Things To Never Talk About


Sure, intellectually, we all know that we will each die; but that’s decades away and nothing to concern ourselves with.

That people who know and love will die. Again, it’s tempting to wave it away as being long off, but often, it’s not. It could be as direct as a vehicular accident or as sudden as discovering end stage cancers.

In many ways, a quick, sudden and unexpected death is the best – you have the sudden shock and the aftermath to deal with.

No watching a person waste away for months or years, dying slowly and being removed from life activities by degree – limited by energy, stamina, lucidity. Worse, not even a steady decline, but a rollercoaster of being unwell, stabalizing, getting worse and that becoming the new normal.

Always in denial, always with a smile, pretending as if the new normal is here to stay. Until it doesn’t.

It is a difficult situation, coming to grips with death.

The news is full of brave people fighting and losing battles with failing health, and while good for them, I have to wonder, what’s the option? What is the alternative to being brave and fiercely cheerful, ready to battle to the bitter end, to face the dark night, to take the dirt nap unafraid.

Attitude doesn’t change the outcome, but it might impact the quality of the journey. To feel like you’ve not left any unfinished business; to ensure that no one you love has unfinished business with you.

That’s the rub. Do you talk over the past, no matter how painful? To make sure there was no misunderstanding, to apologize, to justify, to make amends.

Worse, what if there is no memory of the events that haunt you on the part of the other family or friends. Can you let it go? Remind them?

Perhaps death is the perspective needed to remind us of how unimportant that conflict, separation, differences, even long standing family arguments and battles really are.

Which begs the question, when faced with the loss of a loved one – immediate or more slowly, is there a point to rehash the past or should you just get on with the facts on the ground of the present and future?



8 thoughts on “Things To Never Talk About

  1. Ok then. Here it is. You NAIL it. We can’t talk about it and we should but what if the person dying is an alcoholic with dementia who abused you and you are their primary caretaker? We ignore death and especially grief in our culture of ‘youth’. We live in ‘small talk land’ and answering honestly, “how are you?” is verboten. We are supposed to say, ‘fine. you?’ and move on. It is a messed up situation at best. My mother is dying and she was an abuser and I have facts and memory and gaps in memory too. I want some sort of CLOSURE What kind of word is that anyway? and how to get it ? Do I need it? Does my mother? No one talks about it. nope. just hanging there; hanging there. We had a family member commit suicide and I was amazed at how many people have lived through the same thing BUT did NOT talk about it. I have ‘my God’ and dont start in on what problems that causes. My god can be dirt one day and lemonade the next. So be it. So left hanging…. grief before the grief hanging…. I love this post!

    • I agree – and worse – my uncle killed himself, its the only explanation to fit the facts of his death – yet everyone clings to the coroner’s ruling of accidental death. I just can’t accept, given the circumstances, that it was an accident.

      My uncle froze to death in a van outside of the only post office in Valmont, BC. There were no drugs or alcohol, no footprints other than his in the snow around his van. There were other signs, calling people to hash over real and imagined childhood slights, leading up to it. It would have been a painless death, just fall asleep and let the propane overwhelm you or let it run out and freeze in your sleep.

      He’d been an outdoorsman, camping, fishing, he knew about propane, I just don’ t think he wanted to go on and I don’t think he wanted anyone to be hurt by his death.

      But, we did, we did all get hurt, but we don’t talk about it.

  2. Pingback: Things To Never Talk About | Random Ntrygg | Teddy Lyrics Annette Funicello

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  4. It is a difficult subject to talk about in blunt terms but literature has been dominated by these themes. You may find interesting the book ‘Death, Desire and Loss in Western Civilisation’. You may have read it in which case ignore the recommendation. As Orson Welles once said ‘There are no happy endings.’

  5. You pose a really deep question here. I suppose the answer is “it depends.” My dad died several years ago after a long battle with cancer. We never really had any “battles” between us to resolve, but there were times when I was angry at him. (just like any other person in the world) Even though he was wasting away, there was always hope that he would beat the cancer. In other words, despite the length of time it took, I never had the “he’s going to die tonight so you’d better make sure you’ve said all you want to say” notice. But, because I had told him how much I loved him the last time I saw him, I felt a sense of relief knowing that I didn’t have some awful drama looming over my head that could never be worked through.
    On the other hand, a friend of mine who lost her father unexpectedly when she was a teenager, has carried guilt with her for years about their last interaction being a fight. So in addition to her grief, she had regrets about the things she could never say. And now, instead of being able to try and hash those things out with the other involved party, she had to work through the conflict on her own.
    I think you have to decide for yourself what you can live with or live without. If you would regret not attempting to set things right, that might be a hint to try to come up with a resolution. But if you try to have the conversation and the other person’s memory is far different than yours, you can still try to express how you felt. If the other person refuses to hear your side – even if he or she doesn’t agree, if you present it in a way that isn’t a person attack, that person should at least be willing to listen.
    I think you just have to ask yourself if you’ve said everything you need to say. If you feel like you’ll regret not saying something, you should probably say it while you still can. But if you know there can be no resolution, it might be better to come to terms with that and accept things as they are. And people as they are.
    Best to you.

    • I lean towards the things are what they are and each of us is who we are. The Universe will as it will.

      My spouse’s father, refused to put the fight aside, even on his death bed.

      My father’s health is failing him and it’s not a fight, but a long ago childhood memory that has haunted me. I have to decide if it’s worth bringing up because I don’t know that he’ll remember or maybe it’s too painful for him too.

      I just don’t know if it;s worthwhile, it won’t really change anything and will just drudge up a difficult time from long ago

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