Death strikes at some elemental parts of the way we think.

The other day I overheard a couple of folks talking about a recent drowning at an area lake. I don’t recall the circumstances of the tragedy but what I do remember is one of the people making the statement that “At least they found the body” albeit after a couple of days. As so often happens this set me pondering how we humans think and act.

See, the good fortune in “finding the body” is indicative of our need for order and closure and to settle our psyche regarding an event that assaults all three of these valuable things.

I’m convinced that despite my tendencies toward slovenliness I, like a lot of other people, really do want order in my life. Sure, sometimes I’m terrible with keeping things picked up and I don’t police my area very much but eventually I want everything in its place. It’s no different with our need to have things as they should be in our world and there’s something that’s just not right with not having our loved one’s body to bury. I’ve never been there but I’m certain that the Tomb of the Unknowns was created for just that purpose. I imagine for those whose family member or friend just didn’t come back from over there, having a place to go and being in the company of others who wrestle with those feelings gives comfort.

We all feel the need to finish things. Although I’ve left many things undone and abandoned in my life I still think that statement is true. Unfinished things are the rock in our shoe that just won’t go away. Sometimes any small victory, like saying, “That’s done” can start us on the path to moving on and recovery. It may seem small to others but to those who know the sting and ache of loss, having put that one thing right, having honored the one lost by laying them to rest allows us to lay some of our grief to rest also. As so often happens, what it all gets down to is having peace in our own minds.

We want to do right by our loved one and we do want to somehow at least begin to move on but part of this need is self-preservation. We are caring for ourselves in a world that sometimes seems bent on crushing us. Because, let’s face it, no one gets out of life alive. For most of us, despite religious assurances to the contrary, we fear death as the end. I don’t know about you but for me I’ve always been troubled by it. I know it’s the end for my body here on earth and I know what religion says about eternal life but I have varying degrees of success and failure resolving my emotions surrounding each one. Somehow I want to make this event, this finality, freak me out a just a little bit less. What I’m really trying to do is take control of an act, dying, that I feel so little control over. Now I know you’re saying, “Well, Doug, just eat a few less French fries you lout” but this isn’t that. This reconciliation defies cause and effect, it’s not an equation. I find myself searching for something tangible to harness an intangible thing; something that I don’t know how it all goes or ends for me.

So, finding the body “at least” is a victory over the fate that robbed us of any more time with the lost. It is real, tangible and we can attempt to make sense of what we will never be able to explain or describe first hand. It’s part of the human condition that never ceases to change and amaze me.

I’m pretty sure that didn’t make you feel any better about death but maybe it helped unpack some of your emotions around it. If it did, I’m glad and if you know someone that might be up for this type of soul searching, please pass it along to them.

Every week I blog about life and experiences and all sorts of stuff that worms its way into my noggin. If you would like to read more, click here and you’ll go the home page of my blog. And if you like what you read there I hope you’ll subscribe. Subscribing is free and just means you’ll get an email on Saturdays with links to that week’s posts. You can do that at the home page or by clicking this and please don’t worry, I never sell or share emails so you won’t get a bunch of spam