What Are We Afraid Of?

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on April 22, 2009

Some not so happy news this morning.

Eric and I are off to a funeral up north this morning for my Great Aunt Bun.

We heard of her passing earlier this week. I didn’t know her very well as we moved around a lot when I was growing up, but what I do remember of her is that she was a vibrant, outgoing, smiling, and loving person with the biggest heart that you have ever seen. She had a long and happy life.

I guess that is all that we can ask for.

I think my mom is taking it quite hard as she grew up with Aunt Bun and was very close to her. Luckily, during my mom’s last visit only a month ago, she was able to see Aunt Bun and visit with her. My mom knew that her condition was deteriorating so she wanted to spend as much time with her as possible. Aunt Bun was having a good day and felt well too, so my mom was especially happy about this. Most people don’t have this opportunity to say goodbye.

So rather than omitting this part of my life from you all, I decided to talk about it even though I admit, it does make me feel anxious.

I find that the subject of death is so very often considered taboo in our society. And I wonder why.

What is so taboo about death? Why is it uncomfortable to talk about?

I will be the first to admit that I have a hard time talking openly about my feelings. Sure, I may seem pretty good at it on this blog, but when it comes to a face to face discussion, I am often lost for words.

Last summer, our family lost a dear friend, Chris, who was only in his 20’s when he passed away to cancer. I often find myself afraid to talk about him for fear of upsetting people all over again.

The other day Eric and I were going through our memory box (it is a wooden box I gave to Eric as a gift that we put all of our letters and cards in) and Chris’s obituary fell out. I saved the obituary that was given out at his funeral. It was a picture of him on the cover with details about his life on the inside.

It fell out, in plain view, Chris was looking at us with his beautiful eyes. Silence both fell over us and I felt myself welling up with tears.

And you know what? We never said anything. I guess we were both afraid of the emotions that we felt inside us. Perhaps, the wound is still too fresh.

But at the same time, I was mad at myself for not being able to talk about it. What am I so afraid of? And why was I afraid to post about our funeral today?

I guess one of my goals for 2009 is to learn to embrace my feelings and not be afraid of them.

Do you find it hard to talk about death? Why do you think this is so?

So, off we go. I am looking forward to seeing my mom and being there for her today. I think she is relieved to have me there for support.

The happy news is that I get to spend Friday and Saturday with my mom and stepdad as they are staying over here at our place. It will be nice to visit with them.

My mom and I already have a huge ‘bake-off’ planned for Friday. :) That should be a blast.

I will be posting again sometime late this afternoon/early evening. My mom is staying up north for the night so I will have some time to kill before her return.


“The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else; it is a mainspring of human activity – designed largely to avoid the fatality of death, to overcome it by denying in some way that it is the final destiny of man.” ~Ernest Becker

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

caitlin April 23, 2009 at 7:23 am

i’m sorry about your aunt and your friend. i think people are afraid of death because no one really knows what comes with it — people have their beliefs, but those are just guesses. i hope your aunt and friend are resting peacefully wherever they may be.



VeggieGirl April 23, 2009 at 7:57 am

Angela, I’m terribly sorry about your loss – stay strong and hang in there.


Lauren April 23, 2009 at 8:12 am

I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I know it can be very difficult for people to talk about death. My mom always told me that people WANT to talk about their lost loved ones. Although it may make them upset, in a way, they enjoy talking about them. They enjoy thinking back, looking at the memories they shared. You never want to ignore it and not talk about it, because then family members may think you’ve forgotten. Think of someone close to you who you have lost. I’m sure you think about them often, and would probably want to talk to people about your memories/emotions. And if you bring something up, and people shut you down, never feel bad. At least they know that you care and are thinking about them. You can never go wrong telling someone that you miss a loved one.
This is a very tough topic for everyone. Again, I’m very sorry for your family’s loss.


haya April 23, 2009 at 8:26 am

sorry about your (and your mom’s) loss. death sucks and it sucks that it is something we have to face again and again.

a year and a half into our relationship, an old girlfriend of my partner’s died suddenly of some acute form of leukemia (she was diagnosed on sunday and died on wed). she was only 22 and 4 months away from getting her engineering degree. it was so sad and it was hard for me to deal with let alone help jon get through even though i didn’t know her well at all. talking helps so much. i definitely think that these things strengthen our relationship.


Priyanka April 23, 2009 at 8:31 am

I am terribly sorry about the loss Angela! Take care of your mom, you and your mom are brave women and with you by her side she will tide over this day!


Leah @ Simply Fabulous Now April 23, 2009 at 8:33 am

I’m sorry hun, I had no idea she had passed away.


