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Deadly Silence about Death

December 22, 2011

I write in the forthcoming book, Looking for Don: A Meditation:

Death is a universal phenomenon which no one can escape and yet we so rarely talk about it to the extent that many write about keeping “deadly silence” about death. Why?

I can only try to answer the question for myself. Obviously, I could not accept that Don will die; but in all candor, it was not so much for Don but for myself that I could not bring up death. I must have believed that if I talked about death, it would hasten to bring about my most dreaded fear, the fear of losing him. I could not face my life without him.

Dai Sil & Don, Wedding Rehearsal Dinner (by DSK-G)

I never feared anything more in life than Don’s death. I could not talk about it. People write about how no one can accept or think about one’s own death. For me, I could not think about Don’s death.

He can’t die as long as I am alive. It was not love. It was being selfish. It was greed that I didn’t allow Don to talk about his death. He was the one who was facing it. He must have wanted to tell me a few things but I didn’t let him.”

If anyone reading my blog has a loved one dying, please encourage him/her talk about death. It would not only help the dying person but the survivor.

If anyone is mourning the loss of the loved one, be compassionate and courageous enough to share their grief. To do so is an act of love.

Believe me, death does not take away your gratitude for being alive. It enhances the power of living.


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  1. Shelly S permalink

    I hear everything your saying, and thinking all the while “there will come healing in her writings”. How blessed you are to have had such a beautiful person in your life. My fear of this exact thing happening has kept me from having close relationships with men. The fear of getting to close…the fear of loss. So i would pick men that i knew in my heart would probably always leave…because thats what people do. whether its a break up or death…there is grief. When i read your story, i realize i would rather have those few short years with someone rather than none at all. I will continue to venture into your log, and excited to get to know more about you…and Don 🙂

    • Dear Shelly,

      Thanks for writing to me. It means a lot that somebody out there was touched by what I wrote about Don and myself. Fear is a terrible thing that restricts life’s possibilities. If you wanted to stay away from serious relationships for the fear of losing, you are letting life pass by right in front of your eyes without living it fully. You would not have said: “I didn’t want to be born for the fear of death,” would you have? For anyone who was born, death awaits but we all live. I am so glad that my writing helped you to want to have a relationship even at the risk of losing it.
      True that I lost Don to death but I didn’t lose his love. I love him more deeply now in his death than ever before. Go find your Don!
      With thanks. Dai Sil

  2. The truth of your words are so powerful that I am moved beyond belief. I agree with Shelly that your healing will come through your writings and will in turn help to heal the world. I look forward to reading your blog and your new book.

    • Dear Staci,
      I am deeply touched that you found truth and power in my words. That is because, I like to believe, I meant every word I wrote. I am also thankful that persons such as you and Shelly believe that my writing will help heal me. If healing means getting rid of my deep grief for my loss, i am not sure I will be healed by I will be healed in the form of courage and strength to live with grief and share my love for Don. It is love that will heal the world and people. yes, let us try to heal the world with love. thanks. Dai Sil

  3. For my part, I resist talking about difficult things because on some level I worry that to do so would risk having my pains and fears validated. At their worst, death and the profound grief that accompanies it look like a bottomless void that just goes on and on. We feel alone in our fear and cannot imagine that talking about it would help, since the one thing we most desperately want — assurance that we will not now or ever lose the person we love — is impossible and to pursue any other line of discourse would appear doomed to leave us, at best, unsatisfied and, at worst, even lonelier and more desolate than we were to begin with.

    But I think that the contemplation of others on the subject of death offers us, if not a solution, the valuable gift of reframing, of perspective, as with Rossiter Raymond’s wonderful poem, that ends: “Life is eternal and love is immortal, and death is only a horizon, and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.” Opening ourselves up – standing, as you say, naked before strangers – and sharing our experiences may help us view grief not as a void but as a lens through which to see our love for others more clearly. I believe your writing, painful as it may be, is already and will continue to be a blessing to those also experiencing loss and perhaps will be an inspiration to them to share their own experiences.

    • Dear Lena,

      I understand your fear of talking about difficult things. What would be more difficult than death, especially that of the loved one?
      I remember the day when Don said to me in the Intensive Care Unit of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, “Dai Sil, Don’t be mad. You will find our will in the right hand drawer of my desk.” Every time I remember this, which is often, I become utterly helpless with sadness. When he said that, I was not mad but I was in fear, the fear that paralized me. I could not talk about what might be coming to him, death, let alone help Don talk about his death. . .

      To open up oneself to share grief is difficult. It is also difficult to share other people’s grief. I feel such warm comfort from what you wrote that I help others to “view grief not as a void but lens through which to see our love.” What more can I say after that?

      With all my thanks.
      Dai Sil

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