Springingtiger's Blog


Autism Awareness: Seriously Shaken

I really don’t handle emotion very well, I’ve got anger down pretty well, but the others I find confusing and upsetting. I like to apply logic to the events of my life, analyse them and generally dissociate myself from their emotional content.

This morning my wife picked me up from work and as we drove off she told me an old friend, Mr Kohli, had died. He was ninety-five, infirm, and had died peacefully in his sleep, there was no logical reason to be upset, but I was. Looking back after a sleep, I realise I was subject to shock. As a general rule I take bereavement in my stride, but this hit me suddenly and I was unprepared, as a consequence I couldn’t assimilate the news. I don’t like emotion and I was being hit by emotion and not liking it at all. My wife would ask me questions like, “What sort of soup do you want me to make?” and I just could not work out an answer, my brain just would not function.

After a good sleep wherein I must have processed the morning’s news I thought I was once again largely in control of my emotions, but still aware of having been shaken. As it is I found my stability far more than usually under threat from events, and some sort of only finally returned in the early hours of the morning. On reflection it occurs to me that my upset arises from two things, the suddenness of the announcement – I cope better when forewarned – and that this death represents a change in the structure of my world and I do not like change. I accept that all death causes a change, but removal of My Kohli from my world as I know it is akin to discovering that neither is the Earth is the centre of the universe nor is it flat.

All of this is a rather long preamble to a reposting of my earlier post, “Bereavement – Out of Sight, Out of Mind”. I have been hoist somewhat on mine own petard!

Bereavement – Out of Sight, Out of Mind
My wife has been looking back at the bereavements in her life and I have been observing her; it occurs to me that my attitude to bereavement is not only different from hers, but perhaps from humans in general.

Several years ago on AHR (Alt Healing Reiki newsgroup) in response to someone reporting a death, I remarked, “People die”, for me a straightforward statement of inevitability, I could not understand then and do not understand now why people make such a big deal over death. Unfortunately my response led to me being abused by a number of people who, while accusing me of insensitivity, felt it perfectly acceptable to flame me on the newsgroup.

I cried once when my mother was dying, but not because she was dying; I cried because I was unable to impact the process of death whether by prayer, healing or Reiki and I disliked the sensation of powerlessness. I think the only person who has died that I really miss is my Father-in-law, I am not in any way sad, but I enjoyed his company. When I was much younger I wept when my friend Sadie died, she was several years older than me and had always been kind to me when many weren’t, and I was sad when my whippet cross bitch Curly died.

My one objection to death is that it does tend to cause an interruption to one’s life, worse an interruption during which one is surrounded by people being emotional, that is much more upsetting to me than someone’s death. I definitely dislike it when a death compels major change in my routines, as my Father-in-law’s did. I like a degree of predictable routine and order and bereavement is disruptive, but I do quite enjoy meeting family members whom otherwise I would not see and death provides a reasonably sedate context which discourages excess noise and ebullience. I certainly prefer funerals to weddings, you get to see people without having to put up with loud music and dancing and the food is often just as good.

Generally for me death is a matter of “out of sight, out of mind”. I tend not to think of people when I am not regularly encountering them, whether living or dead. Frequently I have thought I should phone or write to someone only for months, even years to pass, before any action is taken. My problem is that I have little sense of the passage of time, my wife says I have the biggest “Now” of anyone she knows, this tends to mean that I either act immediately or I don’t act, I lack a sense of urgency. Because only the immediate really impacts me the past, the future and the geographically distant make little impression upon me and anyone not immediately present tends to escape my consideration.

I think another reason death has little impact upon me is that it is illogical to be upset by death. Everyone – even Markandeya – must eventually die; if there is a life after death then death is merely a step on a journey, if there is oblivion after death then there is little point in worrying as it will make no difference. Someone who is absent through death is – to me – no different from one who is disconnected from me by geography, they are absent and that’s that. I may or may not meet some again, but it is of no great concern to me. Life happens and there is little point in getting emotional about it, people come and go, they always will, it is enough to get on with what we must and not waste time in fruitless brooding over things that can never be, or longing for things that can never be again.

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