Sheri April 23, 2009 at 8:59 am

So sorry for your loss Angela! Funerals are So hard! I am sure this will be a tough day for you…hang in there!


TorontoGirloutWest April 23, 2009 at 9:00 am

Oh Angela – I’m so sorry! For both your recent losses! :(


Lara (Thinspired) April 23, 2009 at 9:09 am

Deepest condolences to you for the loss of your great Aunt, Angela. I am so sorry to hear that. I don’t know why we are so afriad of death and afraid to talk about it…it really is part of life. I am glad that your aunt had a long and happy life and I hope you are able to celebrate that life at her service. Hugs!


brandi April 23, 2009 at 9:14 am

I’m sorry to hear about that!

I think it’s always hard to talk about death or someone you’ve lost, regardless how long it’s been. It’s such a painful territory for people, to remember people that are no longer here, and it takes a long time to be able to talk about people you’ve lost without getting super emotional (or it is for me, at least).


Mara @ What's For Dinner? April 23, 2009 at 9:26 am

I’m so sorry hon… losing a friend or relative is hard no matter how close you were in life. Losing my grandmother was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through… HUGS


Valerie April 23, 2009 at 9:38 am

I’m sorry for your loss.

I find it difficult to talk about death just because of losing my grandma two and a half years ago. She was the first person to die that I was really close with and I took it very hard, so it kind of reminds me of her passing. Before that, I didn’t really have a specific family member/friend to associate with the concept of death and it wasn’t a big deal to talk about it, but when death suddenly equals my grandma passing away, it’s more difficult to think about.


Amy April 23, 2009 at 9:52 am

Dear Angela,

My father died when I was just 14. After his passing, I was overwhelmed by the acts of kindness from my friends, family, and random strangers. People were not afraid to acknowledge my loss, offer their condolences, and share their favorite memories of my father. It made me feel so loved and also honored to be his daughter. So, please do not be afraid to talk about those who have passed with their loved ones – I can say from experience that that was integral to my healing.


Jenna April 23, 2009 at 9:52 am

I hope you are doing well and you enjoy your weekend with your family.


Marissa April 23, 2009 at 9:55 am

Sorry for your loss.

I don’t speak about loved ones or friends passing on because there are no words to adequately describe the way I feel about people I’ve lost. Their lives were so much more than any few words I can cobble together. For me, it’s not about not wanting to talk about death…it’s the belief that some experiences (like births and deaths) and some people are so much bigger than words.


carolinebee April 23, 2009 at 10:04 am

so sorry Angela..I empathize with you and your family deeply. I think that many people are ready for death when they go, and it (hopefully) isn’t a scary place..but it’s just so hard for the people left behind that have to go on and live and learn to cope with a feeling of emptiness and sadness and their lives. I guess that’s why we have ourloved ones to support us during that time, and hopefully gives us extra reason to hold them closer and appreciate each other :)


Leila April 23, 2009 at 10:13 am

Sorry to hear about your Aunt. I used to find it difficult to talk about death, but after the passing of a very close aunt (a second mom of sorts) I found it much easier because when talking about someone who has passed I was talking more of the great life they lived and the times spent with them rather than their death.


Sara April 23, 2009 at 10:28 am

Hi Angela,

I’m so sorry for the loss of your aunt and your friend. I’ve dealt with a lot of loss in my life, beginning with the loss of my father over 21 years ago (when I was 8 1/2). We talk about him and everyone else who we’ve lost, but we don’t really dwell on it. And sometimes I want to ask my family more questions about people (such as my father) because I don’t remember a lot. Sometimes I don’t because I, like you, don’t want to upset anyone. But I find when we do talk about them, even if we cry, everyone is happy because we’re remembering people we love. Yes, it’s hard, and I do find death scary, but it’s nice to think that by talking about people, you’re celebrating someone’s life.

Take care,


Yasmin April 23, 2009 at 10:28 am

Death is always so hard to cope with and we are all afraid to face the idea of our immortality. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.


Marissa April 23, 2009 at 11:05 am

I am so sorry for your loss.


Help Meghan Run April 23, 2009 at 11:06 am

I am so sorry for your loss, Angela. I think situations like these are good reminders for all of us to appreciate all the we have, each and every day. Good luck to you and your family.


Jess April 23, 2009 at 11:13 am

I am so sorry to hear about your family member! That’s so sad–I think people don’t like to talk about death because it’s a quite touchy subject for many. Knowing that someone who had always been there is gone is always hard to get over. Have fun with your parents!
<3 jess :)


Em April 23, 2009 at 11:15 am

Please accept my condolences to you and your family.

