Monday, January 11, 2016

Learning to Mourn... Wanting to be Grief Stricken

She insisted on going to visit her granddad after her grandma died. She said that she wanted to mourn.

Mourning wasn’t part of my experience growing up. When my father was a small child, his dad died. He experienced his mom crying, screaming, and tearing her clothes off. When my grandpa died, whom I was very close to, my dad only mentioned it at the end of a conversation I had with him. “Can I talk to mom,” I asked. “No, she’s at your grandpa’s funeral,” he said.

Jews have some unusual ideas about death. For one, a grave yard is called, “land of the living.” For another, if a funeral procession and wedding procession are going down the same road, and if the road narrows, then the wedding procession should go first.

Funerals were rarely attended by my parents. They weren’t part of the business of life. Echoing a Jewish saying, my mom would say, “Life is for the living.” However, my mom felt great grief when tragedy struck our extended family if it was a kid. When my cousin died, or when another cousin was found to have a serious impairment, she fell apart. But we were generally shielded from death. I discovered that a dear neighbor had died when I was shuffling through my sister’s desk. I asked my mom why she didn't tell me. She said that my school work was more important and she didn’t want to distract me.

Buddhists have an idea of impermanence. They believe everything forever changes. Jews too have such an idea, though a rabbi described it the other day as every moment is new. I then asked A, a Zen priest, and she said that this idea of “new” aligned with Dogen more than just changing. It is a new day. It is a new moment.

I sometimes worry that I’m a sociopath, or perhaps a little on the autistic spectrum because I don’t fall apart in grief when confronted with death. I could not do well in a Shakespearian tragedy. It seems hard for me to realize that a person really is gone because they remain so much in my mind. And if they weren’t in my mind, there certainly wouldn’t be any grieving.

P.S. (Credit card track) He asked why I had ten credit cards. “Ten,” I exclaimed, “I have 29.” So I asked him if he had $800, would he toss it to the wind? That's approximately the value of the 50000 that you get from AA with a new credit card (on a good day). “No,” he said, “I wouldn't throw $800 away.” “So why wouldn't you take the credit card.” “I'm trying to simplify my life,” he said.

Obviously there are costs and benefits to playing the credit card game. There is risk, some loss of credit, and time expended. It takes some discipline and some organization to keep track. I seem to do ok.

Is it dishonest to take a credit card just for the money? I actually once asked this question to a bank. They want you to fall for their offer. They hope you will screw up and incur fees. Capital One Bank told me that. Does that mean that we should do it? It is somewhat a moral dilemma.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kim. You are one of the most level headed people I know. Doesn't it seem like there is something behind your need for so many credit cards? Like added security? At least it doesn't get you in trouble financially, so its not a problem there. Rinshin David Stopherdavid@yahoo.