She was in her early 90s, so he was—predictably—”comforted” with the cliched words of, “She lived a long life” and “God was good to her” and the like.
Comfort? To hell with comfort. For a very understandable reason, we humans struggle with the deaths of others. We’re not sure how to react so, generally, we react by spewing the same mindless (yet well-intended) blatherings that our ancestors spewed. If someone died young, “he’s with God.” If someone dies while in the military, “he passed with honor.” If someone died old, “he lived a long and fruitful life.” What’s missing here—what’s too often missing here—is that, even if one dies in his 80s, 90s or 100s, it’s still sad and still heartbreaking. We’re talking about the completion of one’s journey; the end of consciousness and existence. That a person ceases to be is a hard, harsh, truthful thing, and it hurts—circumstances be damned. It hurts.
I digress. A couple of days ago Allen Berman, 82, passed away. He was, among other things, a Korean War veteran, an engineer, a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather. He loved fishing, dancing, jokes and making figures from hot dogs.
One of Allen’s grandsons, Chris Berman, happens to be my sister’s boyfriend. Chris is a truly kind and decent guy; smart, funny, hard-working, endearing in every sense of the word. And while I could try and spew off a bunch of cliches to try and numb my friend’s pain, I’d rather go with an absolute truism: In Chris’ life, Allen would be very proud.