As for death… I’ll try to keep this short. The mere idea of death is frightening to people, because of all things in life, it’s the only one that equals us all, the only one that is certain beyond any doubt. To add to that, we also don’t really know what happens, if anything, and we have no control over it. One could be young, vibrant, and have everything going for them, and be mowed flat tomorrow without warning. What’s not to be afraid of? Not talking about it though is like “he who shall not be named”: a residual superstition, the avoidance to talk about something that frightens us all, giving it more aura than it deserves, and prolonging the fear.

As for feelings, one thing to remember is that we all fight our battles every day. Regardless of who you are, where you were born, or how you live, we’re all fighting daily for something we want, or simply don’t want. If we could stop, for a second, being so worried about the image we project, and be concerned about the image we DON’T project instead, we’d realize that alienating each other is more detrimental to life in general than almost anything else. We’re all after the same things, albeit in different ways. There is no shame in being human.

I have learned to accept death as part of life, as it should be, but it doesn’t make it any less scary. We all die, it’s merely only sad for the ones remaining, the dead don’t seem to care as much as we do :) The ceremonies, the grief… it’s the mark of the living, not that of the dead. I consider grief the only universal milestone in the life of a human: the more people regret the loss of your life, the better you’ve done as a member of your community.

I must admit to have copied your description of your Aunt as a motto for the remainder of my own life. I can only aspire to ever be described as a “vibrant, outgoing, smiling, and loving person with the biggest heart that you have ever seen”. I think your Aunt would be proud.


Christina April 23, 2009 at 11:31 am

I’m so sorry for your loss.

I think people find it so hard to talk about death because losing someone forever can seem unbearable.


Katie April 23, 2009 at 11:38 am

So sorry about your Aunt Bun.


Rose April 23, 2009 at 11:39 am

I’m really sorry to hear about your loss.


Run Sarah April 23, 2009 at 12:32 pm

I’m so sorry to hear about your aunt *hugs*


Cynthia (Healthy Hollywood) April 23, 2009 at 12:40 pm

So sorry for your loss.


Colleen April 23, 2009 at 1:26 pm

I’m so sorry about your aunt! Thinking of you!


melissa April 23, 2009 at 1:47 pm

So sorry to hear about your dear aunt. Thanks for the wonderful post about her, and your honest feelings about death. I find it difficult to talk about death as well. I don’t think in our culture we are adequately taught to deal well with it.


Green Mom April 23, 2009 at 2:05 pm

First off I posted before and called you Angie. I’m sorry, my sister goes by Angie instead of Angela and I just seem to auto type it.
I was sorry to hear about you Great Aunt, it sounds as though she had a full wonderful life and I guess thats what matters in the end.
A loss of only a year can still be hard to talk about if you are not around the people who are still grieving every day for that person. The family would be talking about Chris a lot and would be able to do that with out tears every time but it is different when you’re not around people who are talking about the person. It is still very fresh. I think there is only two things that make it easier. Talking about it which will be a wet experience a few times but you may be surprised to find yourself laughing with those tears as you remember the funny things. A rollercoaster for sure but the tears of grief and the laughter of the good times it all balances out and some how makes us happy and sad at the same time but also helps us hold the memories and get beyond our grief. The second thing is old father time. Sounds like an old song but time heals all wounds. It does get easier with time.
Our losses are also very different. The loss of a young person is much harder to understand because they never got their full shot at life. The younger they are the harder it is to except. Then we have family losses and immediate family losses. All are very different. I find the easiest are people who had a long life. I guess it seems more to the order of things and more natural. The loss of a young person seems to be again the order of nature, but in reality I guess its not if you look at animals and even plants.

I would pick a night that you know will be quiet and bring out that obituary and sit down with your husband and just start to talk. Maybe all you need to say is, I miss him to get the ball rolling. Allow yourselves to fell sad and then have a funny story that you remember before you started and talk about that. Celebrate the person that he was.


samantha April 23, 2009 at 2:30 pm

So sorry to hear about your loss Angela. Praying for you and your family!


Milca April 23, 2009 at 3:32 pm

I am so sorry for your loss Angela.


Ashley April 23, 2009 at 3:37 pm

i am so sorry for your loss, we are all here to support you through this tough time.


Haleigh April 23, 2009 at 4:12 pm

I am sorry to hear about your loss, my thoughts are with you.


ari April 23, 2009 at 6:38 pm

i’m so sorry =/ you’re strong and you will get through this.


MaryBe April 24, 2009 at 6:27 pm

I am sorry for your loss. It’s never easy for those of us who are left
You have a wonderful circle of support here for you if you need it


Michelle Hisae April 24, 2009 at 7:34 pm

I don’t find it hard to talk about death. Only because I tend to ask my parents questions about the life of the person who passed away, and that bring up memories of joy. I realize this must be a hard time for you, and I wish you all the best.


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