May has taken hold in Minnesota with warm temperatures, very little rain and lots of sunshine. The lake is being swallowed up by weeds already, but the birds and frogs are conversing, the wildflowers are holding up their brightly colored arms in triumph, Jack in the Pulpit has returned to the shady parts of the woods and the crab apple trees are flaunting their beauty as only a flowering apple tree can. Life is emerging and flowing and thriving in every direction, and it shows no sign of letting up.
But in the midst of all this growth and aliveness, there is death, too. The river has claimed another young life. A dear friend lost her brother. A family in the community mourns a son. Cancer took a friend of a friend sooner than anyone thought it would. The sweet spring air is laced with a sense of loss, and it is jarring to try to find one’s balance as the beauty and vibrancy of a new season sits next to the sadness and grief of death.
We feel for the ones who lost those dear to them in unexpected ways. We wonder how to give our support, we are unsure of what to say. We suspect that simply showing up and feeling the enormity of what has happened is what is important, but we don’t have a road map for navigating something that has never happened before. No one does. Every death is new, never to be repeated. Like every birth, every blossoming, every newly unfurled leaf, death leaves us gasping in astonishment. It shows us the amazement of life, and it shows us the fragility. It offers these things to us as another’s life passes on into whatever comes next.
Death, ultimately is about life, you can’t have one without the other. And just as life can be messy, painful,chaotic, wild and joyous so can death. ~Solyvida
Just as there is unfathomable beauty in life, so too is there agony, pain and suffering. And just as there is unfathomable agony, pain and suffering tied to death, so too is there beauty, in a way. Not a beauty that those who are close to the ones who have passed can see in the moments, days or months of raw grief, but perhaps rather a beauty that emerges as a life, no matter how long, is celebrated. It comes out, perhaps, in a community that comes together to support each other in the midst of heartache. It comes out, perhaps, when we can remember that a human life is much bigger than a bodily human death. Perhaps the beauty comes out in the transformation that happens whether we want it to or not.
Meghan O’Rourke writes,
It’s not a question of getting over it or healing. No; it’s a question of learning to live with this transformation. For the loss is transformative, in good ways and bad. It’s a tangle of change that cannot be threaded into the usual narrative spools. It is too central for that. It’s not an emergence from the cocoon, but a tree growing around an obstruction.