Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.”
Today’s prompt: WHY
“Why aren’t you crying harder?”
This is the worry the author of the current book I’m reading, The Girl with Seven Names, had when she was gathered with her schoolmates after learning of the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
She said (I’m paraphrasing here…) “My survival skills kicked in. Everyone else was crying hard and I wasn’t. I knew I would be singled out for not being distraught enough.” (Fast forward to later when peers of hers who weren’t considered “upset enough” were punished, some by hanging (I think — it was an audiobook and I was in traffic!). She put on her best thespian skills and worked up the look of grief. She was not ultimately punished. (This article talks about that time in North Korea.)
I was talking with dear lifelong friends tonight about our expectations of what happens when a loved one is dying and afterwards. I was commenting about how none of the three deaths I’ve experienced between my mother-in-law, my father-in-law and now my mom has fit that stereotypical “passed peacefully surrounded by family” vision that is so frequently referred to in obituaries.
The background thought in my head was “why am I not crying more?” I can’t explain that very well. I adored my mother and appreciated her more than she ever fully understood. But the last few years have given me a different perspective on death than I had prior to these three deaths.
[End of five minutes]
There is an entire different set of “why” questions related to how the events of the past two months ended with her death, but those are not likely to ever have clear answers.
For now, my personal approach isn’t so much to ask why I am grieving the way I am grieving, but to ask how I can best serve my father through a searing transition and what I can do to carry on her legacy of intelligence, kindness, patience, and generosity.
This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.
Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many. My pronouns are she/her/hers.