Alex Roque

Writer By Night

In Memoriam


“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” — Marcus Tulius Cicero

Almost exactly a year ago, I made a post on a blog I hardly used, talking about my first funeral since I had decided that I was an atheist. I was raised Catholic, and dealing with funerals and death seemed to have a different feeling to it – they are in a better place, they are with God now, they are with their loved ones, etc.

But when my neighbor from my old neighborhood, who had been like an adopted grandma, passed away, I was hit with the realization that those words didn’t mean to me what they did to everyone else.

That was a very surreal moment. I stood there at the grave site, crying, because to me, there wasn’t a better place, this was it. She was gone. And that was really hard to deal with. I hadn’t been to a funeral in ten years before that, so this is partly why it was all a wave of new emotions.

I bring this up now because this weekend a neighbor where we live now passed away. She was on the first floor of our apartment building, with her porch covered in flowers and little sippers for hummingbirds. She was sitting outside every morning when I walked the dog, and we would always talk, and she was always so sweet.

Her death was unexpected, a seizure that stopped her heart. Her family is distraught, and it’s hard to say anything right at times like this. I feel like all I can do is offer my sympathies and help with anything they need, because saying those words like “She’s in a better place” just doesn’t feel right to say, even though I know it would be a comfort to them.

I’m not sure what the point of this post is, to be honest, except to just ramble a bit on how short life really is, and I feel like I forget that sometimes, and that I need to slow down and enjoy it, and appreciate the time I have with those around me. And everyone else should, too.

Rest in Peace, Mimi. We’ll keep taking care of the hummingbirds.


3 thoughts on “In Memoriam

  1. When my dad died two years ago, he was no longer Catholic but that side of the family really *is*. I’m an atheist but I had no say in planning the funeral since I’m out of town and had to fly down for it. It was a small service at the local church and it was extremely religious.

    There were moments when the words “he’s in a better place” made me want to stop and sock people in the face, because no he wasn’t. His death was sudden and he had plans. He had shit to do. He had band practice. That was where he’d have chosen to be, not dead and gone. It’s an incredibly automatic thing people say and it’s probably the least helpful thing I’ve ever heard.

    But at the same time, those platitudes helped my grandma and my dad’s sister, and it was what they needed to hear. So while I disagreed, I managed to keep it to myself, but it’s not something I’d day to anyone else.

    What I’ve learned from my own experiences and talking to other friends, is that best thing you can do for someone is to acknowledge their grief, however you’re comfortable doing so. It can be as simple as “my condolences,” “and I’m sorry for your loss.”

    • Also sorry about your neighbor and my condolences to her friends and family. Life really is so short and it’s something that panics me sometimes, but there’s a lot of truth in making the most of every day. *hugs*

    • I’m so sorry about your dad. :( *hughughug*

      But that’s exactly why I just don’t feel right saying those phrases. I think I will just stick with offering condolescences.

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