We are surrounded by it. It’s all around us. We swim in it. Are consumed by it.
From the moment we are born, we are heading towards it. No one knows when it will take us, but like a constant companion or trusted friend, it never fails to ask for its due.
We all end.
Endings give life meaning. The impermanence of it all anchors our identities to the reality of bone, skin, mass and molecules. Some of us (me included) get consumed by the past and panicked at the thought of a future yet to be written, but this is all part of the process. We still don’t know where consciousness comes from and what purpose it serves the bigger picture; and we might be living in a simulation controlled by beings of unimaginable power, but in this little slice of life, shit matters. It matters.
I recently experienced a loss. It was quick, immediate, unforeseen. Death dived in and took someone close to me. I didn’t hug him or say goodbye. We didn’t sit by his bedside while he passed. We weren’t allowed. He died in a room full of strangers. No family. I hope he was greeted by loved ones that had gone before, but as my days grow shorter, I am not so sure anymore.
There was no funeral. No sitting in a church or crematorium, fidgeting uncomfortably, willing the tears back. We stood in the car park and watched him arrive. And that was it. 71 years of life reduced to a 10-minute reading (which was beautiful, don’t get me wrong) and a viewing in the car park. Close family members only. Not the 100’s of people that loved and respected him. No great send off.
I am not angry that it happened this way. I understand the reasons why. It was right. But we haven’t had closure. His book stands open on the last page. We are in limbo.
As an artist, I have taken to making things to try and conceptualise my grief. I developed a series of 1-minute films exploring the different stages of grief, I have worked with my best friend and colleague Sarah Lockwood to construct some spoken word text, and in the coming weeks will collaborate with another friend on a new self-produced short film and soundscape.
I am grateful for the people around me. I probably don’t speak to them as much as I should, however I have never been a talker. I am a ruminator. I fester.