of those left behind. And yet, all I can think is that we are born waiting for death. We are born waiting for death. We are born waiting for death!