I’m finding it really difficult to not start off on a tangent (although, I’m very much aware that I already am). The title I just wrote has opened itself up to possible discussions about the female monthly.
“Is he going to talk about women crying for and about menstrual cramps?”
No, he is not. He is going to talk about death. Yaaay!
Last night, over a few glasses of wine, my highschool friends and I came to a part of the discussion that zoomed in on death, and loss. Or rather, I came to start talking about that part. I was zoned out for a good chunk of the conversation and only whisked myself back to reality after (partially) hearing the story of a family still mourning the death of their son – one year after the fact.
I asked (in quite a “mean and heartless” way, as it was pointed out) what, if any, was the proper and socially acceptable period of mourning necessary to show the appropriate amount of grief without being over-wrought, or basically becoming a less glamorous version of those professional wailers found in India.
Just to make the thought experiment easier to digest, I suggested that we put in some reminders about the impermanence of life and other limiting details for our sample mourners:
– people know everyone’s going to die sooner or later
– the person who’s going to die knows it’s coming, as well; it won’t be sudden
– remove the “idea” of age (it should not matter if it’s a parent that buries a child, or the other way round)
A few people in the group were caught up on that last one because, according to them, it wasn’t “natural”. Of course, I had to disagree with this and argued that there’s no such thing as “natural” or “normal” when it comes to “when” it will happen. Our own preference to see babies grow up to be adults and become their parents’ retirement plans is something that is markedly a very Filipino way of looking at things.
Other societies, ranging from forest dwelling tribes people to Inuits to Ancient Greeks (as well as elephant and chimpanzee societies, if we consider other parts of the animal kingdom) would have an equally strong opinion going the other way – that adults should save themselves first rather than the children because an adult can make more children; kids by themselves are going to die anyway.
Fun Fact: mothers are statistically far more likely than fathers to commit infanticide.
But I digress.
Going back to the original question: how long of a mourning period is long enough? If you don’t mourn, you’re an asshole. If you mourn for too long, you’re an overdramatic asshole.
In the same way, would it lead to the conclusion that a person who does not mourn (at all!) is more practical, and is made from better fibre than the average Joe. After all, as already mentioned, we are all going to die anyway. Would this non-crying ubermensch actually be what we all should strive to be?
No remorse, no pain, no regret. No disappointment, no drama. It was bound to happen anyway, so why bother getting sad.
Now, the kicker.
By extension, should we also have the same reaction (or lack of reaction) for other losses in life? A lost love, a failed business, lost projects. Money, family. Again, just about anything that you can categorize into the “disappointment” basket.
What do you think?